The Journey of Finding Good Food
Picture yourself in the cereal aisle of your grocery store. Maybe you are trying to find a breakfast low in sugar, but then you start deliberating about protein and fiber. You grab one off the shelf, only to walk past a new section devoted to organic cereals. Now you start second-guessing your choice. Finally you wonder: Why are there so many boxes of cereal? Should I even be eating cereal?
It can get confusing.
As a public health registered dietitian, I spend a lot of time in these aisles. More questions flood my mind: Where did this food come from and how was it sourced? Does this preservation method impact the nutrient availability of the food? How will purchasing this food affect the place where it was harvested? I can’t remain in the aisle for too long, since I am also the proud mama of a precocious toddler. My daughter perches in the grocery cart, vocalizing her question: Can I have this? I need it!
She is right, technically. We all need food. Nutritious food helps our bodies thrive. When we make a purchase, we impact the bodies of other people and the land itself. Food comes from a chain of laborers who grow, harvest, process, and deliver it to us. The Executive Director at the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Angie Tagtow, frames it this way: “Healthy soil grows healthy food. Healthy food nourishes healthy people. Healthy people form healthy communities." Consumers are looking for this “healthy” and “sustainable” food. Yet in our heavily marketed food environment, these words can get misrepresented.
Maybe even after sorting through this labeling confusion, you still have restrictions on your food choices. It may be financial, ethical, or time constraints. You could have medical or geographical limitations that make it difficult to eat well. Finally, there's a variety of taste preference; if you’re like me, you really love food, whether that’s a salty bowl of ramen (be still my heart!) or a warm, chocolate-laden tray of brownies (swoon). We’re hard-wired for specific flavors and tastes. How quickly our efforts for a healthy lifestyle can be derailed!
But don’t lose heart. We’re in this together. As a guest writer for Good Journey, I’m delighted to get lost in rabbit holes related to food and nutrition (so that you don’t have to). I’ll be sharing strategies for eating well, exploring research related to health and nutrition, and serving up product reviews. If you have a food-related question or a request for a product review, please share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Candice Gormley