Cheese, I don’t Need You

Goodlifer: Cheese, I don't Need You

On a usual Friday night after work, I would stop by Murray’s Cheese in Grand Central Station, pick up a few different wedges and a baguette at the bread shop. A cheese platter and red wine often became dinner that night. Then, I began to feel a bit cheesed out, but still kept doing my Friday ritual, because it seemed like a nice habit. The relationship was starting to get a bit one-sided, Cheese no longer gave me the satisfaction it used to. So, I decided it was time to break up.

The cravings that plague us here in the first world and make us fat are remnants of how our caveman selves were hardwired to eat a lot of those foods that were hard for them to come by, mainly fats, sugars and salts. The cavemen (and women) were fine, because even though they may have occasionally gorged on mammoth steaks and sugary fruits, those times were few and far between. We still have those urges, except all we have to do now to have a gorgefest is go to the nearest restaurant or supermarket and swipe our plastic card.

The processed food conglomerates have made billions by figuring out clever ways to game our caveman systems, by appealing to our insatiable appetite for fats, sugars and salts. As a result of this deceptive food science, their profits went up and up and our collective health took a nose dive. Food-related illnesses are by far the main cause of death in this country, and we’re not talking starvation, we’re slowly eating ourselves to death. All this even though we know that what is good for us is to eat a balanced diet of fruits, grains and vegetables, with a limited amount of animal protein. We’re being tricked and deceived into our own demise. Never before has processed food, fast food and advertising for them been so prevalent in a society. We cannot walk down the street, open a newspaper or turn on the TV without seeing a commercial for something that is bad for you but made to look so very appealing that you have to run out and get it right then and there.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like being tricked. What sets humans apart from other animals is our ability to reason, yet many choose to not apply that reasoning power to their food choices. Other caveman behaviors are not tolerated in society, so why should food be an exception?

At meetings with my corporate green workplace initiative, I have tried to get everyone (anyone) to pay attention to the food that is served in the cafeteria (where every day seems like a meat and fried foods fest). People get noticeably uncomfortable and make an effort to get off the topic quickly. “You can’t mess with what people eat,” they tell me. Well, why not? If the way people eat stand in the way of personal health and the planet’s survival, isn’t it time for some regulation? Similarly, the proposed sugar tax (an 18% tax on non-diet soda) met large resistance in the Legislature (although supported by New York City’s health commissioner Thomas R. Frieden) while lawmakers raised the price of a pack of cigarettes in NY to over $10. Smoking is very bad for you, yes, but so are processed artificial foods. Smoking bans in workplaces, restaurants and on subway platforms were met with enormous resistance by smokers when first initiated. Now, no smoking in public has become the norm. People do not like change, but humans are incredibly adaptable, a few years from now people will hopefully scoff at how we allowed soda machines and fast food outlets in schools the same way we today cannot believe that airplane seats all had little ashtrays in the armrests.

I want to be in control of my food consumption, and will not allow myself to get deceived by food scientists, marketers, empty health claims (sugary cereal fortified with Omega 3’s?) or nice packaging. When you live and eat well, those small indulgences become so much more satisfying. Cheese, I’m with Vegan for a few weeks, but maybe soon we can have a noncommittal casual relationship?

Read David Kessler’s The End of Overeating to understand and take control over your “Insatiable American Appetite”.

Top photo by Zeetz Jones, Creative Commons.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).

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