Saturday, December 13, 2008

Obesely Hungry

Gary said he heard on the radio yesterday that the poor people in America are disproportionately obese. The middle-class and rich are thinner. This is SO different from how it is in other countries and how it has been throughout history: the fat people were the ones who had money enough to ensure a plentiful food supply; thinness was a sign that the person didn't have enough to fill his belly.

I think this news story is intimately connected with how horribly we have stripped the nutrition from our food supply. I remember so clearly when Jenn talked about her husband coming back from his soldiering and being able to cut back on his portion-sizes. Apparently he needed to eat huge amounts of the food the army serves (food much like typical American diets) to be able to meet his nutritional needs. When he came home and was eating organic veggies and grass-fed beef and whole grains, his body was getting what it needed, and thus he wasn't as hungry.

This makes so much sense. When a body takes in food that is lacking in nutrients, the body gets the calories but is still craving the vitamins and minerals and proteins it needs. So even after we eat, we're hungry. Hunger is our body's way of signaling malnourishment.

In America, we eat white bread and white rice. Our salads are small; our vegetable servings are tiny. We put chemical fertilizers on the fields and gardens instead of cow poop. We irradiate food. We genetically alter seeds. We keep chickens cooped up in tiny boxes without letting them see the sun and scratch for bugs and stretch their legs. We fill ourselves with pop and Snapple. And then there's McDonalds and Twinkies. And have you read the labels on lunchmeat and salad dressing? The recipes online this time of year are loaded with ingredients like Cool Whip and Cheese Whiz and Jello. What are we eating? Our idea of "getting our vitamins" is to pop a pill or eat a bowl of Total cereal. It's stunning that with all this food available, with all these calories we consume, we are still malnourished. But it's true.

Problem is, those healthy foods (like fresh produce, or eggs from happy chickens) cost a lot more than what you can buy at Aldi. And then us po' folks are stuck with some hard decisions.


  1. We could eat exclusively from Aldi- except all we'd be eating was refined flour and high fructose corn syrup.

    What we could do if we actually taught people how to grow their own food in home gardens and let people keep a few animals in town...

  2. We find the opposite to be true.

    Since we started getting weekly organic produce we are actually more hungry. Dh used to eat breakfast and dinner with nothing in between, now that we are eating more produce than anything else he can't do that. I find myself snacking which used to be rare for me, I'm also starving as soon as I wake up. I figure we are actually getting less food with the produce so we need to eat more often.

  3. Kim, when you say you're eating organic produce, does that mean you've replaced your egular, canned fruits/vegs with organic? Or do you mean you're eating apples as opposed to pancakes, and green beans as opposed to eggs? Because produce does digest a whole lot faster than complex carbs and fats and proteins.

    During summer and fall, with our enrollment in Community Supported Agriculture, we had lots of produce, and we just had to keep gobbling it down, and that was okay because we had it. But I know what you mean about how it doesn't fill you up for as long. Now that I'm having to buy produce a bit at a time at the grocery store, it seems a lot more economical to be eating chili or pbjs than salads and fruits. I'm wondering how the diet change will affect how I feel.