We just got back from Bloomingdale’s. We went to buy a new toaster oven. Carol, in the small appliances department, was very helpful. She asked what exactly we used our toaster oven for – I said, “Toast, mostly.” And to warm up foods rather than use a microwave. I was puzzled by the question. Carol enlightened us. She said most customers buy the toaster oven to “cook” foods. In those cases, she points them to the more sophisticated models with convection ovens and large enough to hold a 12-inch frozen pizza. She said that in many cases, this is the only appliance people use. They don’t cook from scratch but pop frozen chicken nuggets into the toaster oven and that’s dinner for the kids. Oh dear.
I guess the problem is more pervasive than I thought. Who is watching the Food Network if no one is cooking? If you want to be healthy, you must cook. Or be able to afford to hire a cook. Because the only way to control the quality of the ingredients that goes into your meals is to buy them as close to the way Mother Nature intended as possible. You really have no way of knowing what went into your processed food but you can be quite sure that in the interests of making a profit, quality is not at the top of any food manufacturer’s list.
Speaking of chicken nuggets, I’m reminded of the time I brought my daughter and a boyfriend to a Stone Barns Farmer’s Market. As we turned into the farm’s driveway, the chickens were out in the pasture to our left grazing and pecking the way chickens were meant to graze and peck. The boyfriend turned green, truly feeling sick at the sight of these birds. Farm Boy had never seen a live chicken in his life. He was 18 years old at the time. Dan’s idea of chicken was the little nuggets that came tidily packed in plastic and cardboard and popped into a toaster oven! He didn’t want to know what his food looked like before it came neatly packaged from the frozen food aisle. He didn’t want to know where it came from.
And that is precisely the point – when you buy a package of chicken nuggets, you don’t know where that “food” came from. You don’t know how that chicken lived its life, whether it was humanely treated, able to roam freely in a pasture in natural sun eating the food a chicken is meant to eat. Since the chances of the aforementioned scenario are quite rare these days, you can pretty much count on the chicken in your packaged chicken nuggets to have lived in a small, crowded cage, having had his beak clipped to keep him from pecking at the other birds sharing his abode. The cages are crammed together in a barn with some bare light bulbs and an exhaust fan as the only clue that there is some fresh air and light. The chicken is fed an unnatural diet, even sometimes cannibalizing the remains of other chickens that didn’t survive their cruel and inhumane treatment. Antibiotic use becomes necessary as the crowded conditions under which these birds are raised means disease is more rampant. And the chickens are fattened up to go to market as soon as possible, meaning their skeletal systems have not matured enough to carry their own weight. Many succumb before they ever get to be slaughtered.
Of course there are folks that don’t want to know about this. They’re able to put on the blinders because it’s easier not to know or to care. Until we get sick. And we’re flabbergasted that some horrific chronic ailment has befallen us. What we saved in food dollars on dubious food items, we pay in spades on the other end with health care dollars. The next time you question whether an organic vegetable from you local farm is too expensive, think about the cost of one prescription for drugs, one doctor visit, one hospital stay. When it comes to food, go for the gold. You ARE what you eat.
Filed under: Healthy Eating Tagged: | Chronic Illness, Diet, Eating Habits, Factory Farms, Fast Food, Food Budget, Food Prices, Food Supply, Healthy Eating, Home Cooking, Junk Food, Nutrition, Packaged Processed Food, Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Farming