This week the spin doctors were working overtime to make Michelle Obama look like a hypocrite for eating a burger and fries, because it registered at 1700 calories!! One of her personal campaigns is to have healthier food in public school cafeterias and food programs. Who’s not for that? Back to the calories though– for some women a whole day’s intake of calories could be 2000 or around that (yes, that’s 3 meals) and the amount needed just to maintain the same weight, not to loose or gain. Gender, age, activity and some doctors think ethnicity, determine how many calories an individual should eat.
Being a vegetarian for decades now, I have had run-ins with long lost friends at the super market whose eyes sadden upon spotting meat in my cart. I don’t need to explain that my cat is on an organic food diet and eats ground turkey or that I make beef tamales and chicken mole for my brother on his birthday —but I do. I practically live like a monk, because I have lived in a certain way and people expect that from me— I expect that from me. I really don’t ram my personal rules down anyone’s throat and those of you who think I do —“you really wouldn’t want to know what goes on in my head”. Still, there are some hardships to being a role model, even if it’s by accident, like me. I would not trade places with someone in the microscopic public eye, like poor Michelle.
We all know that Boyle Heights and some other communities on the eastside are considered to be food deserts, because there are not enough super markets to supply us with nutritious and healthy foods. If you’ve ever tried to get into El Super at 6 p.m. on any day—you know what I mean. Forget about getting a healthy vegetarian choice at any of the local restaurants either. It’s all about the queso. There are many people that have poor diets in the food dessert (due to lack of availability), they are considered to be malnutrition. But, even if we live in a food desert, we can make choices that are healthy instead of giving into the “high profits and low product” American food cartels. People who use grocery coupons to make ends meet can easily fall into the pit of foods that have absolutely no nutritional value. Think about it—why would a manufacturer give you something free? Usually, it is for a new product and it reminds me of the drug dealers (in those 80s movies) that get you hooked on cheba by giving you freebies at first. Beware of those coupons.
I am glad that we are finally able to see how many calories are in that fast-food burrito or burger when we order. It makes you think twice. I was shocked to see 400 calories posted on Panda Express’ stir friend vegetables. We are talking about 3 small stalks of broccoli, a slice of carrot, less than a teaspoon of onions and a piece of zucchini squash. WTF do they put in that sauce? It does not have ginger in it anymore and tastes for nothing!
It seems that if you want to get any nutritional value out of your food, you are going to have to cook at home and hunt for foods that are not chemically laced, full of steroids or whose main ingredient is fructose sugar. You do know that the ingredients on a package of food, are in a chronological order from “what is mostly contained in product” to “what is least contained in the product”? If you see “fructose” as the first ingredient, just put it back. That is not good for you. I’m not talking about cookies or cake either—some manufacturers use sugar as a preservative on fruits and vegetables. Always read the labels—it’s all there so that you can make a wise decision on your choices.
Recently I read “The Dirty Dozen: Which Produce Has the Most Pesticide Residue?” Yet, another thing to worry about. Pesticides! The list of what has the most pesticides is shocking, it was for me anyway. At the end the article, they encourage us to eat only organically grown, like my cat, King Frankie does. It’s also a people protest movement to only eat organic, because by doing so you jam the manufacturers and farmers into producing organic food only. Hopefully they do not lobby to change the definition of “organic”. You always got to be watching those people.
Finding inexpensive organic foods is even harder when you live in a food desert. As we have mentioned many times on LAeastside, grow your own seasonal vegetables if you can. Trader Joe’s has a good selection, but the Hollywood Farmer’s Market has the best and cheapest organic food selection in town. They are going through a relocation scare right now, so stay tuned for that outcome. A friend told me that there is a small mom & pop grocer near Chevy Chase and Colorado (in the Glendale area) that has amazing deals on all organic produce. I haven’t been by, but I was told it’s in a strip mall and prominently says “Organic Produce” on its exterior sign. Batting on the Boyle Heights team are some savvy community organizers that are working on bringing some of that nutrition to us, so that we don’t have to hunt around town for it. Meanwhile . . . . . .
I highly recommend following Yolotli S. Tontiuh, a friend I met on MySpace. Remember MySpace? He is hustling vitamins and herbs—but he has a lot of nutrition info to share on his site too. He’s a good local resource.
If you have any organic resources to share—please comment, especially where to find something saludable in a food desert.