Organic food still has stigma attached to it these days, despite all its good press and the many restaurants that have menus featuring local, farmers market ingredients. It’s common for people to wrinkle their noses and describe organic products as “hippie food,” or “yuppie food.”
“Many in [America] who have access to good food and can afford it simply don’t think it’s important,” Brent Cunningham and Jane Black recently pointed out in their Washington Post article “The New Front in the Culture Wars: Food.”
Cunningham and Black point out that “Sarah Palin took cookies to a Pennsylvania school to register her disapproval or policies that forbid sweets [and] Glenn Beck suggested food-safety legislation was a government plot to raise the prices for beef and chicken and thereby turn us all into vegetarians.”
It is not just a chorus of political voices contributing to the unpopularity of organic food. The healthy advertising budgets of fast food joints play a large role in whetting consumers’ appetites for unhealthy food. You’re not going to see a Whole Foods Market ad on Superbowl Sunday but you will see a dozen ads for fast food.
And stacked on top of that is the palatability of fast and processed food. People love the way it tastes, even if they feel guilty about eating it.
“I eat fast food three to four times a week,” says Anton Cuyugan, a 31-year-old father and resident of Los Angeles, Calif. “I know it’s bad for me. But I also know it tastes good and I like it. A lot.”
Cuyugan lives in a five-mile vicinity of at least 10 farmers markets that operate year-round but he still opts for McDonalds or In-N-Out. Fast and processed foods are the most palatable, as they are loaded with excess sugar, salt, MSG, fat and carbohydrates.
And we’ve become so accustomed to these tastes that we’ve lost our appreciation for fresh vegetables, fruits and whole foods. Even the sweetest fruits taste bitter when compared to a Snickers bar. And the next time you’re at a party which bowl will likely empty first: the one holding chips or the one with vegetables?
We need to reset our taste buds. Whole, organic and unprocessed food is delicious. A fresh peach or crispy cucumber is beautiful, healthy and tasty. But they have lost their appeal in an age where people get excited about the return of the McRib.
Only 26 percent of adults have three of more servings of vegetables a day (which includes those who consider a tomato slice or lettuce on a burger as a ‘vegetable serving’), according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
George Ball sited the above statistic in his recent Wall Street Journal article “2011: The Year of the Vegetable,” in which he also says that:
“Liking vegetables is not a given: Every food other than breast milk is an acquired taste.”
Americans need to rekindle their desire for vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Farmers Markets and Community Supported Agriculture systems, not fast food restaurants, should be a major food source.
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