“American children now get about one quarter of their total vegetable servings in the form of potato chips and French fries.” – Fast Food Nation
I am not going to sit on the other side of this computer and pretend I don’t like French fries and cheeseburgers because that would be one big, fat lie. And I don’t like to lie. Something else about me… if I see a group of people moving in one particular direction; I tend to start backing up and heading the other way. I don’t know what it is about groupthink that puts up my antenna but it does every time. Wikipedia makes it clear with their definition – “Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.”
I can’t help but apply groupthink to American food norms. Somewhere we went terribly wrong and no one stopped to ask, “Why?” Why do so many of our children not eat fresh vegetables and fruit? Why do our kids prefer hot dogs and chicken nuggets to homemade nutritious food? Why do so many parents struggle to feed their children food that isn’t made primarily of sugar? Are they dealing with this in Japan, France, Albania, or Kenya? If not, why? When did an occasional cheeseburger and fries turn into a weekly or daily meal? My questions could go on and on. But I will save you the time and get straight to the point. American culture food norms are making our children sick and I am not going to pretend that they are not. I am not going to wait for others to jump on board. I am going to act now.
How do I fight back? How do I hold companies accountable for their deplorable behavior? And how do I hold myself accountable for my children’s health?
I vote with my fork.
If we spend money according to our values and we value health then I deduct we should spend money on food that nourishes our health rather than destroys it. I am not going to pay a company for a product that I feel is harmful. I would rather give my money to a small, local farmer or to a company that values sustainable farming practices and nutritious food.
I found my tribe.
I have found friends who share the same values as myself. We support each other in person or over the phone when we come against school systems and the like, who don’t share our values. It can be difficult for people to understand why you make the choices you do when you are part of the minority. My tribe knows my passion, supports my efforts and encourages me to move forward against what feels like a daily barrage of situations filled with sugar, snacks, fast food, processed food and hurt feelings. In turn, I support them equally.
I make my own food.
I take control by rarely eating out. I take control by making most of my food from scratch. I nearly eliminate additives, chemicals, and preservatives from my family’s diet by not allowing the big food companies into my home.
I educate myself continually on my choices.
I read and read and then read a little more almost every book or article I can get my hands on about food, food companies, health, nutrition, farming and, of course, children and mental health. I do this because it is my passion. And I do this because I believe in responsibility for one’s own self. I don’t expect a company to look out for my family’s best interest. I don’t expect someone else to do the work for me. I don’t expect anyone to be responsible for my family’s health and happiness except for me. I find strength in educating myself when I come up against “the norms.”
Today’s take-away: The more I advocate for myself and my family with the food choices I make on a daily basis; the stronger I feel in fighting against the American norm. It is not my job to convince you what is best for your family. It is my job to let you know what I am doing for mine and if you happen to agree, please know you have found your tribe in me.