Over the past couple of weeks several of the blogs I read have been addressing the issue of buying “organic” foods versus regular foods. Many, many, many folks have weighed in on the issue – both for and against the organic lifestyle; and now I feel I need to spout my own two cents worth.
(**Disclaimer: At this point there will be no official medical, nutritional, FDA regulated, or otherwise factual information given. You are about to embark upon a journey into my own mind – a mind that has been chemically altered, in one form or another, for the past 33 years. Prepare yourself to read what may be the most singularly biased blog on the subject ever. If you continue – please be forewarned that you’re doing so at your own risk. Management will not be held responsible for any anger, frustration, eye-rolling, outbursts of laughter or tears, or increases in your blood pressure that will most likely occur if you continue on. That being said….let’s roll….ha, ha, get it??? ROLL???? Anyway….)
Sam and I are both overweight – well, to be honest we’re technically classified as obese – medically speaking that is. However, I’m certain we’re both thin people who’ve been trapped in these fat suits our whole lives! When I dream about myself I’m not fat, and neither is Sam. But I suppose that’s a whole different post, isn’t it?!
Anyway, since I’ve just established that we’re fat, I will also tell you that we know it, and we also realize that as we’re aging we need to start making smarter choices in what types of foods we eat. Gone are the days of hangin’ out with our friends Little Debbie, Capt’n Crunch, Chef Boyardee, and Dr. Pepper. We’ve kicked all our real friends out of the house and have become really dry Hostess’. And instead of spending time with the ones we LOVE, we’ve developed a nasty little habit of covertly meeting with Amy at Bob’s Red Mill. And we’ve scoured store after store looking for deals on the Boca family – acting like crazed fans when we find one – jumping for joy and grabbing up all we can before the crowd strikes. We’ve traded in our beloved Cheetos for organic bananas and free-range eggs – proving that we’ve become “certified” nuts.
But at the end of this happy story, I’m not going to tell you that the “organic” choices we made tasted better than the regularly processed foods. I’m not going to tell you that our bodies felt healthier because we ate free-range eggs. And I will never tell you that our digestion improved because we found out about the joys of whole grains.
Truthfully, the only area we found a significant change in because of the organic lifestyle was in our wallet. That’s correct – we ate foods that tasted nearly identical to their non-organic choices and found the only difference to be the fact that we’d spent nearly three times the money for them. The organic bananas tasted the same as the regular bananas. The organic apples were larger than the regular ones, but they still tasted like an apple. The Amy’s Whole Grain organic pizza didn’t taste any better than the DiGornio Healthy Harvest whole grain pizza. Once the dumb thing was out of the package and cooked, I could not tell you what the difference is between a free-range egg and a ‘sad’ egg – they both tasted like…..eggs. And as for the natural benefits of adding whole grains and more fiber into your diet, well, it did what it was supposed to do – decreased our quality of life and increased our toilet paper consumption – creating a whole other set of environmental issues!
I realize there is a somewhat valid argument for people wanting to cut back on the amount of chemicals their kids consume – especially the growth hormones that can be found in most meat and dairy products. It would be a real shame for young boys to start growing chest hair and gaining a deeper voice by the age of 12. So instead, we’ll pump them full of soy products to avoid puberty all together….but wait, what’s that I hear you saying? Oh that’s right, soy contains estrogen. So we may have given birth a son but we’ll be sure to turn him into a teenage girl – complete with breasts and a silky smooth complexion. I guess there is validity to the argument about changing the name of this new generation – from the GenXer’s to the “Transgender-ation”. Not only will these kids be free of the burden of trans-fats and free thinking, but they’ll also be free of the identities God created them with. We’ll breed a whole generation of “shims”! I think it’s a brilliant idea.
And what about our daughters? We’ll trade cow’s milk for soy milk any day and twice on Sundays – increasing their risk for cervical and ovarian cancer simply by ramping up their estrogen levels to unknown proportions – actually forcing them into puberty much earlier. Oh wait, I forgot about the “I want to be one less” commercial. That’s right, we have a chemically designed vaccine you can get in order to decrease your risk for certain types of female cancers. What was I thinking?? Now it makes perfect sense – avoid eating mass-scale commercially produced foods and instead choose the much smarter choice of pumping your body full of chemically designed vaccines so parents can smile at PTA and tell all their organic friends that they’ve made the decision to give their kids only the very best.
