Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ne me Supersizez pas!

Last night, Dr. B and I watched a movie on the B family small screen (his laptop), after a lovely french dinner of Mogettes de Vendée (a dish of white beans, carrots, lardons, and garlic) with 2 small pieces of multigrain toast, a little cheese, and one Danish butter cookie each. We had some beer from an Abbey in the north of France to go with it--a very delicious and comforting meal for a cold, dreary winter night.

Then we put on the video.

Supersize Me.


15 minutes in I was feeling nauseous. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a rental. Basically, a very healthy guy spends one month eating only McDonald's food to see what happens to him, and he nearly kills himself in doing so. It is a documentary--not a work of fiction by a horror novelist, though it could have been.

I could go on and on about how healthy I eat, but that would just bore you. Let's just say I'm not a fry fan, and frankly would rather eat 9 cups of raw broccoli (and suffer the consequences) than one Big Mac. (In fact, I've never eaten a Big Mac. And I don't plan to. Ever.)

But this movie really got me thinking. What's going to happen when we move back to the States?

Here in France, fresh food is the least expensive thing. Though everything else is much more expensive than in the US, our grocery bills have not been out of this world, and the quality of the food is so much higher than back home. I don't have to be an obsessive label-reader, because French law prohibits the use of many of the food additives that I worked so hard to avoid. The stores are smaller, and stock smaller amounts, and therefore it is gone through more often--thus no need for lots of preservatives, added sugar, salt, and chemicals. We still find bugs on our lettuce, even when bought at the supermarket. And no one complains--it's lettuce. It grows in dirt. There are bugs in dirt. Duh?!?!

Although I am eating things I would never allow myself to eat regularly back home, like chocolate, croissants, lots of full-fat cheeses, I have not gained a pound, and all my clothes fit fine. Yes, I am walking a lot more, which does help, but here I don't have to deny myself pleasure in food. What a wonderful thing!

Wait a minute...isn't that the way it used to be?

You hear about it a lot in the media now, how American diets have changed over the years. The pressure by the food lobbyists, the pressure to succeed by the restaurants and food companies. Portion sizes are way out of control, everyone is on a diet, and we are still getting bigger and bigger. It has become a macho thing to eat mass quantites--if you can eat the 36 oz. ribeye, you win a T-shirt! (Note: these shirts come in size XL and XXL only.)

In the US, Dr. B and I often split a meal at a restaurant, because there is enough food for 2 or 3 people. Food has so much added sugar, salt, fat, and chemicals, that it keeps on your shelves, in your fridge or freezer for months. That's just scary!

I don't want food that has a shelf-life of months.

I don't want 36 oz. of meat. In one meal. (Maybe in a week?)

I don't want added colors, sugar, salt, chemicals.

I don't want powdered cheez food.

I want control of my life back!

Moving back to the US is starting to scare me--where will we find food that we can afford that is of high quality, and isn't pumped with hormones, pesticides and chemicals designed to make us want to eat more and thus spend more on cheap food that is not good for us? We aren't millionaires--we can't afford to buy organic at the store every time, and the hunt for meat that hasn't been pumped full of hormones and bred to have genetic oddities is time-consuming and very pricey.

Where will I find the time? The money? The energy?

What are we going to do?



At 4:38 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger afoos said...

Actually, obesity rates in children are going way up in France...

Supersize me is a very good movie, I especially like that he provided counterarguments (like the guy who eats a Big Mac every day and who is thin and relatively healthy) rather than sticking to one side. McDonalds and any other fast food is definitely not the healthiest thing for your body, but once in awhile Etienne and I like to go out for a McDo meal, and we often go there just for ice cream, we love their McFlurrys, and they are half the price of Hagen Daas (and healthier too, made with frozen yogurt!)

At 5:37 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger La Rêveuse said...

"Actually, obesity rates in children are going way up in France..."

I know, sad, isn't it, how France is picking up some of the nastier American habits.

I used to work at McDo--I know the menu pretty well. I also saw the food being prepared, and saw the rolling cart with the solid, white fat they would cook the fries in--a huge brick the size of the average oven. But, when I worked there, there were only a very few things I would order: fajitas with extra veggies (the cooks liked me and stuffed them really full of veg!), side salads (I use the tiniest amount possible of the dressing, and toss the croutons), and diet soda. (This was before they had bottled water.) The milk, I found, always had a "fridgey" taste--yuck. :( Probably because so few people order it.

I guess being raised on a farm with a big garden, and having a stay-at-home mom who cooked square meals from the garden (and canned and preserved for us to eat all winter), and gave us frozen peas as a snack, set my tastes early. I don't like fast food--and rarely eat it.

