My day had started well, then I read a Facebook post from my friend Dan about the latest health movement called the paleo diet (more on that later) and... I went to the grocery store after work to get dinner.
I am sick and tired of having to read every single label and list of ingredients of every single piece of food I put into my mouth just because some profit-crazed maniac on the other end has packed it with chemicals, preservatives, fillers and any other cheap bio-engineered shit to save half a penny on the crap they are selling.
I am not content with the "bio" or "organic" labels, for they do not guarantee your food hasn't been produced industrially, packaged in cancer-inducing BPA's or plastics and they sure don't mean that the ingredients are good for your health. Say what you want, brown rice sugar or raw cane sugar IS SUGAR. Don't fool yourself. And what exactly is "natural and artificial flavors" actually supposed to mean?
The stuff you're buying boasts that it doesn't contain "trans fats" ? Awesome! Check out the sodium contents. Sodium's cool? It's loaded with sugar. No sugar? It's artificially sweetened with asparthame or some other shit.
I have come to the point where I literally walk full alleys of my supermarket without buying anything at all because none of what I think might be nice to buy is of minimal quality or safe for my health. I cannot stand the "healthy choice", "Rich in fiber", "Probiotic" and the hundreds of other false labels that make you think what you buy is good for you when it's not.
Our food is wrong. Our food is a fraud. Our food is misleading.
I am trapped. Even though I'm close, I won't be a vegetarian because I'm convinced what I get from (decently-raised) animal products is beneficial for my health. And even if I went that way, I would still be consuming non-meat products crammed with chemicals and fillers. I chose to eliminate sugar from my diet only to realize that it is strictly impossible (the best you can achieve is a major reduction). I tried going for the organic products until I gawked at the ingredients list and discovered I was now consuming the same crap like palm oils, saturated fats and tons of various sugars, but grown organically. Organic shit is still shit.
I am a hostage of my lifestyle, of the urban metropolis I live in and of the food industry that seems to be the only one able to reach my sorry consumer ass. It is impossible to eat local in Montreal, because there simply are no farms in Montreal or anywhere near for that matter. I can only get fresh produce in the summer time in local markets, and I can only assume these foods are fresh, organic and local because really, I don't know where they come from.
I am also a string puppet to every health fad that goes around these days. Because I have become interested in what I eat, I do a lot of research in an attempt to find out what exactly is and isn't good for me. The problem is: the more I research, the more contradicting information I get! Some swear by a diet mostly based on fruits and vegetables ranging the widest possible gamut of colors (it's called "eat the rainbow"). Others will tell you meat is wrong. The next moment, you learn that some of the soluble minerals our bodies need are only present in meat products. Soy protein, depending on who you ask, is either one of the greatest ingredients in all time or detrimental to male health because of improper hormonal effects. Fish is packed with awesome essential nutrients... but is a sponge to toxic pollutants like mercury and lead, found in water. This list could go on forever.
My runs at the supermarket have now turned into a bleak venture where I don't want 80% of what's already on the shelves, and where the remaining 20% is either not very healthy or downright fraudulent about 50% of the time. I am frustrated.
I don't buy anything processed anymore, save baba ganouj and 2-3 other items with a 3-ingredient list. Still I am uncertain about the toxicity of the packaging. I don't drink standard milk, because of the hormone contents and the herbicides. I had grown a big fan of whole grain cereals, now I'm told they contain ingredients detrimental to my health, starting with starch and gluten. I don't buy any deli for sandwiches, anything smoked or sausage anymore, because of nitrites. I buy only one very specific brand of bread, which is most of the time sold out at the store. I try not to buy regular fruits and veggies because of pesticides and wax, so I have to live with a choice of about 15% of what's available from organic cultures. And by the way, the organic blueberries I bought yesterday are from Chile. I have eliminated canned foods from my diet, but cannot find cod liver, snails, sardines and baked beans in any other type of packaging. I cook with cold-pressed oils, but have no idea what the effects of heat are on their toxicity or on the erosion of the skillet's non slip surface. Want me to go on?
Food has become a battlefield. On one side, a profit-driven, massive multi-billion industry that is doing an awesome job of confusing everything and bypassing laws with their marketing bullshit. On the other, a horde of food evangelists that promise the eternal fires of cholesterol hell to anyone not following their strict, exclusive regimens that contradict everything else based on data from some scientist who discovered a faraway tribe somewhere in the 1930's living in a long-lost eden of naked nirvanian health paradise. G'aaahhh!!!
I want my food to be happy. I want it to taste good, and I want it to be good.
I want to be able to walk into the store and get meat that is pure, untreated and that comes from an animal who had a normal, natural animal life. I want fruits and vegetables that come from plants not treated with chemicals and pesticides, unwaxed, not radiated and not packed in throw-away plastic wrap and styrofoam. I want eggs all different sizes and colors, untreated milk coming from cows not high to the eyelids on hormones, happy flapping fish from fresh rivers and blue oceans. I want biodegradable containers that don't contaminate my food. I want labels clear and evident, so that my girlfriend's 11-year-old understands them and choses her food herself. I want food and health research to be done without bias and financial interest. I want to stop being lied to.
I want to sit in front of my plate and smile, because I'm eating healthy things of my own choosing that make me happy.