Please forgive my idiocy, sarcasm and unwillingness to buy into this whole organic load of crap (**hee, hee….organic load of crap….I crack myself up…..**). In all truthfulness I do believe we can make smarter choices for our families. I do believe we need to cut back on a large part of the pre-packaged, preservative loaded, high sugar, high sodium, high fat foods we all love to eat. We are a society that LOVES our conveniences. You can admit it – no one will judge you here. We all love to eat out. We love to buy canned, boxed, and frozen ready-meals which are loaded with every kind of preservative imaginable – including FLAVOR. And lets face it, when it comes right down to it, a box of mac-n-cheese with a few frozen peas and a couple of chunks of pre-packaged ham thrown in it tastes better and is more economical than a pound of fresh, organic green beans. And not only does it taste better (unless you’re one of those weirdies who has some kind of unnatural cheese aversion) but it makes the “what’s for dinner?” question a whole lot easier to answer.
But there are some ways in which we can combat not only the battle of the bulge, but also the high cost of making better food choices.
1.) Get off your…rear…and do something. Have you ever noticed how many vegetarians and the so called “organic” crowd are still overweight? You can bet your sweet bippy I’ve noticed. One of the ways I considered getting thin several years ago was to become a vegetarian. That was until I worked at Lane Bryant with one when we lived in Iowa. She was as fat and unhealthy as I am and she was a vegetarian! So not only would I have to suffer through the red-meat DTs, but in all likelihood I wouldn’t experience any significant weight loss. NO THANK YOU! Pass the steak, please!
(Side note: I do realize that many people who choose to become vegetarian do it not necessarily for the health benefits but for some perceived moral and/or ethical nobility. Let me assure you of one thing – I believe that the only moral and ethical crisis here is the fact that people want to humanize animals – believing that they have the same type of emotions as us. I can assure you that animals do not cry, they do not feel sad, they do not laugh, they do not get depressed, they do not feel fear. If you look at a wolf pack for example, when a member of the pack has become sick or old or otherwise useless to the pack, the pack will turn on that animal – killing it and then consuming its flesh. This is the natural cycle of life. Animals were designed by God to be a source of nutrition (FOOD) for each other as well as humans. We are to care for them and then we’re to eat them. I will concede that there have been documented cases where animals have been treated cruelly by mean people who are not only cruel toward animals, but also their children, spouses and themselves. However, that does not mean we should turn our backs on the entire commercial meat processing industry. Certain things must be sacrificed in order to feed a planet full of hungry people – and I can’t taste any difference between the steak I buy at Kroger and the one I bought from Whole Foods.)
No matter how smart or “healthy” our food choices are, we will never experience weight loss or significant health benefits if we continue to rest on our laurels. If you want to get healthy, you’re going to have to do what healthy people do…exercise….move around….get off your bum and out from behind your computer and increase your heart rate (in whatever way’s you see fit!). You can eat all the organic, low-fat, low-sodium, low-cal rice cakes you want and still die unhealthy and unhappy. Up until the last thirty years, obesity was not an issue in America. People worked hard and they played hard. Families didn’t spend the majority of their day and night sitting behind computers, texting and IMing their friends, watching tv, playing video games, or talking on the phone. They played basketball and softball, they worked in their yard, they went for walks and on nature hikes, they invited friends and neighbors over for games, they spent their weekends at the lake swimming, fishing, or water-skiing – they were busy living instead of just being busy.
2.) Garden. I know, it’s a novel idea; but if you want truly “organic” produce and herbs – grow your own. Its no more expensive to do than purchasing your produce at the supermarket or farmer’s market. It gets you out out of the house and off your butt. It tastes 1,000% better than what you’ll buy in the stores. In most cases, you’ll be able to harvest an abundance of produce that will not only satisfy your needs, but will give you extra to either preserve (can, freeze, or dry), give away, or sell. And you can control what pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals are used on your plants. If you live in an apartment, condo or townhouse where you’re limited on space, consider container gardening. There are loads of websites with information, supplies, and tips on ways to maximize small spaces. If you have a home with a yard think about planting a few veggies and herbs. You don’t have to create an elaborate garden area – in many cases, you can work the plants into your existing landscape!
If you don’t want to garden but still want to make more organic food choices, get involved in your local food co-op or shop at a farmer’s market instead of in a Whole Foods or regular grocery store. In many areas, there are local farmers who are willing to show you their operation as well as sell their meat and produce at incredibly reasonable prices. Supporting a locally sustainable farming community not only is better for our environment but it allows us to support a dying industry while making smarter food choices. It’s a win-win all the way around.