In Food We Trust

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Fitness

I live in Victoria – by all accounts a pretty fit city.  We have access to fresh air, local food, and 3000 fitness and yoga studios.  I’ve read many times that the North American obesity rate is hovering at 70%, but I have not seen that percentage represented here.

Last month, our family took our kids to Disneyland and we saw first hand the reality behind the stats we hear about.  The vast majority of people we saw were carrying at least an extra 20 pounds and many were carrying an extra 100 lbs or more. Everyday we saw a dozen people so fat that they couldn’t move – they used motorized scooters to get around.  I saw a very obese middle-aged woman reaching out her hands to her teenage son so he could pull her off the bench.  I’m middle-aged.  I have a teenage son.  I tried to imagine that life for myself.

And I tried to understand what I was seeing from a place of compassion.

If 70% of the population is obese we’ve got a problem on a societal level.  This is not a simple issue of self-control.  We didn’t have this problem 100 years ago.

If we take access away from healthy living – cram people behind office desks and feed them MSG in the form of “natural ingredients” – they’re gonna get fat.  Our society is proof of that.  Based on my experience, I know that a great many of us are trying to do the right thing by our health and are being misled.  We are bring sidetracked by the all the corporate interests involved in the production and monetization of food.

I believe that the vast majority of us are a trusting sort.  Most of us are wired that way.  Everyday we have a great many interactions and most of them are built on trust.  When someone breeches our trust, it’s a really big deal and it confuses us.  Sadly, every day our trust is being breached by companies saying they are providing us with nutritious food when in fact they are providing us with addictive chemicals in food-like substances.

So here’s a thought:  We’re not fat because we’re stupid.  We’re fat because we’re trusting.

And here’s a question:  Can we look at this from a critical place while maintaining our general trust of humanity or does choosing a healthy life doom you to cynicism?


  1. Susan Low says:

    Wow that’s a deep question.

    I like to think that there’s a zone between cynicism and naivete called “realism.”

    We know that we can’t take things at face value when they are printed on food labels by most large (and some small) companies, because the motivation for people who make those labels is perverted. Employees need to earn salaries so they can eat, so they do what their bosses tell them. Their bosses tell them to maximize shareholder returns, so decisions are made that favour the shareholder above all else. As long as we have a capitalist system and allow our governments to pursue “reduced regulation” this will be the case. The human mind is not equipped to make choices between its own survival and what is best for society as a whole.

    However, we can have some optimism that out there, somewhere, there are some people who are finding a “middle way” between shareholder returns and public good. We can advocate for better access to “non-manufactured” food for everyone. It may mean economic shrinkage, but so does mass extinction due to unchecked obesity.

    Okay nope… I guess cynicism is the way to go.

  2. Mr. S says:

    Very well put. People do trust the food industry WAY too much. They associate labels that say “natural” and “made with real fruit juice” with good health, often never stopping to read the ingredients. The new HCG Diet even has people convinced to drink what is essentially pregnant girl urine.

    Your point about how fit we were 100 years ago was good. I implore you took look back further than that, though. Go back 10,000 years. Before the agricultural revolution. I guarantee that grains have negatively affected humans’ health far more than MSG has. In fact in small doses, MSG is better for you than salt as you will ingest less sodium. Not to say that it is good for you, it’s just not as evil as people think. Grains are far more dangerous.

    100 years ago we were more active, yes. We were also fitter as a result. 10,000 years ago we were both fit and eating what humans were meant to eat. No grains, refined sugars, fizzy drinks, mounds of pasta or deep fried foods.

    And I also choose cynicism.

    • hitgirl says:

      Thanks so much for your comment. PREGNANT GIRL URINE?

      I totally agree – 10,000 years ago we were all natural. We also died at 25. I’m certainly not against progress, and I agree that by all accounts wheat seems better left out of the diet. But I’m not 100% convinced.

      The thing about cynicism, is that there is no end to it. See, I distrust the cynic. I guess that makes me a meta-cynic. Today we’ll say wheat is dreadful. Tomorrow – we’ll say it’s awesome. I think we need to rely a little more on personal experience (and good science if you can find it) and a little less on what’s currently hot on topic.

      • Mr. S says:

        Yeah, urine…
        “…human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) is a hormone produced during pregnancy that is made by the developing embryo after conception…”
        It’s what is measured when you take a pregnancy test. People are taking injections and drinking the stuff as part of their diet. The other part of the diet is only eating about 500 calories per day. Sketchy, right?

        I wasnt fully convinced about the whole “grains are bad” movement, either. My Gung Fu teacher pitched the idea to me. After some reading about it, my wife and I both decided to try it. The science made sense to me. Since starting the diet I’m down 50lbs and my abs are starting to peak through… I never thought I had any. My wife has also lost noticeable weight, although she won’t tell me how much haha. Part of the weightloss is clearly due to the effort i put in working out, running and fighting, but starting this diet drastically accellerated my fat loss. I now firmly believe that grains have no place in our diet. The only benefit of eating them is that they taste good (I LOVE bread. It’s what I miss the most).

      • hitgirl says:

        Mr. S. You certainly aren’t alone in seeing such positive results from cutting out wheat. I’ve not cut it out completely but cut back by about 90% and I admit to feeling better for having done it.

        Anyone will lose weight if they’re eating 500 calories, regardless of a urine supplement. 🙂

  3. Angela says:

    Yup, cynicism. Every time I think it might be safe to trust that a food manufacturer has my best interests at heart, I am quickly proven wrong. Again and again. It’s a sad state of affairs! There are a few good ones out there, so I’m not completely jaded yet. In our house we shop the outside aisles, buy as local and organic as possible, and cook most things from scratch. Ya know, like our great-grandparents used to, using real food!

  4. hitgirl says:

    What if we went into our local grocery store and said: Dear Thrifty’s although I appreciate you supporting our community and providing jobs to encourage the local economy, I cannot no longer shop here because 99% of your goods is poison food (to use Tim Caufield’s term).

    Of course, this would never happen. Maybe one or two of us would say that and the 17 year-old check out clerk would roll their eyes and go – ‘yeah, whatever mom’. But let’s just say – 10,000 people did it at the local level. Then we have a movement. Unorganized cynicism just has the effect of making you sound like a know-it-all and pissing off all your friends and never getting invited over for dinner. But, at least we can rest in the comfort of knowing we are right and everyone else is wrong. 🙂 How’s that for cynicism?

    • Angela says:

      Lol! I guess since we’re destined to be lonely, jaded cynics who never get invited anywhere for dinner, we had better plan our own party! 😉 I’ll bring the Twinkies if you bring the Diet Coke….maybe Tim could contribute a couple bags of M&M’s. ;p

  5. HB says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences here on your blog.

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