December 18, 2017

What Are We Supposed to Eat, Then?

what are we supposed to eatBy Julie Samrick

My kids now say, “Ewwww!” whenever we drive past a McDonald’s. Those pictures of warm, tasty nuggets on billboards don’t deceive them now that they’ve seen how they’re really made. Apparently that pink goo in the photo circulating around the web isn’t strawberry milkshake, but the beginning of “chicken nuggets.”


We are barraged with confusing information about how to choose what to eat. For instance, we are told to stay in the outside aisles of the grocery store, away from the packaged, processed foods in the center. The periphery is where the meat and produce are, the simple foods without additives even our forefathers ate long ago.  But be careful to choose animal products that haven’t been injected with hormones! Hotdogs and lunchmeats?  Run, don’t walk, from those nitrate laden cancer causers! No wonder meat consumption is down 12% since 2007. Yet people younger than 30 and those over 65 are the ones cutting back. The other bunch of us in the middle are still cooking dinner every night and searching for practical meal options for our families, scratching our heads over what we’re supposed to serve.


We are also told to shop organic; then, not to be fooled by the “organic” labels- they are just a way to ratchet up prices. And remember, produce equals pesticides, so it’s best to skip the store altogether and just plant your own garden.


Then when we want to forget it all, maybe take our kids to a restaurant, we’re confronted with those staggering caloric index reminders, or back to the images of pink slime we still can’t get out of our heads.


It’s become clear to the average citizen that with the abundance of food today, the quality of it has fallen. Cheaper fillers are added to make more products for less money. “60 Minutes” recently aired an episode on the pervasiveness of sugar in the American diet, even calling it a “toxin” and blaming it for much of the illnesses that plague our society today.  The problem- it’s hard to find anything on grocery store shelves that doesn’t contain sugar. For the past few years high fructose corn syrup, an artificial, cheaper alternative to sugar has been called out as the true villain, experts telling us to eat table sugar in its place.  The message got across loudly from consumers they didn’t want it in their food anymore.  If you read labels carefully, much of the HFCS has been replaced with sugar once again. Many moms like me even gravitated towards healthier sounding sugars like “organic cane juice” when label shopping, but we are finding sugar is sugar, despite its different names.  


We need to get back to basics. In the 2008 bestselling book The Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan proposed we should only eat meat we hunt ourselves. Really? This is his solution for taking matters into our own hands as to what quality of food we consume? Last I heard, only people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have the time, resources and stomach to follow Pollan’s advice; I know I don’t.


Our lives won’t get any less busy, and for many parents it just makes sense to buy the frozen bag of meatballs than to hand roll each meatball from scratch. But wouldn’t it be great if we could get a bag of frozen meatballs made with truly quality ingredients?


There is only one simple tactic that has always worked when enough people care: let not just our voices, but our wallets, do the talking.  Within days of the McDonald’s “pink slime” story going viral, McDonald’s issued a statement that they “will no longer use the ammonium hydroxide process.”  The people were definitely heard. Let’s keep it up and demand better food for our families.



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  1. The reason it’s all so confusing is that we as a society are 3 generations removed now from how our great grandparents ate as well as their ancestors for thousands of years before that. We’ve forgotten the traditions of prepping and growing real food. Sadly the tastebuds of many Americans don’t even identify with real food. I’m grateful to live in the Sacramento Valley where there are numerous weekly farmers markets within driving distance from my home. That’s where I purchase the vast majority of my meat (pastured) and produce (orgainic/pesticide-free) from the people who raise it and can speak first hand about their farming practices. I’m also grateful to have space in my backyard for a garden and a husband who enjoys planting, tending, and harvesting. Meatballs are indeed time consuming to roll! But kids can help with that when they want meatballs. Otherwise homemade and baked grass-fed burgers are a sinch and almost as fast as the time it takes to drive to McDonalds and back. My favorite recipe is 1 lb. burger, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp. marjoram, 1/2 tsp. sage, 1/4 tsp. chili powder, 1/4 tsp. mustard powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp pepper. If your family eats bread, you can also crumble up a couple of slices of bread and toss it in there too. I skip the bread. Mix everything up and divide and press into 4 patties. GENEROUSLY salt and pepper both sides of the patties and place in an uncovered casserole dish. Cover patties with your favorite unprocessed cheese and bake uncovered at 400 deg. for 20 minutes. Chop and steam some veggies and prep burger toppings (lettuce, tomato slices, onions etc.) while they’re baking and you have dinner ready 30 minutes start to finish.

    • Awesome points, Kim, and thanks for the yummy recipe too! I just wish Farmer’s Markets and the like weren’t anomalies- it would be great for busy families to get quality food at their local grocery store. But, I suppose nothing worth doing should come easy, and food should be most important. Thanks!

  2. Alix allocco says:

    It is just crazy how our food is so processed! I have been reading a lot about what “the big food companies” are feeding the animals that feed us. Example they feed chickens with arsnic- to make the meat pinker, antibiotics daily- to keep them healthy, anti depressant and anti anxiety medicine (proxaic)- to keep them less stressed because of the over crowding!!! This is crazy!! I buy all organic grass feed or cage free!! I am currently considering buying meats online from local farms where you can track everything.

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