It’s time for a food revolution, starting on the road at convenience stores, fast food joints and grocery chains. They need to be more accountable and begin selling more healthy on-the-go meals.
Let’s face it, we’re a fat nation. About 34 percent of adults and 17 percent of children in the U.S. are obese. New York itself has an obesity rate of 24 percent.
We all know the consequences of obesity: heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, stroke, death.
For the millions of people who made it their New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier this year, many will either stay away from the abundant fast-food options we have now or eventually succumb to the regular fare, which continues to keep many Americans fat. After all, convenient food is heavily processed and loaded with fat, carbohydrates, sugar and salt.
If the U.S. is really going to get trim, it needs the help of food suppliers, especially the ones on the front line.
While there are natural options to on-the-go eating habits — apples, bananas, celery, carrots, raw nuts, raisins, etc. — they are limited. It takes a great deal of planning and preparation to eat healthy as an American, but we don’t always have the time.
We’re a nation on the go. Commuters rely on quick, easy grub to keep on the move (“America runs on Dunkin’”). So those who really want to lose the excess weight many times give up because they have few healthy choices on the road.
We wish we could walk into a convenience store, a grocery store or a fast-food restaurant and walk out with a nutritious meal we can eat in the car or at our desk. While some food poses as healthy, these are merely token items.
Most convenience stores sell fresh fruit, milk and yogurt. Some sell salads, but they are processed in other locations. And a granola bar only goes so far. We’ll admit, some pre-made deli sandwiches have wheat bread as an option and include lettuce and tomato. But that’s not much of a healthier alternative to hamburgers, fake rib sandwiches, breakfast burritos and processed chicken patties.
What about vegetarian food? If a health food store can make fresh vegan burritos, fried tempeh sandwiches, garden and black bean salads and a variety of quick vegetarian meals, why can’t Stewart’s, Grand Union, Hannaford, Price Chopper or Walmart?
There are few stores that carry these kinds of on-the-go nutritious alternatives, mostly health food stores, but they are not always open when we need the food, such as early in the morning and late at night when people are on the go.
Try to cut out the following in your diet: cheese, processed frozen food, processed meat, salty snacks, sweets, and traditional fast food. Make it low-sodium. Make it vegetarian. Now walk into a convenience store, fast food restaurant or grocery store and look around. You won’t find much, if anything, to eat on the go, certainly not a meal.
It takes time to eat healthy, and time is something many Americans don’t have. No wonder we’re so obese. And businesses that sell us food could make it so much easier, and help us get healthier, if they only tried as hard as the health food stores.
Here’s an idea: The health food stores could contract with these other stores and offer fresh, wholesome grab-and-go food in a natural food cooler.
The same old food just doesn’t cut it anymore. When will our food suppliers realize that?
So here’s our challenge for 2012: Demand healthier food. Write letters, complain to store managers and make them change. Tell them you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore.
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