Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aisles and Aisle of Garbage

I've had plenty of "holy shit" moments in my lifetime.

Seeing the Grand Canyon.
Running my first 10-mile race. 
Realizing I was pregnant.
Realizing I got married.
Watching the president speak live 30 feet in front of me.
Watching the smoke start to rise above the Pentagon.
Euthanizing my first cat.
Putting on a pair of single digit-sized pants at age 33. 
Watching people spin out in snow and ice on Rt. 57. 
Winning scholarship or awards.
Being dragged behind a boat after falling through the middle of an innertube and not being able to breathe for what felt like a while, but was probably just a few seconds when I was 14...

And there are things I know, but try not to think about. Like I know I should have gotten a small, hybrid car instead of my RAV-4. In comparison to other mid-sized SUVs, it's not terrible in gas. But it was a comfort choice rather than a responsible choice. I know better, but I chose differently. I'm human, and I'm a little bit stupid and selfish. 

But today, I went grocery shopping at Meijer in Urbana. I had my list with me, and I went down the list. There were only seven items out of 50 that would take me into the middle of the store. All of the rest were either fruits, meats or dairy choices. However, I'd heard about the NuVal food scoring system last month and wanted to spend some time comparing products that I normally get in the processed aisles with others. NuVal are numbers stores like Meijer post in a hexagon on the labels on the shelves that tell you the price of foods. The numbers are 1-100 and they can tell you, if you follow the serving sizes, what brands of food actually are more nutritious than others. Like which popcorn is better for me really? The 100-calorie Orville Reddenbacher or the Pop Secret? Which is better the new Multigrain Cheerios or the Original? X-man asked for granola bars... which bars give him the most goodness for his growing body?

You want to know depressing? Depressing is when you realize that all the shit in those long, continuing aisles is garbage. Junk. It's created and put out there and sold in mass production to a giant society that gets absolutely no nutritional value from what they put in their mouths. It should all be thrown away. Our stores should be the size a small house, seriously. The rest of it can fold up and go away, except the Hodges Mill Whole Wheat Couscous. It was a freaking 91/100. When blueberries are 100, 91 of anything in a box is pretty spectacular. Go whole grains! 

Goldfish -- all 1's. Syrup of any kind was a 1 (except for the Smucker's low-calorie, no sugar. It was an 11). Pop Secret was a couple points higher in value than Orville. It was 23. Blue tortilla chips rank in the 40 range in the snack aisle. Terra Sweet Potato Chips were pretty high, too. But all the normal, inexpensive snack stuff -- single digits. Quaker rice cakes -- single digits. As for Granola bars, I chose the Cascadia Farm oatmeal and raisin. They were in the 40 range. I learned that if you add chocolate chips to anything, it lowers the NuVal number greatly. The same cascadia bars with chocolate chips were a 14... 

I came home with my groceries. (I was $13 overbudget because I bought the expensive nice-to-animals meat.) MacTroll helped me unpack. I told him about my experience. He looked at what I bought and he got depressed. He asked what the difference was between the sugar-free syrup we get and the Smucker's to make it a 10 point difference. Turns out it's just less calories (i.e. more fake sugar). "It probably tastes like crap," he said.

"Then maybe we don't need syrup at all," I said. In essence, X-man does like the flavored waffles... (Strawberry Lego waffles were in the mid-twenties.) 

"You know what I hate more than the NuVal numbers?" MacTroll asked. "The stupid calorie counts on menus. It takes all the fun out of eating out." 

In addition to MacTroll traveling to states that have enforced the new federal rules about calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, I also picked up a couple of the Eat This! Not that! books. Because if you're going to eat American Gap Crap, you might as well try to choose things that won't utterly kill you. Like my Double Oh Arctic Blast (medium size) shake from Cosi (that I ate with a salad once a week when we lived in D.C.) has 2010 calories. Doh! Or that you can order two things of fried fast food and a dessert from Dairy Queen and it's the same calorie count as ONE of their medium-sized chocolate shakes. Or that there are between 30-50 ingredients that make up one Baskin Robbin's milkshake.

It's all been scientifically engineered to taste good to our brains. To bring us back to buy more. It's capitalism, which I know everyone else points to as the acme of making our civilization work, but really, it's killing us in so many ways. When we see money instead of people, how can that be humane? Except for the fact that food industry employs sooooo many people. Do you see how this is a bit insane?

That being said. I like ice cream and Diet A&W root beer. I could sit down and eat an entire box of Oats and Chocolate Fiber One bars... What is a girl to do?

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