I originally intended for this post to be about the secret to being fit, lean, and strong for life. That was actually the title of the post. I started writing it last Friday and then things got busy and I put it on hold to finish today. But something happened this weekend that put me over the tipping point of an issue that’s been bothering me for a long time now. So yes, I’m going to bitch and moan a bit again. Don’t want to hear me complain about stuff on here? No problem, just comment at the end of the post about what you’d like to learn more about and I’m happy to oblige. So without further adieu…
This past weekend I went up to Chicago and attended Farm Aid. It was an awesome, all day concert with a stellar line up. Jack Johnson, Imagine Dragons, Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and of course, Willie Nelson among others. Being an all day event and having the title of “Farm Aid”, you knew they’d have a crap ton of food. And did they ever.
So being a dietitian, I did my homework ahead of time to see what they’d have available. It briefly occurred to me that they might have some healthy stuff they were throwing on the grill. I mean, c’mon… its FARM AID. It has farm in the title for crying out loud. It had to be good, right?
Of course not. Who was I kidding? Ok, to be fair there were a couple of decent items, although they had stupid names like “detoxifying spinach salad” (a bit ironic considering the amount of happy smoke and booze that were flowing) which contained “paleo granola”. There was also an organic rice bowl and corn on the cob, but that was about it. So, would you like to know what else was on the menu? Sure you do. Here’s a sample of items they had:
- BBQ Bacon Burger
- Chicken Tenders with fries
- Live Nation Dog
- Sausage Pizza
- Italian Sausage
- Hand Dipped Corndogs
- Roast Corn
- Super Premium Ice Cream Bars
These are the actual names of some of the food they had available.
Now, on paper, these don’t sound very healthy (sans the roast corn). Would you agree? I mean burgers, hot dogs, French fries, pizza, ice cream? Of course not!
But you’d be wrong, you sucker you. These are all actually good for you. Really, really, good for you! Shit, they might as well be categorized as vitamins and minerals and sold at GNC for $79/bottle. They are freaking super foods! Detoxifying, life-extending, cancer-staving, heart attack preventing super foods!
Ah, yeah… you guessed it. This is the part of the article where Alec finally starts talking about what the title of the article said he was going to talk about.
The problem lies in the power of a couple of things. One is marketing. And damn if these food manufacturers are extremely good at it. Even I get fooled from time to time. But marketing is another story for another time (although it’s tied into the next part).
The second is fear and fear mongers. It seems that everyone is seemingly so solely focused on things like artificial sweeteners, GMOs, some chemical in yoga mats, toxins, whether or not the chicken on their plate was fed in a natural way, if that cow was fed corn or grass (ok this one has some merit to it), and if their eggs came from a chicken that was allowed to roam free instead of being caged.
Cart. Before. The. Horse.
So just a few paragraphs ago I mentioned that those items at Farm Aid were actually health foods. Of course they aren’t, but damn if they didn’t try to make it sound that way.
That BBQ bacon burger? It’s good because the meat was raised humanely.
The sausage pizza? No worries, the pork was pasture raised.
The hand dipped corndogs? It’s ok, calm down. The hot dog is certified organic and is coated in non-GMO cornmeal.
The ice cream? Well it was made with milk from a nearby farm, or “regional” as they put it.
Look, I can’t put it anymore plainly than this: IT’S STILL A HOT DOG. IT’S STILL A SAUSAGE PIZZA. IT’S STILL ICE CREAM. Period.
And it’s not just Farm Aid. It’s all over the news these days. You can read here of just one such instance. If you don’t want to read it, the gist is that restaurants are getting graded on their meat quality based on whether or not the animal was given antibiotics and other stupid shit or whatever. Chipotle received an A while Burger King got an F. How about we worry instead about eating at home instead of downing a 1300 calorie burrito that contains chicken that was raised in a penthouse suite?
We’re so worried about some chemical we can’t pronounce -and therefore don’t understand – and that’s spooky to people. And we do all of this while overlooking the more important issues. We don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Sodium and trans fat intake is well above the recommended limit for most Americans. The list goes on and on.
So the bottom line is that we’re so focused on the stupid stuff and forgetting the important stuff. I just read today that obesity rates are now at 30% or higher for half of the states. But never mind that, we’ve got a crazy scary sounding chemical in our damn pumpkin spiced lattes!
Ok, I just did a couple of breathing exercises and now I’m back. I hope the message got across. Focus on the stuff that actually makes a difference. The stuff that counts. Please, put your horse in front of you.