Monday, May 28, 2012

Eating Organic in Today's Recession

I’d like you to give some thought to vegetarianism. Anyone who I’m with should at least give thought to the lifestyle that I am a part of. If you knew the toxins you were putting in your body then you would truly understand.  
- My Ex (And one of the many reasons why my Ex is my Ex, insert eyes rolling here. PROUD OMNIVORE)
I’m not going to start off on a personal rant about vegetarianism; it’s just something I chose not to be a part of. The only reason I made reference to that bold statement was because I found out there really were numerous toxins that I was putting into my body. This knowledge evaded me before I moved to South Dakota upon last year for an internship. I thought fast food, fried food, and even the “healthier alternatives” from Wally World (Wal-Mart) were fine to eat. Late night college style runs to the nearest fast food joint because it had slipped my mind to eat were not out of the ordinary either. My life was on a one track railroad to diabetes, and or stroke and any difficulties that eating such food would bring me. Things didn’t change for me until my internship.

I recall getting off the airplane at this small airport and being the only Black woman there. I walked up and down the airport to find the intern coordinator for my new job and my new life in the middle of nowhere. (I purposely chose the spot because it was the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE) Once I located her (as she was the only Native American woman in the airport, and seemingly the ONLY other minority), we got into the car and she asked me if I needed to go to Wally World for anything. I, of course, needed to get my hot pocket fix. I figured I’d get the family pack so they would last longer. After that, I got a “tour” of the town (which were a Post Office, Bank, small four aisled grocery store, two gas stations, no stop lights, and pharmacy/craft store). I knew my life was going to drastically change. I didn’t however know how much. Needless to say, I shared my huge score of hot pockets and they were gone in less than two days. I was forced to shop around and hunt for food on my small budget.

Fast forward to five months and I’m 38 pounds lighter than I was when I had arrived. How? I found out that the term “organic” simply means real. All these Whole Food, Health Food, hippie stores sell to organic food to some degree. However, if you’re on a budget you can’t always afford to shop at these places. After getting food from the Amish (dairy products, bread, etc), vegetables from farmers around town, meat from butchers, and eating “real” popcorn at the movie theatre (from locally grown corn MIND YOU) in the area I now know what real food is supposed to taste like. I began to question what the hell I had been eating back home on the East Coast and everywhere else I had been. The so-called food made available to us does not taste like food after leaving South Dakota. Now it taste like rubber with seasoning to me. The chicken doesn’t taste like chicken; the beef and the pork have a grainy taste to them; and the vegetables must have some form of pesticide still in them. I can’t even eat too much fast food anymore. When I lived in South Dakota, Wally World was almost three hours away, the nearest fast food joint was Subway (a whole town away) and everything was a day trip to get to. I had no choice, but to go organic.

First let me blow the minds of those who tend to like to criticize the way that America eats. It’s a damn recession! (I just had to get that out) If you’re on a budget, if you are the working poor, if you are the shrinking “middle class”, if you happen to fall into that unfortunate category of impoverished and below the poverty line then the next few statements I make you may understand. And for those of you who aren’t in this category, my article is NOT for you. According to the Food Research and Action Center, 1 in 6 Americans went hungry at some point last year (2012). So if you can’t wrap your mind around that statistic before spouting out nutritional info, then this article is NOT for you.

Now, imagine, for a second, that you’re head of a household for a family of four. After paying the bills, you have about $60.00 to spend on food for the week. Imagine that you’re feeding three children and yourself. Now imagine the price of milk at Wally World right now (essential food), imagine the price of eggs, white bread (because, aha, it’s cheaper than the healthier wheat), cereal, ham and cheese and a few other household necessities. Your allowance is gone; you can’t wrap your mind around the term “organic”; you’re too busy wrapping your mind around the term “survival.”

Life is good if you can go to a store and make healthier choices and not care about the price. Life is good when you have a steady income coming in, so prices of food do not affect you much. When looking at statistics like obesity is the number 2 cause of preventable death in America (Get America Fit Foundation, n.d.) or how millions of children are currently obese, no one takes into account systematically structured socio-economic disadvantages. What we fail to acknowledge is the reality that most are facing right now. What we fail to acknowledge is that it is hard for “beggars to be chosers.” So, if it comes down to a family picking out some meat with hormones in it, dyed white eggs, bleached white bread and processed food to get by at the end of the day then that's what will happen. Until real foods become available everywhere at a reasonable price, I suggest that the health conscious elitists shut the hell up. You’re only adding to the problem. How about purchasing healthier foods for the rest of us? But that’s just one bloggers opinion.



SOURCES

Food Research and Action Center. (2012). Food hardship in America. Retrieved from http://frac.org/pdf/food_hardship_2011_report.pdf

Get America Fit Foundation. (n.d.). Children's health statistics. Retrieved from http://www.getamericafit.org/statistics-obesity-in-america.html

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