It's All Edible (Isn't It?)

It's official, the local rag did a weighted study and concluded that due to rising food costs, less time to cook & the excess of quick cheap fast food, we are all in trouble. We're getting fat, we have no money for healthy food, our children will never know the joy of a bowl of watermelon on the porch or PB&J with chewy homemade bread crust. Meat costs more, milk costs more, the corn to feed the cows that provide the latter costs more--whatever will we do? Children, as we all know, must have meat and cheese and bread and twinkies at every meal; how else will they grow? They must have all the essentials to fatten them up, make them well rounded little copies of the rest of society. Mom and Dad are finding that they can't afford the mortgage, the Escalade payments, the boat insurance, the MC, Discover and Amex bill & the weekly food bill. We can't not go to McDonalds with all Jimmy's friends after soccer every Saturday. We can't not stop at Starbucks on the way home from school each afternoon--what would the other moms say? Child cruelty you'd think, to deprive your tot of chicken nuggets, no-coffee coffee drinks and super-processed fruit shapes held together with sugar and guar gum.
I'm perplexed by the entire "healthy food is too expensive", "cooking takes too much time" & "it's hard for me to exercise" trio of mantras that I read every day in print or hear uttered by friend and stranger alike.
1. Healthy food is not inherently expensive.
Have meat and dairy become more expensive? Yes. But... We eat too much meat, the recommended serving of red meat is 4-5 ounces. That package of sirloin steak that you just winced at buying--all $27 dollars and 4 pounds of it--would feed your family of four over a series of meals. No, everyone does not need a full steak, nor even half a steak. Dairy too is more expensive, but read the label please: Jimmy really does not need 6 8oz. glasses of milk per day, nor does Jane need 7 slices of Kraft cheese every night with her dinner; yes, the calcium is good for little bones, ditto too the minerals and vitamins, but what of the calories and fat? There is nothing wrong with telling Jimmy that he can have one glass of milk at each meal, nor with telling Jane she's limited to 2 slices of cheese. You are an adult after all, be a parent.
What of other foods? Where are the vegetables and whole grains, leafy greens and chunks of watermelon, pretzels and M&Ms? Waxing a bit, I remember times when I was told that not eating certain foods meant I'd sit at the table all night (for me this was usually brussels sprouts or peas, two things I ironically now really like); I wasn't expected to eat all of the offensive food, I just had to try a few bites. Few bites finished, I was free to excuse myself to play or read or call a friend. Growing up snack foods and candy were luxuries of a sort, things that were earned or consumed only at certain times of the day or under "set" circumstances. Watching movies on Sunday night usually insured my brother and I pizza, sometimes homemade sometimes not, with chips and pretzels to follow. If we were really good (I think that was the criteria anyway), mom or dad would make us milkshakes. The point is, mom and dad used some discipline to get us to eat "what was good for us" and rewarded us with what was sometimes not. Sure, those foods that we loathed reappeared on our plates a few weeks later, but by then we knew the drill. Some foods we even came to like and crave after a while. Ask my brother about spinach and mustard.
2. Cooking takes too much time.
I am a single guy. Contrary to what television and Hollywood will have us believe, I can cook. If it's available in a restaurant somewhere, I can usually fabricate it at home. I have a rule about eating out that I won't buy something that I can easily make at home. This usually means that I either eat meat when I'm out (I almost never buy meat to prepare at home) or food with multiple preparation steps (think gnocci, moussaka, paella). As to the time variable, it takes about 2 minutes to dice up a tomato, open & drain a can of chick peas and throw together a vinaigrette. If I really need more, 10 minutes will add couscous, seared tuna and steamed vegetables to the table. 15 minutes and the meal is ready. Seriously, cooking takes too much time?
3. It's hard for me to exercise.
We burn calories from the time that we get up in the morning until the time that we go to bed. We burn calories in our sleep. Sneeze? You just burned a few calories. Fart? Ditto. On average, we burn about 2k calories each and every day, just doing the things that we do throughout the day. Need to burn more calories? That's where exercise comes into play, but it doesn't have to be going for a run or swimming or doing high-impact aerobics. Take the stairs up to the office (and back down, yes I know it's 10 flights), walk 16 blocks to the bank, weed the flower beds, do something. Anything. It all adds up, exercise is cumulative. Want even more bang for your buck? Track your calories, make sure that you are only consuming 2k, if you consume less, that's good, you're further ahead at the end of the day. Eat more? Do more. Period.
I'm off for coffee now, but a few words of wisdom before I go: if you think you're fat, head to Walmart...it's sort of self explanatory.

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