A few weeks ago, my little fam was roadtripping to Minnesota and Brent agreed to pass the time by listening to podcasts with me. (Or did I force him? Can’t remember now.)
(You’ve probably noticed that I’ve become a huge podcast addict since I started spending almost 2 hours a day commuting–some of my favs are Balanced Bites, Ben Greenfield Fitness, Underground Wellness, Jillian, and Fit Girl.)
Vani’s all about digging up truths about harmful ingredients in processed foods and targeting brands that pose dangers to our health. She’s performed dramatically revealing investigations and even launched cease-and-desist style petitions against brands like Chick-fil-A, Subway, Pepperidge Farm, and a zillion others. She even dug up some dirt on beer (gasp!) and Trader Joe’s (GAAAASP!!).
The podcast got some serious conversation going in the car–I mean, I could tell Brent was pretty shaken up about that beer thing. Weeks later, his go-to phrase is still “what would the Food Babe say about this?!?”
Ok. So let me back up.
I consider myself a pretty level-headed person, so when I sense any kind of sensationalistic “THE GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO KILL US!!” style tactics, I tend to automatically doubt everything being said. (And I can’t wait to see what kind of traffic that phrase is going to bring me…)
But here’s the problem with the Food Babe’s arguments: I agree with them.
It’s easy to say “yeah, yeah, everything in our environment is giving us cancer and killing us, WE GET IT” but isn’t that kind of a cop-out? If we do actually believe there’s some truth to all this, why are we so unmotivated to do anything about it?
I remember hearing this example (although I can’t for the life of me remember where I heard it): If a total stranger handed you a white pill and said “eat this,” you would run screaming in the other direction. (Or politely decline, I guess, depending on your temperament.) I mean, what’s in it? What will it do to me?? And, understandably, WHO ARE YOU?
But as long as something sort of resembles a food we’re familiar with, a lot of people are comfortable with the “I don’t want to know what’s in it” approach to eating. We assume that, because everything in our country is so rigorously examined and tested and critiqued by Smart People Who Know Things, brands wouldn’t be allowed to sell us things that will really hurt us. Like–not really.
And yet, even if you don’t believe all of this, you can’t really deny that, to some extent, they are doing that. (Even though they’re not allowed to in many other countries.) It’s not at all hard to dig up a product that’s loaded with GMOs, chemicals, additives, artificial ingredients, and/or carcinogens–aka stuff that makes our bodies say “boooo!” with the double thumbs-down.
My problem is: once I start digging into this stuff and eyeballing labels and thinking bad thoughts about every single establishment that prepares food on this earth, I find myself falling into this big rabbit hole. I reject one thing, and then another thing, and another, and all of a sudden, I’m a hippie, living on a homestead, dressed in hemp, growing beets in my backyard and raising goats. (P.S. I live in a very free-spirited city, so hippie is a positive word to me. If it means something different to you, replace it with “health- and environmentally-conscious person.” There. Now everyone’s happy.)
(Wanderlust is a great movie BTW.)
So that’s obviously not happening anytime soon. (Hemp clothing looks itchy…)
But seriously: the cost of actually “doing something” about all this, in our society, is HUGE. To skip the readily available foods for the healthier but more obscure alternatives, to do the research, to plan the meals. It’s expensive, it’s inconvenient, it takes crazy amounts of time and dedication, and–possibly most importantly–it’s just not the cool thing to do.
I mean, I’m nothing if I’m not cool. (Haha. Definitely kidding.)
What I mean by that is: if we look around and 95% of the people we interact with every day are doing one thing, the most flawless research and compelling arguments in the world are going to be hard-pressed to get us to do something different. Even if we believe them, we’ll still sit on our hands, because why isn’t everyone else doing it then?
Do you really have to renounce all of your modern-person ways and move to an organic beet farm (I’m not sure what it is about beets today) to live comfortably, knowing that you’re not sucking down carcinogens all day long?
Um, in other words…
How do you balance healthy living with modern living?
I’ll give my take on this in another post, but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the meantime!