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Monday, May 3, 2010

A tale of two breakfasts...


So this morning before work, I happened to notice two groups of people approaching breakfast in a DISTINCTLY different way...The first were two very large women (full disclosure: I assume they were fat tourists from the south) eating two VERY VERY large muffins on the street corner near Columbus Circle. Now I am not skinny nor do I find myself particularly judgemental- at least not for a Manhattanite- but all I could think was: Put the muffin down and WALK to wherever you're going!!

For anyone who has seen Supersize Me or tunes into Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution knows that obesity is probably the country's biggest problem. From diabetes, to heart disease, high blood pressure, low self-esteem, etc. etc. many people in America are literally eating themselves into an early grave.

Then just a few blocks closer to my apartment, I stopped into my beloved Stile's Farmer's Market and was waiting in line behind a man with three young children and a basket overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies. They didn't speak English and as he went to pay, I noticed him pull out a food stamps card. This really struck me, particularly after seeing Food, Inc. earlier this year. A lot of literature about the obesity/diabetes epidemic shows you how much more expensive it is to eat healthily. For instance, the two "large ladies" I saw probably bought their muffins for $3 each at Starbucks, but they COULD have bought 2 dozen muffins for $10 at Sam's Club or a similar store. At a typical supermarket, however, fresh strawberries cost $5 or more a pound and a pound of lean shaved turkey breast can cost anywhere from $6-12. This immigrant man clearly made an effort to seek out affordable HEALTHY food for his family whereas two seemingly affluent American tourists shoved 700+ worhless calories of muffin into their bodies before 8am!

Stile's Farmer's Market is a TRUE treasure in NYC. Sure, their stuff isn't organic, but I can get gorgeous red peppers for $1.99/lb and mangos 2 for $1. I eat a LOT of produce and am EXTREMELY frugal, so this place is like my heaven on earth. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they accept food stamps since I was under the impression that you can't get healthy food without spending an arm and a leg.

Maybe that's not true at all. Maybe there's tons of farmer's markets and grocery stores offering fresh fruits and veggies at a decent price, or even for free via food stamps/WIC. Sure, limiting junk food in school cafeterias and advertising the number of calories in chain restaurants (wait, do they only do that in NYC) helps, but maybe people just don't give a shit about their health and would rather pound double cheeseburgers than not die of a heart attack.

I'm no food nazi, but I do know a thing or two about nutrition (I was a vegan for eight months and subscribe to Martha Stewart's Body & Soul. Oh, and I am OBSESSED with Dr. Oz) and this is definitely an issue I'll bring up again. I'd love to know what other people think. Clearly I know that obesity has a significant genetic link, but eating healthy is really such an EASY way to improve your life and health. Why fill your body with junk that makes you feel sluggish, look doughy (or worse), and may even shorten your life??

This is a great blog on this issue...