As for the McFlurrys--you can have them. 628 calories, 81 grams of sugar and 23 grams of fat for a 12 oz. (My guess is that's the small size.) No thanks. I'd rather tie my arteries off with twist ties than do that to my body.

I have enough to worry about--my Grandfather has had 5 open heart surgeries, and he never eats fast food. I only get one body--I have to make the best of it. I am not going to gamble on being the lucky person who can eat Big Macs every day (note: he never ate the fries.) Life is too precious.

At 7:17 AM, December 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life is short too. If you spend all your days worrying about what you eat, what fun is that? Most of the people I know do everything in food only once in a blue moon......lots of fresh fruit and veggies, lean meat and fish and LOTS of walking. I swear it is the walking and work outs that keep the scale from creeping up!!

At 8:44 AM, December 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have spent the vast majority of your life in America; you will do just fine when you come back here. With two good incomes, you'll be able to afford fresh veggies. And if you can't get everything you had in France, you'll be happier when you do get a special treat. You will take your cooking tips you learned in France and adapt them to America and American grocery stores. Supersize Me is a good movie, and is a great eye opener to those who do eat fast food on almost a daily basis.

At 9:33 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hi Mrs. B !

If Amerloque were going back to the USA, he, too, would be extremely worried about the food situation … he is pretty sure that you have heard about Community Supported Agriculture, a concept that caught on in the USA quite some time ago but which is just now entering France …

/*/In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Members or shareholders of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land. Members also share in risks, including poor harvest due to unfavorable weather or pests. — USDA definition/*/

Sounds just the ticket for obtaining natural food at reasonable prices even in a big city, no ? There is quite a bit of info on the internet, including names and addresses for each state …

If you've tried this scheme out, Amerloque would love to hear more !


At 4:36 PM, December 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...sad, isn't it, how France is picking up some of the nastier American habits." Last time I checked, the French very definitely have minds of their own! They let you know daily! I think they are adults who can make their own choices in go to McDo's or not, eat the food or not. Do we now take responsibilty for them acquiring "nasty" eating habits??

At 5:20 PM, December 15, 2005, Blogger La Rêveuse said...

First of all, we were talking about kids, not adults, and not french adults. Even if we were, I do find it sad that American culture is taking over the world. The loss is very unfortunate. There are so many wonderful differences in cultures, yet it seems the goal of the big corporations (and many to most are American) is to create a homogeneous culture that does what they want us to do, so that they make money.

The fact is that American corporations pump billions of dollars into studies on how to make you want their product--which includes people in other countries than the US. We are bombarded by advertising, subliminal messages, chemicals in the food (designed to create addictions)--I don't think it's fair, and it sure does make choice hard for some people. Not everyone is equipped to make choices that go against the grain. If it's a choice between something that's right and something that's easy, well, people often go with that which is easy.

Some of us are willing to go against the grain. Some are not. This is the same in America as it is in France as it is everywhere in the world. Some will fight to retain their cultural heritage, while others will go with what's easy or what's "cool." We all have a choice, but that choice can be difficult to make when the powers that be have worked so hard and spent so much to get us to believe that they are on our side.

I chose to go against what the American corporations are telling me, when I believe that what they are trying to sell me is unhealthy or unnecessary. I choose to eat whole foods and make smart choices, as often as I can. I choose to be educated about issues relating to things that I eat. I will choose to teach these values to my children.

Because I only have one life, and I am trying to live it as best as I possibly can.

At 3:02 AM, December 16, 2005, Anonymous Clems said...

Merci pour ton mail très sympa.
Tu peux trouver les petits boutons Paname Ensemble à cette adresse :

Pour toi sur la ligne 5, le lien sur le bouton sera :

Merci A+

At 2:43 AM, December 17, 2005, Anonymous Clems said...

Merci pour la petite ban.
Pour info, nous allons sortir une version anglophone de Paname Ensemble en janvier 2006. Vous nous direz ce que vous en pensez

At 3:21 PM, December 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Supersize Me movie was a little over the top. Try eating only carrots or lettuce every meal for a month and let's see if you wouldn't be close to death at the end of 30 days. And by comparison we could we say at the end of 30 days that carrots are bad for you? I don't eat fast food either but I agree with the poster above anything in moderation is ok. To me being overly obsessive about food is an excess in itself. Although I must admit I am a little like that myself except with strenuous exercise as opposed to food. I believe that everyone who can should run at least thirty miles a week at a moderately fast pace, say 8 minutes per mile. I know too many people who are thin from eating well but are not fit. Fitness, in my opinion, comes with strenuous exercise. But there I go with my obsessiveness about strenous exercise.

Good luck in France. I happen also to be obsessed with the french language. Unfortunately I can't live in France I can only visit from time to time from the USA.


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