Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ho Ho Ho Green Giant

What makes a healthy eater? Pose the question in our house and you will not get a unified response. JohnnyMac, with all his muscles and high metabolism, can and does eat whatever he wants. He certainly does not claim to be a healthy eater but he does claim that he is no unhealthier an eater than I am.

Ahem. I am sorry, my ear hurts when you say such things. I asserted I am, and have been for majority of life, a very healthy eater. I am all about working on my fitness and I don't eat certain things because I think we can cook something better ourselves. And I don't want unknown ingredients made of tar and glue resin in my body. So we decided to compare apples to apples. And, I admit he proffered some valid points.

Let's start at the beginning. JohnnyMac likes meat and cares not where it came from or how it was treated while it was still walking around and breathing. He also loves processed food: Pringles and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups amongst his faves. He also likes things that are frozen and when heated, make an entire meal. I shudder as I write these words. He works out frequently and the combination of his fitness regime and his blessed genetic code explains why he doesn't look like a man who would subsist an entire week on frozen pizzas and steaks as big as my torso. He also skips the vegetables but for his daily glass of Odwalla SuperFood. (Which both Odwalla AND he claim one glass equals five spinach salads).

I like fresh fruits and vegetables. I not only know all of the superfoods, I buy many and eat them. Blueberries? Check. Herbal tea? Check. Yogurt? Check. Acai? Check. And I don't eat healthy foods because Shape Magazine told me to but because it shouldn't require Shape Magazine to tell you that real blueberries are better for you than blueberry PopTarts. But I confess, I am late to stock quinoa, kimchi, or blue green algae. And I don't feel remiss about it either.

And while I make our son's applesauce, french fries, sweet potato chips, and pudding from scratch. And I prefer local organic over just organic, over neither. I admit I read "Skinny Bitch" and to be candid, those skinny bitches scared me. But, they had some interesting insight and if half of what they wrote is true, my insides need a deep clean. But let's be honest, its not all raw foods and grass fed animal products at our house.

JohnnyMac's first point was my chemical choices. First up: I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray. Then my Morningstar Grillers (faux meat burgers) followed by MorningStar Ginger Teriyaki Veggie Cakes. All of these items include chemicals, all of them processed, one of them not even a gram of actual real food included. Ugh. Careful what you start.

But I rallied, and lobbed back with his repulsive Croiss'andwiches parked in the freezer comprised of unidentifiable meat and a list of ingredients longer than the Gettysburg Address. One Croiss'andwich does equal three of my above mentioned choices. But the chemical butter spray....well, I will face it....its an total mystery substance in a bright yellow bottle. And the faux meat burgers? Yum. But, probably not exactly made from scratch.

He pulled out my canned vegetables. Yes, I have cans. Its just now spring and the farmer's markets don't start until next month! The carbon footprint on one can alone is negligible but I pointed out the ingredients are simple: CORN and WATER. Of course, that is what the label indicates, but who is really monitoring? Can I prove there are no other chemical enhancements? Not unless I build a CSI lab in our attic.

He also pulled out my Light and Lively whole-grain crackers and looked at the ingredients. Several ending with -sose, -dose, and -tose. I get the point. My processed cracker is not really different than his processed Pringle, although, I like to think so.

We have a friend who claims she eats no processed foods and does n0t allow her child to eat any either. Ummm, unless you are making those Cheerios from scratch, I beg to disagree.

And a good rule of thumb? If there are more than five ingredients, don't eat it. I may have ignored this a time or two.

I read a fantastic book by Barbara Kingsolver called "Animal Vegetable Miracle" in which her family spent one year eating only what they could grow or trade locally. For the record, I read the book after JohnnyMac and I had the "he who is the healthiest eater" chat or I might not have piped my horn quite so loud.

From an article in New York Times on 3.23.09, famous chef and food writer Mark Bittman wrote about healthy eating:

To eat well, says Michael Pollan, the author of “In Defense of Food,” means avoiding “edible food-like substances” and sticking to real ingredients, increasingly from the plant kingdom. (Americans each consume an average of nearly two pounds a day of animal products.) There’s plenty of evidence that both a person’s health — as well as the environment’s — will improve with a simple shift in eating habits away from animal products and highly processed foods to plant products and what might be called “real food.” (With all due respect to people in the “food movement,” the food need not be “slow,” either.) From these changes, Americans would reduce the amount of land, water and chemicals used to produce the food we eat, as well as the incidence of lifestyle diseases linked to unhealthy diets, and greenhouse gases from industrial meat production. All without legislation.

As I continue to say, its a work in progress. But, I do pay more attention to content on labels, and how food makes me feel because I want a long and energetic life. I prefer fresh over canned over fake. And if we went pound for pound, I might actually take JohnnyMac in this contest. I say this as I enjoy my spinach salad with local goat cheese and organic cranberries. But oops, I did eat a handful of the Easter Whopper Eggs so I tread lightly. But I haven't purchased fake butter spray in months!

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