To Read: What is Food? by Mark Bittman

I’m kind of a food jerk. There, I said it. I am one of those mean people that wouldn’t mind if we banned super-harmful foods (especially in schools), just as I look at people who still smoke and wonder why they still do it (especially when it’s FREEZING outside). Don’t yell at me for this, because I know this is NOT the opinion of most people, and I claim no POLITICAL affiliation based on my views (I couldn’t argue the Left/Right debate even if I tried), and this does not reflect the opinion of my cohorts.

I went for a walk around Liberty Park this morning with Pancho in the Ergo and pushing ZJ in the BOB while my 5YO was at day camp, and loved it despite the heat. But what surprised me is how many people were walking with sodas or frosty Starbucks drinks in hand. I know health is more than calories in-calories out, but if we’re exercising to help our bodies feel strong and lean, then wouldn’t we want to watch what goes into them as well, at least WHILE exercising?

I’m also a fan of insurance companies charging more for people living unhealthy lifestyles. My husband’s employer gives us a minor discount for being “healthy”, meaning we have few enough risk factors that we aren’t a likely threat to insurance premiums (though I’ll be the first to admit – having kids is not a cheap activity). I like that discount. But then again, I also like my kids to learn to bear the burden of natural consequences, like if they don’t put their things away, they may not be able to find them later or if they don’t eat their meal, they might be hungry later.

I do confess, though, that I love treats and a sugar-fast right now might send me into a fit (I am nursing a HUGE baby after all). BUT I cannot honestly remember the last time I bought a soda.

So, I just read this article by Mark Bittman, who is always fun to read. The whole article can be found here, and I’d recommend it. But here are a few of the highlights… (though as I look at them parsed out like this, they’re much less elegant and cohesive than his whole article).

“To (loosely) paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, your right to harm yourself stops when I have to pay for it. And just as we all pay for the ravages of smoking, we all pay for the harmful effects of Coke, Snapple and Gatorade.”

“So perhaps we ask: What, exactly, is food? My dictionary calls it “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.” That doesn’t help so much unless you define nutritious. Nutritious food, it says here, “provides those substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.””

“Added sugar, as will be obvious when we look back in 20 or 50 years, is the tobacco of the 21st century”

“We should be encouraging people to eat real food and discouraging the consumption of non-food. Pretending there’s no difference is siding with the merchants of death who would have us eat junk at the expense of food and spend half our lives earning enough money to deal with the health consequences.”


6 thoughts on “To Read: What is Food? by Mark Bittman

  1. I’m your cohort and totally side with you on everything! I called the school system a few months ago to see if they provided any vegetarian or vegan school lunch options out of curiosity. The front office had no idea and sent my call down to the lunch ladies. They said that they are government mandated to provide meat and dairy in every meal in order to provide complete proteins. I asked about plant based proteins, she said they DON’T count. Now, I understand this is the same system that classifies ketchup as a serving of vegetable. There’s a lot of work to be done there and I applaud Jamie Oliver for his efforts even if they still include meat and dairy, because at least his program offers whole foods.

    I wonder if we can ask for the vegan discount with IHC 😉 wouldn’t that be rad? Bear River gives us a discount on car insurance for not drinking….. Gonna read that Mark Bittman article. Thanks for your 2 cents, you have been missed my dear 😉

  2. I love the fact that you decided to express your opinion on this topic- it is such a sensitive issue for people; once people start thinking other’s are telling them what to do they automatically get defensive even if there point doesn’t make the slightest sense “its my choice, my body”…but as Mark Bittman points out, those that are trying to live a healthy lifestyle are paying for those that are not, so in the end it is affecting us all- perhaps if americans were more educated in healthu food, living and the sources of our food then perhaps we could hope they would make better choices – this is my favorite line from the article “We should be encouraging people to eat real food and discouraging the consumption of non-food” it is sad that most americans even got to this point of not enjoying “real food” – I loved reading your thoughts on this!

    • i have the problem of often over-expressing my opinion and I’m not always in everyone’s good graces for it, but on this one especially, it hits so close to home. Everyone is affected by the food industry, in fact we were thinking the other night about all of the different industries that have either been created or HUGELY impacted by the HFCS/Sugar pushing industry – medical, fitness, mental health, fast food/grocery, to packaging and the waste industry. Imagine the energy we could put into enjoying life and improving our real health and the health of the planet if education was honest. Yesterday we had Sesame Street on and they even pushed the need to drink milk for calcium and I realized how confused we are as a consumer society. So thanks for supporting even controversial topics that are SOOO important. We need more cheerleaders and those willing to teach. I’m trying to temper my tone so I can be more effective – nobody wants to listen to the crazy chick!

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