Bottom Line Up Front: Today I am going to just rant (vent? complain?) about the past 4 hours. There is a call to action at the end to at least make me feel better.
It started innocently enough with dropping off my kids at Sunday school. Then I got annoyed because as I was signing them in, I saw a snack roster. Huge annoyance for me. Like Trump would say, YUGE! They will be there for 90 minutes. Why does food need to be involved? Will they be running hill repeats or doing 500 kettlebell swings? Even if they were, I think they would be OK without a snack. Apparently kids can’t go anywhere without a snack. Just having to have snacks brought in aggravates me. Now imagine what kinds of things they are bringing in. You think anyone ever (in Missouri at least) thought of bringing something that was a real food? Maybe an apple or a banana? Can’t bring a nut for allergies. No one is going to bring meat of course. Can’t bring dairy. No one would dare bring a vegetable because no one would eat it. What are we left with? Chips, Doritos, Cheetos, Cheez-its are the majority. And heaven forbid these kids suffer through a snack without a drink. Water isn’t enough, so, you guessed it, some kind of sugary drink. I haven’t even seen the snack yet and I’m agitated.
I am tasked with doing my family’s grocery shopping for the week while the kids are at Sunday school. I have 90 minutes. I go super Ranger on it and shop wearing my 60lb GoRuck Rucker backpack and Vibram Fivefingers (totally normal). I made this all even worse by listening to a Joe Rogan podcast with Gary Taubes, who is a journalist who writes now about the obesity epidemic and how sugar is a primary cause, which has gone unchecked and reinforced by our government. It is as if I am a living the podcast as I see in front of my all the overweight/obese people and all the invented food (Cheerios are invented, oranges are not) as he describes how the American diet has changed in 150 years. It makes all of my normal ticks amplified.
Grocery shopping is fun to me, but I know I will be annoyed within 0.3 seconds because of the tons of crappy food and the obese people stacking it in their carts to feed to not only themselves but their children. And most of these people are servicemembers, so that adds to my frustration. These are my co-workers, the ones charged with defending our nation, the ones whose physical performance is essential to their job.
I am making my way through the perimeter (we all know the middle is where the really bad food is) and observe many overweight people stacking their carts with drinks, chips, cheap white bread, etc. I am watching all the overweight servicemembers (more than you’d imagine unfortunately) and/or the overweight/obese family members put all bad choices in their carts. I want to ask if they have any interest in discussing how they are killing not only themselves but their children who are eating this trash. I don’t. I work speedily and get to the checkout within 30 minutes. Then I almost gave up. I saw a cart that was sent down from above to test my will. Obvious servicemember (likely Army since that is the majority where I am, but I am hoping it was Air Force or Navy) checking out in front of me. His cart has every single thing I imagine reckless shoppers get: 3 large bags of Tostitos, 3 large bottles of sugary drink, 24-pack of Mountain Dew, multiple loaves of bread, cereal, etc. Then the kicker…a giant bag of actual sugar. I actually said to myself this was the only thing missing, then I saw it. I definitely said “f**king sh*i…” out loud. I had my earbuds in, so I am sure it was audible. I was going to take my phone out and take a picture because I decided at that moment I had to write about this. I really REALLY was close to asking this guy if he was kidding with his cart. It was like what a 6-year-old boy would buy if you gave him no limits. Even poor college stoners would have more useful food in their cart.
I picked up my kids from Sunday school. Both walk out with food – one holding a Capri Sun, the other eating Cheez-its. Ughhhh.
Stop at the Dollar Store on the way home to get a school supply. This is also not a good place for me (I am starting to realize not many are). Checking out. 400lb woman walks in, pajamas and slippers. Walks past me to the drink cooler area. I tried not to judge. I thought maybe she got batteries or some other end of the aisle type small item. Nope. Coke. She gets behind me in line. Rows of candy. I wonder if she will go for it. She starts to play with some Peeps (the Easter delicacy, sugar puffed marshmallow chicks), but she puts them down. I move to pay, she grabs the Peeps and puts them up with her soda. I lose hope.
The Food Paradox
I kind of want to stop caring about this, but I can’t because it affects my family and friends. It affects our country and the world’s population. The food industry has gotten us pegged and they are making money hand over fist on us.
Bad food is both enjoyable in reasonable or infrequent proportions and toxic/deadly if consumed frequently or to excess. Do we all agree on this? I assume so. Think of all the other things that are on the same level: alcohol, drugs, tobacco. You can extend this to non-consumables if you think of things that are OK if moderated but dangerous to excess/recklessly. Driving a car, riding a motorcycle, using guns. There are probably many more.
Would any one of you reading this sit by and watch your spouse, sister, friend, neighbor, anyone give whiskey, a cigarette, or a joint to a 6-year-old child? In moderation, all of these things are perfectly fine and in some cases healthy (marijuana has many lasting health benefits actually). No reasonable person would. But it is OK to give our kids many glasses of Coca Cola, Doritos, Wonder bread, or breakfast cereal EVERY DAY?
Sorry to break it to you but crappy food is just as bad for you, if not worse, than alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana due to its availability.
What Can Be Done?
I think there are only two things to do: 1. Teach our youngest citizens about food and 2. Be wary of the government and the food industry colluding to kill us to make money.
Teach kids about good and bad choices. Do some leg work and make them meals for lunch. Stop with breakfast cereal and juice right now. NOW. May as well give them ice cream for breakfast. Set a good example about how and when to enjoy food that isn’t a health choice. Have cake and pizza at birthday parties. Don’t have it on a random Wednesday. This is not easy, especially when all of their friends eat like stoners. Choose the hard right, not the cheap, easy, tasty wrong (like Lunchables).
Be Wary of the Government and Food industry. Our government pays and incentives farmers to grow corn and soybeans over other more useful crops. Something has to be done with all that excess crap. It finds its way into food to make it cheaper and taste better. The more people eat it, the more they will grow corn (for high fructose corn syrup), the more the system will reinforce itself. You know where else all this grain excess goes? Cattle. Factory farms love this stuff. Now here is where it gets really crazy. Cattle who eat grain (it’s not natural for them) are much cheaper to raise, but they get sick more, so they need antibiotics (this also makes them grow faster and larger). So Big Pharma is on board with grain fed cattle. You know what else Big Pharma is on board with? Big, fat, sick people. They need lots of drugs – not just to help them not die from obesity but from depression. You know who else loves sick people? The health care industry. You know who loves to keep the economy growing, corporations making money, and businesses paying taxes? The government. It is in no one’s interests in this game to have people be healthy except the population (who make up the corporations….head hurts).
Calls For Action
We need to resist this wherever we can. Bring something reasonable to your kids’ soccer game for a snack (like oranges) and don’t bring any drinks. They’ll be fine and they all have a water bottle anyway. Tell your Sunday school teachers to just eliminate snack time altogether (I didn’t do this myself…). Don’t buy factory raised meat. Teach your kids. Set a good example for your fellow citizens that eating well is good for you and not impossible. Inform others by sharing this kind of article or others you read. Don’t let the government and corporate America kill us all to make money.
QUESTION: Am I off on this? Too much? Not enough? What have you done, if anything, to deal with this?