Excess sodium, exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, and dicalcium phosphate, yum!

I’ve lately come to realize that I’m developing an issue with food.  You can relax, though, Mom.  I haven’t started binge eating Fun-Sized Snickers bars or snorting squeeze cheese. Although, I do expect someone will eventually be the subject of an episode of Intervention for just that.

No, my issue with food is actually much more basic.  Put simply, I’ve come to the realization that very few of us likely eat enough real food, and I’m thinking that’s pretty screwed up.

Now, I’m not going to climb up on a soapbox and tell everyone what to do with themselves.  Honestly, I’m not sure what to do with myself most of the time – in this case and many others.  But the facts are pretty clear.  Modern “fast food” is mostly a lot of chemistry and not a lot of, well, food.  Information to support the assertion that most of what Americans eat is heavily processed almost-food is everywhere.  Seriously, the articles just linked took me three minutes to locate.  Three.  What’s even worse is that there’s not even really an argument.  When confronted with what’s actually in their products, the major fast food chains did the corporate equivalent of shrugging their shoulders.

And who can blame them?  They’re selling us crack, we love it, and business is good.  What do you think “Sketchy”, your average corner dealer, is going to say when you tell him the rock he sells isn’t so good for his customers.  I wouldn’t bet he suddenly decides to trade in his operation for a wholesome lemonade stand.

Sadly, it’s not just fast food.  The stuff we buy from the modern-day megamarket often isn’t running short on modern chemistry either.  Don’t believe me? Pick up a loaf of packaged, sliced white bread (the best thing since….ever, right?) and check the ingredients.  I wager it won’t be long until you reach a word you can’t pronounce without consulting…um…well, I’m not sure who knows how to say those things correctly.  And sure, that dehydrated, quick-cook just-add-beef box of “Meal Maker” can produce a mostly edible supper with just two cups of water that’s convenient and probably not lethal, but is that the best we can say about our dinner?

The thing is, I doubt very seriously anything I’ve written so far comes as news to anyone with access to the internets (and subsequently can read Puddintopia).  Deep down, I believe we all mostly realize that as a society, we’ve made a kind of Faustian bargain and traded our actual food for convenience and inexpensive, um, stuff, that boosts a corporation’s bottom line.

Trust me, I’m about the last person you’d expect to hear this from.  I’m not really what you would consider a naturalist of any sort.  I don’t weave my own shirts, I’ve never even seen hemp, and I hear burlap chafes.  The only Sierra people I’m big fan of make a delightful pale ale.  When I was a bachelor, I lived on Doritos, ramen noodles, and frozen chicken breasts injected with 10% “solution”. 

Come to think of it, beer is about the only natural product I’ve been consuming on a regular basis for the majority of my adult life.

So what’s the point in all this nonsense?  I don’t know that I have a point, really.  In the back of my head, I’m wonder what it would be like to ditch the modern convenience foods and make a pledge to eat only meat, produce, etc, that comes in raw form from the local mom-and-pop market.  But just considering that feels kind of crazy, like Neo deciding to take the red pill

For one thing, I’m not going to be the guy whose offspring have to watch all the other kids eating popsicles in July while suck on all-natural ice cubes.  Nobody wants to overhear his five year-old daughter say, “Daddy won’t let us have Freezee Pops, they have high fructose corn syrup and he’s a crunchy tree hugger.  Want to share my homemade twig pop?  You can have the leaf this time!"

Seriously, childhood can be hard enough.  I’m not prepared to make them the neighborhood outcasts so I can indulge a whim, no matter how well-meaning.

Oh, and if you think I’m just going to roll home after work tonight and demand that my already over-committed wife, who makes most of our weekday dinners, limit her cooking and shopping to only approved foods, you might want to duck because she’s likely to come out chucking crockpots.  Like most Americans, we live on a grocery budget, and the Puddinette is very good at that whole bargain-shopping-coupon-rocking thing.  And if you haven’t checked recently, let me assure you that it’s a whole lot easier to keep to the budget feeding a family of six when you work with what the supermarket gives you. 

The sad fact of the matter is, real, raw food isn’t cheap, but boxes full of USDA-approved additives, somehow, are.  Better, cheaper living through chemistry, I guess.

The long and short of it is that I wonder if my life would change significantly if I changed what I eat.  Would I feel better if I limited myself to mostly only stuff that was reasonably unprocessed?  Would the lack of chemicals and other additives (which we called preservatives back in my day) maybe trigger a little weight loss or at least give me a healthy smile and a glossy sheen?  I don’t know.  Is it worth the trouble to find out?

I think it might be.

What do you think?