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March 14, 2010

Natural Food Challenge

I'm a fake food junkie. I like light butter, light chips, light bread and light ice cream- pretty much anything with the word "light" on it. The irony is that I have been doing this for years as part of being a self-proclaimed "health nut" but the fact is there is nothing healthy about what I've been eating. I know this, and I'm challenging myself to change. I've decided to try changing my plastic, partially-hydrogenated ways and buy only natural foods from here on out. I knew it would be difficult, I just didn't realize HOW difficult. I also didn't realize just how many horrible things I was eating. My guess is, most people don't.

My first trip to the grocery store since making this decision was eye-opening. I went to pick up several items that are regulars on my grocery list only to find there were long lists of ingredients I couldn't pronounce on every label. Should butter really have more than 5 ingredients? Should it really have 37? No, it shouldn't. My shopping list kept getting shorter and shorter and I soon realized almost everything I have been eating had ingredients that were solid at room temperature, man-made and not actually food at all. How can this be legal? Well, don't rest on the notion that the government will keep you healthy. Did you read the Jungle or Fast Food Nation? Enough said.

I made it to the deli, only to realize there is NOTHING natural about meat that is an oval shape and then sliced. I turned to grab some pickles (a staple in my diet) and to my dismay, they have high-fructose corn syrup. Are you kidding me? Are all of the joys in my food life to be taken away? Not quite. It doesn't have to be as dramatic as it seems the first shopping trip.

There are many foods in natural food stores or even the natural food isle of the grocery store that are great substitutes, delicious and not plastic. I am still new in my quest, so bare with me in my journey. I can 100% guarantee I will fall off the natural food wagon more than once- especially since I plan on making chocolate chip cookies tonight and I haven't looked at the chocolate chip label yet. I think the trick to this is that I need to ease into it. I can't punish myself for a slip-up here or there and I just need to keep reminding myself this is all for the best. I bet if I saw some of these ingredients sitting as a jellied blob on a lab table I wouldn't feel the need to eat these "light" foods anymore.

If you need some inspiration, the book I'm reading now got me started. It's called In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan. It could help you, too to change your plastic ways and hopefully lead towards a healthier life.


Laurie said...

yay!! kudos!! Way to go!

Christy said...

The Ominivores Dilemma (also by Pollan) is another good motivator. There you will read about Polyface farm, which you live within delivery-distance of. You NEED to start getting grass-fed meat from them so that I can live vicariously through you. I've tried to find a similar place in NoCal to no avail.

Andrew said...

Way to go, Heather! The food marketing machine must be stopped. You'll enjoy food so much more when the real flavors are allowed to come out. Looking forward to future installments -- especially how us DC area folk can find the (real) good stuff.

DevouringDC said...

Thank you! I'll definitely be writing more on this. Also, thanks for the tip on Polyface!

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