Monday, April 15, 2013

Food culture

I confess every once in a while I want McDonald's: the convenience, speed, taste manufactured by sodium, MSG and grease.

Sometimes I feel as though those of us who want to eat organic, cook from scratch and avoid prepackaged foods are perceived as stuck up or following a fad, especially as I have become more interested in the whole foods lifestyle, or Paleo. But eating foods that haven't been altered by science, chemicals or copious amounts of sugar isn't a fad, it's how we are supposed to eat.

Convenience and an obsession with outdoing the competition has created a food culture in America that doesn't strike me as healthy. In response there are movements to take us back to the way food is intended to be. Buy local, in season, non GMO, etc. As I wrestle with feeling like a snob when I refuse certain foods, I think about a quote from a book I read about six months ago. The book was written by a Canadian who lived in France with her French husband and tried to understand why French kids ate so differently than her own. She wrestled with the amount of say the government has in the eating habits of children, they are even taught about food in school and their lunches are planned. She was told that North Americans think so differently about food because they have yet to develop their own food culture due to their relative youth. When you look at history, it is true that we are often a few leagues behind Europe on certain developments or matters of political issues, whether good or bad (current events speak to this, as do historical, such as slavery).

The author decided to teach her children to eat like the French children, to think about food as the French do. I think her observation, quoted below, is quite profound, as is her realization that she had to change herself first. If I want my daughter to eat well and treat her body well, I must learn how to first.

"Now, healthy eating is one of the most important skills that parents help their children develop. Underelying this focus on food education for young children [in France] is a simple principle:
"Chances are, my children are not going to grow up to go to Harvard, or to be major league sports stars, concert musicians, or NASA astronauts. But no matter who they grow up to be, how and what my children eat will be of great importance to their health, happiness, success, and longevity."

Quoted from French Kids Eat Everything

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