A couple of days ago we went to the Air & Space Museum and had lunch at Whole Foods with some friends of ours. Now I'll preface this next sentence with the fact that I once shopped at Whole Foods regularly....when I was single and thought I was independently wealthy from a (new) teacher's salary. Whole Foods has such healthy food choices! I realize this is like saying there's so much warm water in my tea or (as Abby puts it surprised every time, "Hey, there's a hot dog in my corn dog!" But it's undeniable how few healthy choices exist where we usually shop for our groceries. No matter what you choose, unless it's a piece of fruit or a vegetable that is, you can bet it's filled with preservatives and so many nonfood ingredients that you'd need experience in Latin deciphering its origin. I'm certainly not such a health guru that I know everything to avoid but common sense tells me if it sounds like a 6th grade science experiment it's probably not on the food pyramid and therefore should not be put in my body, or my children's bodies. I can't help but assume some of the diseases we, as a country, are rampantly coming down with by the millisecond are in large part due to foreign chemicals most of us are poisoning our organs with at every meal. I'm not talking about the occasional Dorito or Oreo, I'm mostly talking about the bulk of our diets, the entrees if you will, not so much the apps.
Back to Whole Foods. What I saw there gave me hope that healthy shopping is not only possible, it's a movement. I can say with certainty that whenever we eat poorly (kid food and convenient foodstuffs including hydrolyzed whatevers) we hit a death spiral so quickly that I physically become overwhelmed and so begins the spiral of poor choices, one deviant brain cell at a time. Whenever I revert back to pancake mix pancakes for breakfast, PB&J for lunches (some peanut butter has more preservatives and unpronounceable than the jelly.), chicken nuggets (frozen of course, I haven't Panko'ed a chicken breast in months), or even Trader Joe's "organic" Mac'N Cheese, I can see the ill effects in seconds. The children whir around like mini cyclones on an open field while ripping up anything in their way by their plastic toy rootballs. And because I don't even truly eat a thing, more like hurl kids' leftovers into my mouth while clearing plates to be washed, I am not much better.
Then the attitudes begin. My children are good kids, they really are but you'd never know that when they're high on monosodium glutamate. They pick on each other relentlessly until the tears fall or their just as high on calcium caseinate mother uses her outside voice to stop the inside madness. We are all raw, impatient, frustrated, and looking for a way out. Exactly what our chemistry must look like underneath our skin. It's a true death spiral the likes of the fall of the Roman empire: strong able bodied people succumbing defeat by their even stronger and more able-bodied enemies.
*Here is a great article my mom's cousin, Jeri posted on FB. Excitotoxins
It illustrates what these "excitotoxins" do to our bodies and why we should avoid them as much as possible.
I know some people will say, "Well, I grew up on Twinkies and canned beef stew and I turned out okay." To that I say, are you really okay? Look around and tell me just how many people you know or love have come down with cancer or some other cellular disorder of the body. I can answer that and the number is too exorbitant to just sit idly by. Our bodies are fundamentally working machines that are fueled by the earth, or at least that was the idea a million years ago. Our bodies are made of tiny cells that are directly influenced by what nourishes them. If that cell is "nourished" by a hydrolyzed vegetable protein (found in broths and meat products -HELLO hotdogs - even turkey dogs that Abby eats 4 times a week) instead of an actual vegetable, then it's no wonder our mitochondria begin to deviate from their norm and reproduce in an alien form. You are what you eat. When you eat an alien (aspartame or other sweeteners), you become one on the most cellular level.
Obviously I have a lot to learn about making better food choices and thus life choices for me and my family. I'm not saying that road ahead will be easy or disease free. What I do know is the death spiral we are in now is not an option I can live with, figuratively or literally.
So tonight's mission? To figure out how to cook Tandoori Chicken without MSG or any foreign ingredient. This is forcing me back to the recipe books and ultimately out of my comfort zone (you know, actually cooking vs. heating up) but I'm up for the challenge if the end result is a more balanced and healthier life with myself and my family. And it is, about that I have no doubt whatsoever.