Language That a 5th Grader Can Understand (Originally posted on August 23, 2012)

Language That a 5th Grader Can Understand

Posted on August 23, 2012

I think some people think I’m a bit over the top about my interest in food transparency.  I can see people rolling their eyes or glazing over if it comes up in conversation.  I try to avoid preaching about it because I know it will go on deaf ears if they are not ready and interested in having the conversation.  I often hear people tell me that they ate like crap as a kid and they turned out just fine.  Usually in my head I think “maybe”.  The thing of it is that for most of us close to 40 and older, our food was processed very differently.  And while I was part of the fast food and frozen dinner generation (an early version), we didn’t eat it everyday or even once a week.  The rules of the game are different now.  And, unfortunately, we didn’t all turn out “just fine”.

I always think that if we could see inside our bodies on a regular basis – see how are organs are aging or reacting to different things, we would make very different decisions about what and how much we eat.  Think about how concerned we are with our outside appearance as we age or fall ill.  Sadly, what most of us don’t realize or care about is that often what we see on the outside is because of what’s happening on the inside.  And since we can’t see our internal organs we don’t give enough credit to the connection.

While I don’t love lawsuits for the sake of lawsuits (who does), I am very interested in the latest development in Big Food.  On Sunday, August 19, the New York Times reported that the lawyers that won settlements in the Tobacco cases are now focusing on the food industry http://tinyurl.com/c9eytw8.  Are we finally going to have transparency about how our food is processed, what it does to our body and even how the FDA is lobbied?  Maybe not and it will probably take several years to see any real development but for now I am hopeful.

I don’t necessarily blame the Big Food companies, I mean, they are out to make a buck right?  They aren’t really there to provide us with a nutritious meal even if their marketing tells us otherwise.  And, I don’t think that we should outlaw bad food.  But I do firmly believe that consumers should be told, in language that a 5th grader can understand, what’s in their food and what it could do to them if eaten too often.  But we have to go further.  Knowing about food choices, having food choices is still a luxury.  If you go into grocers in poor neighborhoods in the US you don’t find real choices and if you do it’s typically more expensive.  We have to start valuing the connection between food and health in this country.  Eating isn’t something that we just do to pass the time.  It is intended to fuel our bodies and provide balance.  Eating can still be fun and tasty, but we need to honestly reconnect to it’s purpose in life and allow everyone to have greater awareness of the cause and effect.

I’m also a big fan of Just Label It http://justlabelit.org/.  Their whole purpose is to demand that genetically engineered food should be labeled as such.  Let the consumers know so that they can make the decision whether or not to eat it. If you haven’t yet, check out their site.

Remember too that eating well for you will look very different than it does for me or other people you know.  Some people can process things better than others.  The idea is not to restrict, restrict, restrict but to open up your choices and taste buds to a variety of healthy foods.  In the meantime, start thinking about where your food comes from.  Read the labels if you don’t.  Don’t believe that your whole grain cereal is really whole grain…you can still eat it, just don’t fall for it.  And don’t worry, if you see my out and you happen to be eating a big slice of chocolate cake, or Doritos, or wings, I promise you that I’m not thinking “they should NOT be eating that”.  I’m just happy to see you and may just sit down and order a piece of cake too.  Balance is everything.

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