Too Many Evils

Grocery shopping. Two words that can send the most mature adult you know into a whiny fit. Don’t shake your head – I know it’s not just me. But lately, grocery shopping has gotten even more stressfulwhich is something I didn’t even know was possible.

Once upon a time, I admit, I found grocery shopping fun. My husband and I would go together and we’d actually have a good time choosing our groceries. I know you’re thinking “she’s going to say it was before they had kids” and you’d be right but that’s (shockingly) not the only reason.

We were young. We were in our late teens and 20s, which is right smack-dab in the middle of the time in your life where you live in the here-and-now. You don’t think about the future. You buy Cheetos and you enjoy the crap out of them. You don’t care what’s in them. I’m not saying that’s all we ate but we certainly didn’t “care” as much back then about what we put in our bodies. And our metabolisms, they kept up with us. Our debit card didn’t groan during checkout because we were only buying for 2. It was glorious.

Enter the children and grocery shopping became a punishment. But not in the way you’re thinking. Well, not entirely in that way, anyway.

Wanting the absolute best for my children, I began to read labels. By reading the labels, I realized that hardly anything I had been buying was actually food; it was chemicals and fillers. Who wants to eat corn meal with “cheese flavoring”, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and yellow #6? That, my friends, are some of the listed ingredients of Cheetos. Gross.

How about fruit snacks – those low-fat gummy treats boasting that they provide your child with 100% daily value of vitamin C? First ingredient? Corn syrup. Second? Sugar. Modified corn starch. Natural and artificial flavorings. Oh, and red 40 and blue 1. Yuuuuum.

How are these things considered food? Thankfully, it seemed as though a lot of other people became concerned with this because it was getting easier to find “all natural” alternatives. Even if it wasn’t certified organic, I still felt better giving my family foods that contained actual ingredients and still do. But now even just looking for organic and/or natural ingredients isn’t enough. Enter… dun-dun-DUNNNNN… the Great GMO debate.

Ahhhh, GMOs. Genetically Modified Organism. Disclaimer: I am not a biotechnician, nor am I  an authority on genetically modified vs. conventional farming but something tells me that eating food whose genetic thumbprint has literally been modified for whatever reason (to repel aphids that can hurt the crop or to keep an apple from turning brown once the flesh has been exposed to air, etc) just isn’t good for us. The fact that Monsanto wants to keep GMO labeling off of products just maddening. I’m pretty sure I deserve to know what I’m putting into my body and the bodies of my children.

So now, as I walk through the aisle of the local supermarket, I don’t see cereal or juice or margarine. I see GMO grain (General Mills Cheerios), high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavoring (majority of juice) and a chemical crapstorm (margarine). To navigate through this “food” is exhausting and at this point in time, there is absolutely no way (for us) to completely avoid all the crap masquerading as food. If I could afford to buy myself a farm, grow my own fruit and vegetables and had all the time in the world to make every single thing my family ate from scratch, I would do it.

Unfortunately, it’s 2014, not 1914. We can’t do that so I do the best with what I’ve got. I avoid overly processed foods like the plague. I avoid artificial flavorings, preservatives, additives, and processed and low/no-fat stuff like the plague. It’s nothing but chemicals and our bodies were not designed to metabolize chemicals. So yes, I feed my family actual butter instead of partially hydrogenated soybean (which did you know is one of the biggest GMO crops out there?) oil and water, which is what you may know as margarine. I also buy as much local produce as possible from the various farmer’s markets in my area and I buy majority of our meat from a local butcher.

I try not to buy products owned by Big Food (General Mills, Kellogg’s, ConAgra,

Isn't this terrifying?

Isn’t this terrifying?

MARS, Unilever, Nestle, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mondelez – formerly Kraft, etc) but even that is damn near impossible. Look at the image to the left. Those corporations don’t care about your health. They care about profit. And they’re sneaky. I thought I had found the spaghetti jackpot when I discovered Muir Glen Organic tomato sauce and paste. I read the label, saw none of the companies in the image to your left, and felt good about my find. Until I found out that Muir Glen is distributed by Small Planet Foods, which is owned by… wait for it… General Mills. Same with Cascadian Farms, another former favorite of mine, and most recently, GM’s newest acquisition, Annie’s Homegrown. The same General Mills that has put millions into keeping GMO labeling off the labels of your food.

Is your head spinning? Welcome to my world every two weeks! Ridiculous, isn’t it?