Eating Healthily Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
Most people I run into who ask me about eating healthily often bring up the fact that it costs so much to eat that way. They look at me as though choosing to eat healthily was a matter of choosing health over wallet. Being a wallet driven country, it’s easy for most to make the choice to save money then to shell out for the expensive health foods. But here’s the catch:
What makes cheap food cheap, is the quality of the food, the refining of the food (we don’t pay for the whole grain when we buy a box of cereal, we just pay for a part of it), and the mass production of it. What makes ‘healthy’ store bought foods expensive is the increased quality of the food, the actual food, plus the processing of it. But, it is usually the processing, and the marketing, of the food that is the expensive part. In Michael Pollan’s book “Omnivore’s Dilemma”, he tells the reader that a box of corn flakes consists of $0.04 worth of corn. The corn in the box of cereal is so refined that there is hardly any nutrients left. The oils have been extracted, the proteins removed for by-product foods, and then what’s left is so heavily treated by chemical and mechanical processes, that what’s left is the golden, crunchy, who-knows-what that’s left for the box. Truthfully, consumers are shopping for looks, tastes (of which are extreme and unnatural), shelf-life, originality, false images (this food will make me look like the slim, attractive woman on the commercial), and the effects of conditioning from the mass market to eat these corporate run foods. What matters most in that box of cereal, is money. Why else would someone go so far out of their way to produce non-food looking items, make clever advertisements to train us to them, do research to prove that we should eat it, and decorate the box as to attract their target market – cartoons for kids, and healthy, happy looking people for adults. Seriously! Who is making, and providing food for our health? We are! (Are we?) We have left a time of scavenging in the wild for our own food, being discriminate of which foods will nourish or poison us – to reprogramming ourselves to navigate through the grocery store aisles to sort out what foods will strengthen us, or make us sick. The grocery store has become our new landscape – and the corporate world is making very sure that you choose their prettiest crap… I mean crop, in the bunch.
Choosing foods on the shelf that have the highest price tag doesn’t mean they are the healthiest – perhaps there are some product variations, as in organic farming, which typically costs more to produce, or the green friendly packaging that it’s wrapped in, but the food still may be sugary, processed and horridly difficult to digest. Does this make it a health food? Not in my books! Choosing the $6.00 toaster pastries over the $3.00 type might be like choosing an organic cigarette with recycled paper as oppose to a regular one – they are both still bad for you! Food producers also know that people who want to eat healthily will spend more for the food because everyone thinks it’s true – healthy food costs more money! This means the consumer feels good buying the more expensive option, because chances are it’s healthier for us. Not true.
As we stroll up and down the grocery store aisles, we are being told how to eat. Sandwiches aren’t the same without a particular brand of spread, this rice dish you can heat in the bag (using the microwave!), why make oatmeal yourself when you can carry it in your purse – we are being conditioned by the food producers to eat as they wish. They want us to cook in the microwave, out of a can, a box, a wrapper – it is convenient! The truth is, the more processed foods we eat, the more money they make! An ex-minister of agriculture in United States in the mid-seventies told two interviewers in the movie “King Corn” that his agricultural dream has come true because never before has food cost so little, to the producers, or the consumers (that’s right! In North America, food IS cheap, we just don’t realize it!), but the American economy has never made so much money from the food industry as it has now. Think about how much you paid for your box of cornflakes, and consider the farmer was paid $0.04 to produce it.
It’s time to not be distracted by the food producers – distracted is hardly the word, as when you walk into a grocery store you are absolutely bombarded with messages about food, health and cooking – ALL of it to produce more sales from the store and the products in it. Instead, research at home. Talk to a farmer, or a nutritionist! Listen to your body, and your intuition. We are locked into eating the processed foods that have been with us for decades now. They are a part of our everyday life, wrappers, packages, labels, commercials, all the mass media keeping us in the tunnel of consumerism. But how to we unlock from the grip of consumerism? Here’s how:
Realize where these foods came from. Who grew them? Could you? Who made it? Could you? Why are some foods advertised so heavily and others not? Why are we being told daily to drink milk? Do we? – Yes! Of course we drink milk everyday! We are being told to! What about beans? Have you seen any advertisements or messages to eat beans daily? No. Do we? – No! Why not? Beans are one of the greatest staple foods of the world, eaten by every nation and grown in your own backyard. They may be one of the healthiest foods grown on earth, and the only message we’ve been taught about them is that it makes you fart. That’s it. Beans, what are they good for? Gas – that’s all. Not true! With a 60% animal based diet (that means 60% of our diet is fiberless, cholesterol-rich, and acid forming), and colon, heart and stress problems ubiquitous these days, maybe a little bit more plant based foods would be good for us!? The USA is the leading country for cholesterol intake, as well the leading country for heart attacks, Canada is not far off of that. So you’d think the sale of fiber rich plant based foods would be on the rise, but they’re not – instead laxatives are on the rise. Again, a product that money can be made from.
What to Eat
What should be our medicine, is plant based foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains (the actual whole grain, like brown rice, in it’s entirety, not brown rice crackers and other processed foods), and beans! How much does a 1 lb. bag of aduki beans cost? $1.63. This many beans could feed a family of 4 daily quite a few days. That doesn’t cost much at all now does it? What about whole grains? A 1 lb. bag of whole barley costs $1.09. Again – this could last a family a week if rotated with other grains. Here is a brief profile on aduki beans and barley, in case you’re not sure of why it would be good for you:
Aduki beans: more protein than beef, extremely high in fiber, rich in complex carbohydrates that are energizing and metabolism supporting. Regulates water and sugar, promotes balanced sexual activity, proper growth and development of the body (including the brain), enhances adrenal reserves and tonifies the kidneys, detoxifies the body, reduces inflammation, disperses stagnant blood, reduces swelling, is a diuretic and helpful for yeast conditions. Promotes weight loss, increases mothers milk and regulates menstruation. Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron and B-vitamins. Need I go on? Do they cause gas? Not if you soak them first!
Grains in general (whole grains): reduces sugar cravings, increases metabolism, satiates hunger, relaxes, sharpens mental focus. Increases brain function, provides endurance and lasting energy, encourages deep sleep. Promotes elimination, quick reflexes, long memory and clear thinking. Barley specifically fortifies the intestines and stomach, builds blood and hormones, soothes inflamed membranes, quells fever, helps reduces tumours and swelling. Grains in general are rich in B-vitamins and nutrient dense. Whole grains are the answer to the nutrient deficiencies present with our processed, refined grain diet that leave many craving sugars and feeling irritable.
Adapting a whole foods lifestyle is the real obstacle to leaving a processed food diet, not the costs. With a little education, practice and experience, whole foods can easily be incorporated into anyone’s diet. Whether you have lots of time or none, whole foods are accessible and feasible to incorporate into your existing diet. A slow cooker makes whole foods (especially beans and grains) really simple. Before you go to bed, put the grain, beans and whatever else to season it, into the pot, add water and turn it on! In the morning you will have breakfast and lunch. Voila!
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