Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kool-Aid is Neither 'Kool', Nor Does it Aid Anyone or Anything. Discuss.

Cue the preachy food talk because today I am going there.  Let me start with a general caveat that I am not perfect at this nor do I claim to be.  I try to do the best I can with this, which in our prepackaged, ready-made world is difficult.  Plus being a part of that world for 29 years has altered my food expectations so I know just how good a Dorito can taste despite knowing how terrible it is for me.
Healthy Eating Bible
What I am talking about is the prevalent and harmful abundance of fake food in our society and the detrimental effects it is having on us.  I read a book a few years ago that drastically changed my thinking.  It's called In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan.  Michael (we're buds so I can call him that) lives by the principle that in order to achieve optimal health and nutrition, people should eat food, mostly plants and not too much.  Sounds simple enough right?  What he defines as food (and why is it in bold) however is largely at odds with what is offered to us on a daily basis.  Food historically has been unprocessed, natural, pure, and containing pronounceable and few ingredients.  Enter food science and we're now faced with concocted food substitutes injected with preserving agents so as to not harm the food moguls bottomline.  

More like OH NO
To borrow a line from one my favorite movies, Jurassic Park, Dr. Ian Malcolm ever so appropriately says "Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should".  In that case, he was discussing dinosaurs.  In this case, I am discussing food science byproducts showcasing themselves as nutritious food.  However, in both cases we are unfortunately talking about something so serious it could lead to our eventual extinction.

In the title of this post, I picked on something that my sisters and I drank frequently throughout our childhood.  I don't mean to pick on Kool-Aid specifically but there is not one juice-like substance in it.  So why is it so popular in households across America?  It is cheap and it is easy.  But it is also contributing to childhood obesity, aggravating sugar addictions and offering no nutritional value whatsoever.  And unfortunately it is accompanied by thousands of products that are committing the same offenses.
Food Science?
So to avoid further preaching, I simply say that until we as the food purchasers change the way we shop and the way we eat, we will continue to see food stores the size of football fields with about 1 in 50 products qualifying as actual food and this epidemic will continue.  To offer a bit of advice for changing the way you shop and eat, one quick tip is the check the ingredients.  More than five put it back.  Simple as that.  Also, another great tip is to shop on the outskirts of the supermarkets where produce, dairy etc. are.  Most of these perishable items are real food.  Since I am no expert in this field, I would highly recommend reading Michael Pollen's book and empowering yourself to make better food choices.  

Happy Eating!  Enjoy your [real] food!

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