UNITED STATES—This is a debate that has been ongoing for decades in my opinion, but recently in a course of mine, the discussion became front-and center yet again. Why are so many Americans indulging in all foods that are bad, instead of focusing their attention on those healthy and organic foods? Is it a personal choice? Is it economics? Is it a lack of resources? How about all of those?
Yes, people eat the wrong foods for a number of reasons, yet, as a country we have still refused to have a dialogue about what can be done to change eating habits and the importance of healthy foods in American diets. First, we are indeed eating way too much processed foods. We know that anything in a can or pre-packed is not good for us. Why? The level of sodium, fat, sugar and carbs in those items are limited to what we can control. People have been told this over and over again, yet we continue to indulge in those items like soup, packaged lunch meats, boxed saltines, frozen dinners and frozen food items, the list goes on and on.
Second, we’ve been warned about the dangers of fruit drinks and sodas loaded with sugars, yet we continued to indulge in those items. Third, we know fast food is a big no, no, but once again, we continue to eat out multiple times during the week. So I’ve just listed a few problems that we need to heavily address, but there are factors involved that have to be dissected first. Making the right personal choice when it comes to eating is one of the reasons the diets of many Americans are so bad.
We know we should be implementing more fruits and veggies into our diets, yet, we are constantly eating fatty foods, sugary items and items loaded with salt. Why? They taste good people, but if we discover the importance of moderation on those things that aren’t so good for us, our health will be so much better than what it currently is.
Economics, now this topic that led to war in the classroom. When it comes to eating healthy, those who have unlimited economic resources fail to realize that eating the right foods don’t always come cheap. Price is something so many people have to think about when they visit the local supermarket. I will be the first to admit, I fall into this category all the time. You want to eat healthy, but you have a budget that you have to stick to. In the midst of sticking to that budget, you have to decide if you want to spend $3 on a large bag of potato chips or spend $8 for a small bag of organic tortilla chips. Do you want to purchase organic bananas for $4 or purchase regular bananas for about $1.50?
These are questions that always come to the forefront time and time again, weighing the options of saving money to purchase more food items or going with the healthy option. When money is low, you go for the cheaper option. This is NOT to say people DON’T want healthy foods: they do, but it all comes down to price people. The food options have to be affordable to people for them to purchase them. You want organic everything, make organic foods cheaper. You want people to eat gluten free items, make those items cheaper, you want quinoa and various wheats and oils to become more engrained in cooking tactics, make them cheaper!
Price is everything for most Americans in the grocery store. If you tell me I can spend $250 and have enough groceries to last 6 weeks, versus spending $250 and have groceries last only 2 weeks, you tell me what you would do? Exactly! The one thing we must also talk about is resources. There are MANY communities and I mean many communities that have a lack of quality supermarkets.
People might find this hard to believe, but there are a lack of supermarkets, especially well known ones in urban environments. I’m a native of Detroit, Michigan, and there is no major national grocery store in the city, let me take that back, Meijer just recently opened 2 stores in the area and business has been booming. Why is this important to note?
Food is universal; everyone has to eat, so putting supermarkets in the urban environment is important to not only generating business, but to get people to eat healthier foods. More local farmer markets, more food options, better pricing are all things that should be considered to improve the state of healthy eating in America. The debate over healthy vs. processed or organic vs. everything else should be changed to: affordable and accessible. Remember those words, affordable and accessible when it comes to food.