[I’ve been composing this post in my head all week and was so excited to post it for Food Revolution Day, which I mistakenly thought was tomorrow. Its next Friday, I don’t know how I got so ahead of myself. My mom’s Mother’s Day card is still sitting on my desk. Oh well, the sentiment’s still the same!]
Its highly plausible that Food Revolution Day is only a thing because of Instagram, but its still one of my favorite “days” when it comes to the sentiment.
We eat like crap.
Picture your local grocery store. What does it look like when you walk in? If you’re like me, 1/3 of the store is devoted to produce, fresh meats and dairy. The other 2/3 of the store is a mixture of dry goods and a huge assortment of processed foods, in every form from boxed cookies, to frozen taquitos.
When you drive through town, there’s Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, Dominoes, Sonic, Wendy’s, several 7-11s.
Even if we manage to get past the easy temptations staring us in the face every day, the shelves of our super markets are stocked with lies. There’s sugary cereals full of empty carbs promising us to be “full of fiber” (that’s good, right?). Fat-free milk seems like a healthy choice, until you read the label (is that really even milk?). In the soft drink aisle, the choice is regular (diabetes) or diet (cancer). Scores of the packaged foods on the shelves are full of high fructose corn syrup and MSG.
I read an interesting news blurb the other day about how the FDA is looking into re-vamping wast it considers “healthy”. Apparently, they’re still stuck in the 90’s where grains are the biggest group on the food pyramid and fats are the anti-Christ, including almonds and avocados.
Its rough trying to be healthy out there. I was raised in a house where dinners went Pasta, Pizza, Burritos, Refrigerator Surprise, Repeat. When I came to an age where I wanted to watch what I ate and tone my figure, I jumped on board my parent’s Atkins kick. Carbs were the devil and crazy-expensive bars and shakes were the breakfast of champions. In college, I was reading the labels of everything and watching my fat consumption, putting that god-awful fat-free milk in my coffee and not eating cheese.
Towards the end of college, I started really cooking with a passion. Bon Appetit has been my best friend for years now and I feel healthier than I ever have before.
So, what’s the secret? What is this food revolution? Its simple and its what would have kept our ancestors alive for years (if modern medicine had been a thing). Its eating simply. Its cooking from scratch. Its consuming things with few ingredients that you know what they are. Its massive quantities of fruits and vegetables (like my fridge is all fruits, veggies and hot sauce, I kid you not. That and moldy tupperwares…) and smaller portions of grains and meats. I don’t know why its taken people so long to embrace this…we were designed to live off Mother Earth. We should be eating what she provides for us.
Is it hard to live this way when I’m a busy professional? Why yes it is. I cook every single night. I rarely used pre-made items and when I do its things like pasta that I’m really not going to make myself. I’m not crazy. I eat cheese (mac and cheese is my favorite food! But mine is homemade with organic milk and cheese and real butter). I eat bacon. A dish is not complete without a carb. But our plates are also overflowing with vitamins and nutrients from things like avocados, beets, spinach and beans.
Put into your body what you want to get out of it. Nutrients and happiness.
I learned about food deserts for the first time when I was in college.
1.an area, usually low-income, in which many residents cannot easily get to stores that sell affordable, healthful foods.
It absolutely shocked me when I realized what this meant. There are people living in my city, that do not have easy access to fresh foods. I couldn’t believe that people were malnourished in the heart of a thriving city. But when you stop to think about it, it really isn’t very different than living in the middle of a real desert, is it? There aren’t many grocery stores within walking distance of some of the poor-er neighborhoods in Denver. If you don’t have a car, going to a grocery store might mean taking two or three buses, or a train, dragging small kids with you after a full day at work, shopping for whatever will fit in the two or three bags you can manage on public transit on the way and that you think your kids might eat (conditioned by commercials and life to love sugar and hates veggies), making your way back home and then trying to cook something for dinner.
For a lot of people, walking to 7-11 or Walgreens on the corner to buy some peanut butter and jelly or a box of Rice-A-Roni is the more feasible solution. Kids grow up eating processed foods lacking nutrition and become today’s generation of children who are both obese and malnourished, not because their parents don’t care, but many times because their parents have no other options, or simply don’t know better.
So what’s my solution? We as adults are faced with crappy choices, children are being raised in many places not to know better, what can we do?
I believe the difference starts with cooking. Its a time commitment, yes, but we devote so much time to things that really don’t matter; our smartphones, reality TV, happy hour. Learn to enjoy cooking. Its an adventure! Get your kids involved. Teach them that veggies really can taste good. That fresh fruit can be just as delightful as candy. That water is the foundation of life (sorry kids, soda sadly is not).
Urban-farming, bringing affordable grocery stores to inner-city areas, re-vamping school lunches, bringing healthy choices into the work place, all of these are also part of this “revolution”, but we can’t do anything until we start to look take a look at our own lives. Cooking from scratch has made me feel worlds better and its made my kitchen a delicious place to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I still indulge in junk. I drink Diet Mountain Dew on occasion (sorry diabetes, I chose cancer), sometimes we indulge and buy taquitos or get Frappucinos, because lets be honest, you only live once.
That’s the key, you only live once. For every frappucino, there’s five veggie bowls or salads for lunch. For every taquito dinner, there’s a month worth of fruit smoothies. For Diet Mountain Dew, there’s a grass-fed steak salad bowl.
I hate kale. And quinoa. Chia seeds sort of freak me out. But I cannot get enough of sugar snap peas. I eat more bananas than a family of monkeys. Almond butter is the best thing since sliced bread. If you don’t think anything more adventurous than bananas and chicken is going to float your boat, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with barbeque chicken or a peanut butter (natural is soooo much better!) and banana smoothie. But please, this week try. Go into the grocery store with a conscious mind. I am a broke young adult. I work 40 hours a week. If I can afford produce and find time to cook, so can you! (pro-tip, GO TO SPROUTS FOR MEAT AND PRODUCE ITS WAYYYY CHEAP)
My point is this; teach yourself to love real food so we can change the world, one soba noodle, chick pea, kale dish at a time (pictured below).
[Explore the link’s below for some food revolution fun!]