I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty sick and tired of all of the negativity surrounding our modern food supply.
It seems like every book, blog, podcast, and expert is just pissing and complaining about how all of the problems in the world come from fast food and prepackaged snack cakes.
Well I for one don’t share this view. Sure, there are some pitfalls to our modern dietary culture, but why focus on the negative when there are so many massive benefits associated with it? Have we forgotten that our modern food system has given us the tools to make healthy eating far more efficient and pleasurable than at any other time in human history?
Our modern food supply has given us the ability to have access to a massive variety and quantity of food. (And no that’s not a bad thing) The other day I was in a 7-11, of all places, and they had all sorts of fresh fruits and veggies! As I write this, I’m at the food court at the local mall that has a plethora of culinary delights ranging from sandwiches to salads and even sushi! That’s pretty impressive considering that the nearest coastline is at least 3 states away.
I fully agree that our food system isn’t perfect and there’s a lot that can be improved. But even as it sits now, we have access to diet and nutrition resources that the rulers of the world couldn’t even dream of a couple hundred years ago. You have the monumental privilege to eat pretty much anything you want, as much as you want, whenever you want it. This means that you have the freedom to take control of your diet and eat on your own terms rather than be a passive pawn to whatever your environment has available to you.
And yet it’s so easy to forget this! Our fitness culture spews so much negativity about our dietary resources. Nothing is perfect. We can walk into a grocery store with loads of options, but we complain that it’s not local, organic, or if there are spots on the apples.
Have we become this spoiled?! Are we becoming the spoiled brats who complain about every little thing while forgetting just how good we have it?
I once had a coworker who’s mother was visiting from another country. After picking her mother up from the airport, they went to a typical grocery store. On the way home her mother was fuming with anger. It was clear she was upset and when they got home her mother let her daughter have it.
“How could you do this to me?!” her mother said. “Why did you set up this store with all that food? Was it to show off? Was it to make me feel poor?” She thought the whole thing was an elaborate set up! Her mother simply couldn’t fathom that idea that we have stores with such an abundance of food. They spent the rest of the day going from one grocery store to the next in order to convince her mother that it wasn’t a ruse.
When I was in Japan I spent a week on a small island that was only accessible through a 32 hour ferry ride. There was one store on the island and produce and meat only came in once a week. If you didn’t get there early enough on delivery day you were out of luck for at least a week.
Our modern food culture gives us the freedom to choose what we eat, when we eat and how much we eat. You simply can’t get any more dietary freedom than that. We are free to make our own choices in regards to our diet, yet you wouldn’t know it. Open a diet book or listen to a podcast and you’ll hear nothing about how our poor diet is the fault of the government, big agriculture or the local grocery store.
What’s more, there are so many dietary beliefs that are based upon this idea that we are mindless meat machines which are slaves to every whim and desire we have. It’s all about “don’t eat sweets because your blood sugar will crash and you’ll be eating junk food again.” Or “we are programmed to crave certain foods and big companies have tailored their foods to be addictive.
Do they really expect me to believe such dribble? And why in the world are we letting such theories exist? They essentially tell us that we are weak, powerless mindless robots that are slaves to the system. Last I checked, I’m actually capable of drinking a can of diet soda and not feel an uncontrollable urge to hit an all-you-can-eat buffet 15 minutes later.
I for one was brought up believing that I actually have a choice in my actions. That I can actually stop myself from eating too much and maybe even make due with a few little discomforts in life. If I’m hungry that’s okay. It doesn’t automatically mean I’m going to head for the nearest burger joint and start injecting strait corn syrup in my veins just because I’m feeling a bit peckish. I have at least some degree of free will and my white bread and artificial sweeteners don’t control me or my life. If anything our modern food system makes it so much easier to assume control of our diet and yet we let these condescending ideas tell us that it’s all someone else’s fault.
Beware my friend, when someone else is trying to sell you on the idea that it’s all someone else’s fault, they are telling you that you’re powerless and too weak to thrive in spite of those circumstances.
I also don’t fault companies for designing and producing food that people enjoy more. We may call such food addictive and controlling but I simply call it good business. If I owned a cafe and more people enjoyed the coffee with sugar as opposed to coffee served black, I would be a pretty crappy business person to force my customers to drink the coffee they enjoy less. Even if I did, then the customers would get all pissy about how “Big Brother” is trying to control their coffee freedoms. Sheesh! If I produce what people want more of I’m accused of selling addictive food in the name of making a profit But If I sell the option they don’t want then I’m taking away what they want and I’ll probably be out of business.
It’s so easy to forget that the consumer is in control. Food businesses want to sell more, which as any business person knows is simply a matter of giving the people what they want. If they sell it, it’s because we want it. The consumer is the one in control and I don’t fault any food company for making a product when we keep shouting with our dollars “I want more of that!”
Even when it comes to substances like drugs and alcohol the rally cry is pretty clear. People want the freedom and choice to be in their hands. They don’t want Big Brother to tell them what they can and can’t do. And yet, we want the Government to step in and make school lunches healthier and tax soft drinks. We want someone else to come in and make our food culture healthier and safer, even though it’s potentially the healthiest and safest system of all time. We just want someone else to take care of things for us but get up in arms when it starts to happen because someone else is taking away our choice.
This sort of thinking is the most poisonous thing we could ingest within our modern dietary culture. It’s worse than High Fructose corn syrup, trans-fats GMOs and Little Debbie Snack Cakes combined.
It’s bad because it causes you to ignore the massive power and freedom you have every day to make things better for yourself regardless of the circumstances. You can eat very well and be healthy as a horse, but only once you accept responsibility and understand that your healthy eating is your responsibility.
It’s not the job of the Government to make sure you’re eating a healthy lunch. It’s not the responsibility of the school or your work cafeteria to ensure you can eat well. It’s 100% up to you and it’s never been easier to eat well than right now.
Healthy eating is about being in control and making the best choices when it come to what, when and how much you eat. Doing this has never been easier than now with our massive food resources. If you struggle to build healthy eating skills now, you’ll still struggle even if they ban GMOs, HFCS or force feed children broccoli and chicken in the school system. Your struggle to eat healthy boils down to a lack of dietary skill on your part. I know it’s not always easy to eat well and yes, we all hit some snags here and there. Like all skill sets, eating healthy is going to have some bumps in the road, but it’s not the end of the world. The better your skills develop the easier it is to eat healthy, regardless of what sort of food label laws are passed in the next few months.
I know things aren’t perfect. In fact, we have a lot to improve but that doesn’t mean things are bad. That doesn’t give us the right to piss and moan in the face of food resources that the lack of causes worldwide starvation, Illness and social struggle.
It’s time to step up, accept responsibility and take full advantage of the glorious food resources we take for granted. It’s never been easier to eat well so let’s finally take advantage of this fact.