On my more virtuous days when my grocery cart is full of organic produce, fresh-pressed Green Goddess juice and two kinds of quinoa, I like to cast a critical eye on what’s in the cart of the person ahead of me or behind me in the lineup. It’s a bitchy and small-minded exercise in me getting all sanctimonious and judgey. When I see a cart overflowing with bags of white Wonder Bread, cases of soft drinks, frozen mac n’cheese, Doritos and heavily sugared breakfast cereals, I get all self-righteous and mentally think, “No wonder you weigh 300 lbs.”.
Then, there are the days when I’m dropping in for a few pantry staples—beans, ketchup (Canadian French’s, of course), mayonnaise, Rocky Road ice-cream and a couple of bags of Ruffles, I’m more than a tad embarrassed. I avert my eyes and hurry my purchases into the bag. Should I explain to those in the lineup ahead of or behind me, that this isn’t the sum total of my weekly shopping? I feel obliged to explain that my normal weekly groceries generally include organic produce, grass-fed cow’s milk, fresh fruit, chia seeds, and extra virgin organic olive oil. I buy quality Ace bread (which I only allow myself to eat on weekends—how’s that for discipline?), hormone-free, organic meat and as many fresh and non-GMO’d products as I can manage. I feel like someone should care. Seeking vindication.
There’s another nasty habit I have that I shouldn’t share, but it’s just you and me here so I will. I also tend to be critical of the food choices by people who claim that eating well and/or eating healthy is expensive. I’ve seen 10-lb. bags of carrots for $5.00. Tomatoes in season are cheaper and easier than trying to grow your own in a pot on your deck or balcony. Zucchinis are so abundant and cheap they’re practically free. For the price of a small container of ice-cream (which I’m ashamed to say I can consume in a single session), you can get an entire bag of grapes or a bunch of bananas. Ontario apples are ridiculously cheap when purchased by the 5 lb. or 10 lb. bag, particularly in the fall when they’re in season. I’m a true believer in “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
Our 21st-century taste buds are so conditioned to needing food that’s overloaded with fat, sugar, and salt, that it takes some time to readjust our pallet to appreciate real food at its best. Years ago I stopped taking sugar in my tea and then started reducing it in other areas of my diet as well. It’s been a journey. I’ve also become an enthusiastic label-reader. I’m far from perfect (having a sweet tooth) but I do try.
I’m also extremely concerned about the high percentage of us who are getting unexplainable cancer. Most of us know not just a couple of people suffering from the disease, but far too many. It’s rampant and I wonder if there’s something in our food chain that Big Agra and the corporate food producers should answer for and are not fully disclosing. I understand the rationale behind all the pesticides and fertilizers used to protect and grow our crops but how much of it is getting into the food we consume on a daily basis?
Sometimes, however, science and logic defy the rules. There are people who consume all the foods I look down my nose at, who smoke and drink to excess and amazingly live to a ripe old age. Then, as we’ve all witnessed, others who live a healthy lifestyle and are careful about everything they eat, yet they’re the ones who face a health crisis. It’s unfair and illogical. But that doesn’t mean we should just throw caution to the wind and live on junk food.
I did once advise the woman behind me in the lineup to not the buy the dried pigs’ ears she had picked up for her dog. I cautioned her against Asian pet food and treats, which she seemed to appreciate and removed them from her cart. (We have a friend whose dog died of kidney failure after eating dried “chicken tenders” loaded with unknown, unlabelled chemicals so I’m on high alert.) We can eat whatever we choose, but please don’t feed helpless animals something that might harm them.
I’ll probably never stop mentally critiquing your purchases in the lineup at the grocery store but in order to avoid public violence, I should probably keep my opinions to myself. But, I’m warning you, I’ll be watching your shopping cart. Don’t make me say something! Unless, of course, there’s some Black Jack Cherry ice-cream or Ruffles in my cart, in which case I’ll just keep my big mouth shut. Then, it’s shame on me.