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In times of near-apocalyptic crisis, it is natural to go into survival mode. For example, fearing the end of the world, people will go to the store in a panic and buy as much food and other household necessities as possible. In these times of COVID19’s swell, surge and spread, people are running true to expectations. We anxiously enter the grocery store. It is overcrowded with people. We check the aisles. Cookies – Gone. Ramen Soups – Gone. Deli Meats – Gone. Pancake Mix – Gone. Kids’ Cereals – Gone. Boxed Instant Meals – Gone!
This was my experience today. I saw a man’s cart which was heaped high like the other overfilled carts in the store. What caught my attention was that his cart was loaded with several frozen pizzas, hot pockets, boxes of Little Debbie Cakes, Fruity Pebbles cereal, and Ritz crackers, lunch meat, 2 30 can cases of beer, 2 bottles of wine, and a half dozen boxes of Pop Tarts. All this along with boxed mac ‘n cheese, fruit snacks, and a case of Mountain Dew. Looking at what this gentleman planned to purchase kind of took my breath away! My first thought was, ‘Is this your idea of feeding your tribe for the next 15 – 30 days?’ My second thought was, ‘Is this how your tribe eats every day, even without panic in place?’
Some people believe old maxims are trite and over-used. They do carry a certain amount of truth, however. Our entire lives we have heard “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” “You are what you eat” and “Food is medicine.” Sadly, judging by the purchasing patterns in the grocery stores these days, the value of these sayings was thrown out of the window when the panic began to rise. Need more proof? Just take a look at the produce department. It is fully stocked. Granola bars (real ones, not the disguised dessert/pastries) are also well-stocked. There are no empty shelves in the health food aisles.
You may be thinking, ‘Well we have to buy stuff that won’t rot and go to waste.’ Yes, this is true, but does that mean fruit and vegetables don’t hold up well in the freezer? Don’t whole grains and beans have long shelf lives?
Hopefully, none of these stressed-out shoppers will catch the coronavirus. However, if they do, may they be comforted by the thought that a dose of Hot Pockets or Fruity Pebbles gives a small percentage of some of the necessary vitamins and minerals. Heck, for that matter, never mind the real food you need to survive. It is not like food is medicine or anything. I mean, according to the label on the box, frozen pizza could be considered a nutritious meal for a sick person trying to recover, right?
Or, or, or…
Just maybe, in our panic, we could re-think this. We could remember those old truths about food and its connection to health and long life. We could use this time to learn and practice the lost art of preparing healthy food. Food that would nourish, sustain and help us recover. Junk food will not fit that bill. Whole foods, fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes will.
Remember. Food is medicine. Eat to live, not live to eat.