Last week, my family and I started watching the movie Fed Up. I’d heard about it for what I thought was a couple of years but was surprised to see it had been out for five. For those of you unfamiliar, its a documentary about the state of food in our nation and the world, and shocker, the role of our government in the proliferation of sugar in both our culture as well as the world. It’s eye opening and worth the 95 mins. I’m not going to give you a play by play recap of the film. Watch it. Be smart. See what you think.
What I am going to do is tell you why it relates to me. I am no geologist, but I was blessed with something I’ll call “common sense”. This little tickle in my brain fires up when something seems off or incorrect. When talking about film, the tickle feels more like a gut punch. I can’t understand why when confronted with the evidence to contrary, we as a nation take a “It’s no big deal” attitude about what we are putting into our bodies. Am I exhausting? Yes. Do I ruin everything? Yes. Will I ever leave it alone? Not until people open there eyes.
Before I dig in deeper, know that I am not perfect. It’s important that I am not hypocritical. I own a health food restaurant called FRESHJUNKIE and while we have been pretty good about both our openness in our philosophy, as well as giving people the things we believe they need rather than just the things they want. We eliminated soft drinks nearly a decade ago, but still have had some items on the menu that had sugar added. We are in the process of redoing our menus for the fall and have doubled down and are seeing where we can cut more.
In 2008, I read Michael Pollan’s, In Defense of Food. In short it was a book that explained how nutritionism, a notion that one food macronutrient (fat, carbs, protein), were to blame for our health and weight crisis and one should be reduced and or increased at the expense of another. Think “low carb, high protein” diets, or any elimination diet. The greater takeaway is that we should eat food that we can buy from as few steps from the producers as possible and mostly cook our own meals. Novel idea I know. I bring this up, because he plays a pretty big roll in Fed Up, but also because what he says was a conclusion my wife got from Fed Up.
As we were talking about the movie, she and I were talking about the food we feed our family. We have two teenagers who inherited my picky gene. We always want to steer them in the right direction without making food an issue, while at the same time letting them be teenagers, a juggling act worthy of RIngling Brothers.
My wifes statement and takeaway, and part and parcel of my writing this was so simple, but not as easy as I’d think. She said, and I paraphrase, “We should really only be eating the things we can cook ourselves.” That’s it.
Fruits, veggies, proteins, starches, fat. None of these are what’s killing us and making us obese. It’s added sugar and processed foods. Period.
A final, “i’m no geologist, but”, common sense add on is this. I am an “every calorie is equal” denier. While calorie reduction is important to a healthy diet, its a question of how we process these calories. 100 calorie packs of processed low fat oreos are not processed the same way 100 calories of an apple are. Especially if all you eat is processed.
Over the past year or so I have struggled with finding how to get your attention to eat at my restaurants. I am immensely proud of our products and what we do and this morning I have vowed to be more vocal about it. Know our products are what I would feed my kids, cooked with love and in a way you can feel safe consuming. We use good fat, we eat carbs, we even put things like croutons that may be processed a little. We are about balance and eating mostly veggies with lean proteins.
It’s the first day of July, 2019. Here are my recommendations to you if you want to take positive steps. Start with the first one. If that’s the only thing you ever do, I promise you, you will feel and be better because of it. Reach out to me if I can ever help you in this journey.
Eliminate soft drinks and sugar added teas.
Shop at the produce stand or outside aisles of the grocery store.
If it comes in a box, it’s probably has very little (read zero) nutritional value.
Eat real food. Mostly plants. Not too much.