Is Quality High on Your List when You Shop for Food?


Graphic via The New York Times

An article in yesterday’s New York Times insults you. Unless you’re not part of the mainstream of Americans who eat processed food. 

In case you weren’t aware, “Americans eat 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food, and they consume more packaged food per person than their counterparts in nearly all other countries,” according to the article. 

“And Americans do not seem to be as discerning about quality,” says Mark Gehlhar, of the USDA’s Economic Research Service. That’s because our culture has emphasized cheap food over quality food for decades. 

T. Colin Campbell, a nutritionist at Cornell University who is cited in the article says, “there is a lot of money tied up in the industry because it is profitable for companies to make these foods….Processed foods contain large amounts of fat, salt and sugar, and Americans have become addicted to them.” 

What’s scarier is that the food industry enables that addiction, especially through the use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). (For more background on how HFCS got into our diet in the first place, read my blog post from last fall.)  

According to Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Penguin Books, 2007, pp. 93-94), the addition of corn products in our food system has “less to do with nutrition or taste than with economics. For the dream of liberating food from nature, which began as a dream of the eaters (to make it less perishable), is now primarily a dream of the feeders–of the corporations that sell us our food…..Today the great advantages of processing food redound to the processors themselves. For them, nature is foremost a problem–no so much of perishable food…as of perishable profits.”

In case you haven’t noticed, the food processors in this country really don’t care about your health. That’s why the best thing to do–for your health, for your family’s health, and to send a message to the food corporations–is to take the time and spend the money on fresh, quality, local food whenever possible. Yes, it costs more up front but in the long run it’s better for your health and the health of the environment.

Aren’t you worth it? Poor quality food means poor quality living.

You are what you eat.

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One response to “Is Quality High on Your List when You Shop for Food?

  1. I am with you! It’s quality, not quantity. Especially when it comes to feeding growing children. A giant bowl of Kraft mac n cheese has far less nutrition than a small amount of fresh food.

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