Thursday, October 27, 2011

How going grocery shopping broke my heart.

What was in my shopping cart yesterday: 7 various spices, whole milk, whole wheat english muffins, mini whole wheat cinnamon bagels, a quart of nonfat plain greek yogurt, kale, 1 honey crisp apple, 2 tango apples, large container of plain old fashioned oatmeal, box of raisins, autumn spice tea, and pistachios

What was in the shopping cart of the person in front of me yesterday: Hawaiian punch soda, doritos, frozen pizzas, sugared gelatin cups, a bag of candy, captain crunch, apple pie, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, heat and serve sausages, giant bag of hash browns and lots and lots of other processed foods.

This was not one of those "go into the store for only one thing and get distracted" trips. This was their bi-weekly (or possibly monthly) shopping trip. They had a ton of stuff.

And not a single fruit or vegetable in any form. Maybe there was some orange juice. And there was the bag of hash browns. But that's it.

No apples, not a single banana, no carrots, no can of green beans, not even a frozen bag of mixed vegetables. Nothing.

It made me so incredibly sad.

That's what they're going to eat for the next 2 weeks?

And it wasn't like these two ladies and their kids were an oddity. I see it all the time.

And it makes me so incredibly sad.

Not counting my spice collection, I had 11 items. They had probably 40. I spent $20 on the food I bought. They spent $160.

They paid with EBT and then scrounged up some dollars and change from their purses.

That made me even sadder because obviously they aren't well off and they had very little to show for all the money they had spent.

They even had to put back a few fruit pies and a 2 liter of soda. But still everything they had left is what I would consider "junk" food.

Now don't get me wrong- it's not like I am all high and mighty over here claiming that I NEVER eat processed foods.

Cuz I do. More than I should. These 20 extra pounds can testify to that.

Yesterday, for instance, I had pizza. But I didn't wash it down with pepsi, a side of cheetos, and a snickers bar.

Yeah, I had pizza. But I also had baby carrots, homemade beef stew with veggies, an apple, milk, and watermelon.

I'm not saying that people who live on processed crap foods are stupid or evil or bad parents.

I don't even think they are ignorant or uneducated about what constitutes a healthy meal.

Every single person I know can look at a bag of chips and a bag of apples and instinctively know which one is better nutritionally.

We all KNOW what healthy is, for the most part.

But I think there are all these myths associated with eating healthily that deter people.

Like that it's expensive. No way. Not if you shop smart. To make the same amount of meals I bet I could have spent 1/2 of what the women in front of me did.

Like that it's normal and that is how everyone eats. In this country it is pretty common. But that isn't saying much. In all of our history as humans, and even just 100 years ago, meals were pretty much home cooked with whole ingredients. There weren't drive-throughs or TV dinners. And even in many other countries in this day and age that is still the case. Our bodies do not thrive on refined flour, sodium, and sugar alone. Sorry.

Like that it doesn't taste good. Lies. Lots of people I know love the taste of watermelon, juicy peaches, and crisp apples. Plenty of people enjoy salsa, guacamole, sweet corn on the cob, marinara, sauteed mushrooms, crunchy baby carrots, baked sweet potato fries, and even fresh baby spinach. We all like some fruits and vegetables and if we tried new or old vegetables, in new ways, more often, I bet we could expand our personal lists of healthy foods we enjoy even further.

Or what about "I don't have time to cook"? Takes 30-40 minutes to bake some chicken breasts and you really don't have to do anything more than sprinkle some seasonings on it and throw it in the oven. Fish like salmon takes even less time. A whopping 10-15 minutes. Steam some cauliflower while you're at it. Boil some whole grain pasta. A bowl of oatmeal or a peanut butter and banana sandwich is done in 5 minutes. You can eat yogurt and grapes and salads straight out of the fridge. You don't have to bake your own bread or prepare elaborate meals if you don't want to.

Processed foods taste good. I get it. They're designed that way.

But healthy food tastes good too.

Balance it out.

They could save a lot of money on groceries and insurance and medical bills. They could add years to their life...

Every time I go to the store there is someone in line who is buying nothing but crap. I so badly want to flip over their carts and scream "FOLLOW ME! I will lead you to the produce aisle!" Because clearly they missed it.

I especially hate when they've got children with them. Adults get to make all the decisions about how money is spent. Kids get no say.

Is there a polite way to tell a total stranger "OH MY GOD you are killing your family!! DO NOT BUY THAT!!"?

I didn't think so.

So if you are standing in line behind a girl buying kale and quinoa and she is quietly weeping as the person in front of her buys Pepsi and popsicles?

Don't worry,

That is just me.

And sometimes the way people choose to feed themselves and their families just makes me so sad.


  1. Oh my gosh, I love this post. I couldn't agree more with you. "Not having the time" and "Can't afford the right foods" are total excuses. Some people are lazy and some people just don't cause because what they like tastes good and that's the way it is. But you are 10000% right in that it will cost them ten fold in insurance and medical bills one day. The saddest part for me is the kids. When I see an overweight child? And in the grocery store with their parent while the cart is filled with crap for food that isn't really food? It breaks my heart.. Because that baby will grow up not even knowing the difference. Thanks for your share and you're not the only one that would like to dump carts out and get through to some people.. ;)

  2. It is really sad; I see that all the time too and just can't take my eyes off the other trolleys. Like you, I'm not saying my diet's perfect but I reckon as long as you follow the 80/20 rule, you're fine. It's when you realise they're not eating any fruit or veg at all!
    I watched a food programme once and the host had a go at the mum for feeding her kids nothing but tinned spaghetti, white sliced bread and packet ham and the mum started crying. I felt a bit sorry for her - but then it turned out she was spending £80 a week on KFC, chips and takeaways! So wrong x

  3. or me =) I'm the same way.... it literally breaks my heart and makes me a little depressed to even witness that. I actually worked for WIC and with the food stamp recipients and that was certainly the norm... and its hard. its hard to say something.. its hard not to do anything but know if you did, you'd hurt someone's feelings in the process, and no one wants to do that! I sat in a chair in a position to say something for a year. and sometimes i didnt. sometimes I COULDN'T. I had to find other ways to bring up veggies in a happy light instead of bashing hawaiian punch... even though i wanted to call hawaiian punch crap and sugar water... i had to say, well i bet your kids would LOVE to make ants on a log with their celery!

    ahhh ill stop rambling. life sucks sometimes, and ps: you can totally make sushi =) ill help

  4. Yeah I always cringe when I see people with shopping carts like that, especially when they have kids. The kids don't know any better, and they are literally being poisoned with junk food from birth!

    It's an issue at the school where I work too. Parents will bring in fast food for their kid's lunch, and I'm like, STOP!!!!