When I ask my kids what they want from the grocery store, their answers are usually not the ones I hope for. Among the common requests are individually packaged snack foods and sugary drinks. While I’ll admit my own affection for chewy granola bars and Grapico, in making my list I’m not asking what they want to snack on. I’m asking what they want to eat.
The challenge as a parent (and as a person with a long family history of heart attacks) is: I’m fighting a constant battle against the brightly packaged, sugar-added “food products” that were born in laboratories, not in the earth. And I’ve become convinced, the more I read and pay attention, that these Frankenstein-foods are at the root of our collective unhealthiness, and also of our dependence on a system in which we need the insurance to pay for the drugs that will be prescribed by the doctors to counteract the effects of sitting around and eating trash.
I can be guilty of this, too. My work as a writer is mostly sedentary, and my work as a teacher means that leaving campus for a meal is difficult. Getting up to move around and having healthier, fresher foods on-hand both require forethought and effort on my part, since neither is a naturally occurring aspect of my typical weekday. Rather than involving physical activity, my work is often done hunkered over a keyboard or a student’s paper for so long that my upper back has to crackle and crunch itself back into the upright posture of a homo sapien. And when it comes to carrying a lunch and snacks, it is so much easier to choose foods that are pre-packaged and don’t need refrigeration, which means they’ll be processed and loaded with preservatives.