Keeping the house, the kids and the hubby without breaking the bank, the earth, the people I love, or myself.

Can we talk about food for a minute?

That British Woman strikes again! She posted this video on her blog and got me going.

Notice the table of food in the segment on the Edwards' family's eating habits at 7:50. Jaime says this is "normal" eating for many a family. I have never in my life known any family that ate that way. The Edwards don't cook anything, they deep fry everything and nothing they have is edible straight out of the fridge besides milk. That's not normal. That's extreme. I have never deep fried anything. My ex husband used to deep-fry french fries regularly. He cut them from potatoes, though, not by opening a freezer bag. The deep fryer went with him when he moved out, by the way.

Again, look at the food on Edwards' table. Pizza, fries, sausages, corn dogs (deep fried), pancakes, hotdogs, Little Debbie treats. Calorie-dense, fat-dense, and nutrition-poor is every single food on that table. Every food is highly processed. Anything that has been processed is easy to digest meaning it is easily turned directly into fat.

Stop for a second and think about the greatest source of processed food North Americans eat. Wheat.

This is what wheat berries look like:

I remember when I was in Junior High School and the teacher was talking about nutrition in the 1800's and how people would eat boiled wheat berries.  I said, "we do that."  He told me we did not.  "No one eats wheat berries," he said.  I said, "we do."  He insisted I was telling stories.  My mother regularly served us wheat berries for hot cereal in the morning and even for an after-school snack.  They're quite good, actually.  Rather nutty in flavour, somewhat crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  I like them plain now, but I usually had them with some milk when I was a child.

This is a diagram of a whole kernel of wheat:  

The white endosperm on the inside is what is left after processing for the commercial food and flour market.  The outer bran and nutrient-rich germ have been removed.  Even after the endosperm is all that remains, it is processed some more by bleaching and grinding to a fine powder.  They use chlorine and peroxide to bleach the endosperm.  Would you pour bleach over your food before eating it?

What is removed from the wheat berry to make processed white flour is 40% of the kernel.  The most nutrient-dense parts of the wheat kernel are removed:  the b-vitamins, most of the fibre -- in all more than half the original nutrients are removed.  Which is why white flour has to be enriched.  But they don't put back what was taken out.  There is no replacement fibre and the vitamins added are pale in comparison to what was removed!  To learn more about the health benefits and nutrients in whole wheat, check out this article at WHFoods. 

This one simple food is indicative of why processed foods are bad for us.  The foods are stripped of their inherent nutrients and often have other things like sugar, fat, sodium and lesser vitamins added.

I caught a little bit of Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution show on tv last week.  Jaime's emotional histrionics in response to an article that had him  calling the West Virginians he was to be helping "stupid" and "lost causes" was too much for me.  His bout of crying was contrived and quite pathetic.  Grow a set, man! 

While I agree with what he's doing and the fact that the American schools' nutritional programs are idiotic at best (ketchup is a vegetable, dontcha know) I think he's missing a huge point.  I think everyone is missing a huge point.

It's not just the food that's killing us. It's the lack of movement.  Kids sit in a classroom six hours a day and are lucky to get 30 minutes of physical activity on some days.  They go home to play video games and watch tv.  And what are they doing while playing video games and watching tv?  Snacking.  Sedentary lifestyles are as much to blame as poor eating habits for the current obesity epidemic.  If activity levels are not addressed, no progress will be made against obesity.

The New York Times recently published an article highlighting the dangers of too much sitting:

"when you spend long periods sitting, your body actually does things that are bad for you.
As an example, consider lipoprotein lipase. This is a molecule that plays a central role in how the body processes fats; it’s produced by many tissues, including muscles. Low levels of lipoprotein lipase are associated with a variety of health problems, including heart disease. Studies in rats show that leg muscles only produce this molecule when they are actively being flexed (for example, when the animal is standing up and ambling about). The implication is that when you sit, a crucial part of your metabolism slows down.

"Nor is lipoprotein lipase the only molecule affected by muscular inactivity. Actively contracting muscles produce a whole suite of substances that have a beneficial effect on how the body uses and stores sugars and fats."

What are kids being taught in American schools about nutrition?  I remember being taught the four basic food groups of dairy, meat, vegetables and fruit when I was in school.  Now there are pyramids which, frankly, written by the government are not to be trusted.  I think most people would gain weight following the food guide's recommendations.  I believe an independent guide is more reliable.  Harvard came up with one based on up-to-date reliable scientific information and without major business' interests in mind.  Check it out. 

I know American schools are idiotic when it comes to nutrition.  My daughter is lactose intolerant and was identified as such in early childhood.  She had to show a doctor's note every single day in order to forgo the milk at school.  

In our Ontario school system kids are being taught at an early age to discern between "healthy" foods and "not healthy" foods.  Schools encourage parents to send nutritious lunches and snacks and limit or eliminate high sugar, high fat snacks from their children's lunchboxes.  My five year old will point out healthy foods and "not healthy" or "sometimes" foods -- sometimes foods are foods that should only be eaten occasionally, not frequently.  That's pretty much how we do it here.  90% of what my kids eat is prepared by me, full of nutrition and goodness.  Quite a lot of what they eat is raw -- fresh fruits and vegetables.  While the US aims for 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the Canadian government encourages up to 10.  I think Canada's on to something.

Do you serve your kids fresh fruits and vegetables at meals?  Try it if you haven't done it.  It doesn't need to be a fancy tray of unusual fruits and vegetables.  I put out a platter of apple and orange slices with dinner the other night and guess what?  They all disappeared!  It's not much work at all.

Oh, and this malarkey that unhealthy food, fast food, highly processed foods are cheaper than healthful foods is NONSENSE!  Absolute and utter nonsense.  Take that burger meal from McDonald's or Burger King.  For a buck or two you can get a 2 oz burger on a bun with a bit of ketchup and mustard and pickle slices.  Well for 2 bucks in the states and 3 bucks in Canada, you can buy a pound of extra lean fresh ground beef and for another 2 bucks  8 whole wheat buns.  You can make five 3-ounce burgers and serve 5 people for less than four or five dollars.  You can add fresh onion, tomato and lettuce for another buck.  Come on people, it's not rocket science and it's not going to put you in the poor house!  And by the way, when you make your own burgers, you don't have added transfats (which will kill you and should be eliminated from the food supply entirely) or any of the chemical preservatives that will keep a Happy Meal from decomposing for years.


Gill - That British Woman 7:06 AM  

I know Jamie is a bit over dramatic but he does do good work, and at least it's getting people to think and talk about what they eat.

I enjoyed your post, you are a good writer.


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About This Blog

Saving money. Saving graces. Raising children, husbands and, sometimes, cats. Laughing. Living. Thinking. Doing. Life in the Niagara Region of Ontario.

About Me

I am a happily married woman with four children and various cats and kittens (fosters). I love to read and my favourite authors are George RR Martin, Thomas Hardy, Raymond Carver, PD James, Kurt Vonnegut, J. K. Rowling, and Margaret Atwood. I know there are only three women in that list (and none of them American), so if you'd like to suggest some I'm willing to give them a shot! And yes, I am an American living in Canada. (Hence the nick -- CannedAm.) I like it here. There are things about the states that I miss, but my love is here and this country has things to offer that my own does not. Things that make my quality of life much better than it ever was in Ohio. Guess I'm stuck here. Though there's a nice spot in the Appalachian hills where I'd love to spend my retirement.

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