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Eating healthy in America has become a struggle. Eating healthy in college? It’s impossible. I’m trying really hard but the lack of options, even in Boulder, leaves grease pockets in my day where the bad choices are unavoidable.
In the past 50 years changes in the American diet have made it nearly impossible to eat healthfully in our country. The homogenization of the food across nearly every cultural category combined with corporations formulating the cheapest ways to mass produce food has led to a lack of options for those looking to avoid the cheap, the quick and the greasy.
While “street food” has been around across the world for centuries, “fast food” entered the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 1951, according to a fast-food fact sheet provided by Jack-In-The-Box. Street food traditionally provides a filling meal that’s fast, cheap and readily available with a glaring difference from fast food: the freshness of the product.
Go to any other country, especially in South America, Europe or Asia, and wander city streets and all kinds of food will jump out, types of local cuisine that are made fast and fresh right in front of passersby. Whether it’s Yakitori in Japan or a late-night taco in Mexico City, options elsewhere are at least better than DP Dough, IHOP, Taco Bell, Cosmo’s, or Tra Ling’s.
That’s not to say I haven’t spent nights eagerly waiting for the delivery guy to come by—believe me, I have. But moving past the homogenization is tough because everywhere I go I see the same franchises funneling sugar and salt down the throats of Americans.
So where does that leave those looking to eat healthy?
It leaves us making our own food for nearly every meal; it leaves us with hefty grocery store receipts and refrigerators containing Tupperware filled with leftovers because the good food, the stuff with nutrients still in there, costs quite a bit more than the crap.
Twenty=five dollars for five 4-ounce pieces of salmon, $12 for four breasts of organic, no-crap-added chicken, $8.39 for enough almonds to last me for two months and a fruit bill that makes my wallet want to cry.
I’ve been on a health crusade for weeks now, trying to establish good habits and slaving away in a kitchen trying to prepare meals and teach myself how to cook. Good protein, saturated fats, minimal amounts of salt and sugar are what I’m going for. It’s rough but it’s worth it. Or it will be in the long run.
It also makes going out to eat little to no fun anymore. I have to explain myself to everyone who looks at me strangely.
“Why aren’t you eating the greasy mega-burger with the mozzarella sticks between the two patties and the bacon?”
“Come on, just order DP Dough once, it won’t kill you.”
Or will it?
As someone whose genetic makeup makes me prone to high cholesterol, heart disease and heart attacks, skipping the trips to Applebee’s and Sonic are undoubtedly good ideas.
It’s just a shame that the majority is content with being fattened by corporations without pushing back or questioning the nutritional system that has become embedded in our country and our culture. Meanwhile the minority, the health-conscious, is locked in kitchens content with their hard work and refrigerators full of Tupperware.
The healthy feed themselves and when they attempt to feed the masses with their own business ventures they sooner or later file for bankruptcy. Healthy eating in America just isn’t approachable. It all has less sugar, less salt and more green things. But who wants broccoli when there are Oreo Cakesters?
Contact CU Independent Social Media Outreach Editor Zack Shapiro at Zashapiro@colorado.edu.