Thursday, August 6, 2009

all fired up

IMG_4029 ok I just have to do a little rant, so please forgive me. . .

Last night I was going through Twitter like I usually do just to catch up on all the fun tweets in the world, well as many as I can lol and I came across a comment that got me, well, all fired up, and it went something like this:

Seriously, are there really people who buy steak at Walmart?

What?! You know I don’t really eat much steak, but I do shop at Walmart for things I can’t find at Trader Joe’s because it is cheaper. I’m not going to lie. Hey I would love to shop at Whole Foods, practically walking around that store gets me all giddy, but it’s pretty expensive for me if I shop there exclusively. Working with lower income individuals, steak from Walmart let alone anywhere would be special to them. You know we can get so focused on culinary creations (myself included), when there are people out there who don’t even know what they are eating tomorrow, or if they can feed their families. This comment just really offended me.

Remember my previous post about the hunger-obesity paradox? I really enjoyed seeing all your insightful comments. You guys are truly special. Thank you!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance has left a new comment on your post "hunger-obesity paradox and beer can chicken":
As for obesity, I wonder how many cases can be traced to a food-related or starved experience vs. an issue with using food to fill an emotional void. In my experience working with clients I'm finding that often, food is a 'good' substitute for love, comfort and interest in one's life.

Nicole M., MS, RD, LD has left a new comment on your post "hunger-obesity paradox and beer can chicken":
Great entry! A lot of my current patient population are food-insecure and it takes a lot of being creative. Some of my patients...if it doesn't come from WIC or the Dollar General, they can't get it. It really can make things challenging, but I've certainly learned a lot, especially to count my blessings.

It’s just so hard because many of the foods that appear to be cheaper and convenient are those that aren’t as nutritionally dense or ethically sound. When someone that doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from and they have 3 children to feed, they don’t give a crap if their food comes from Walmart. If it’s cheaper that’s all that matters. Especially in these economic times, it’s been really hard. My step dad was out of work for 20 months, my dad also got laid off with 3 young kids, and currently my fiancĂ©e is out of work and searching. It’s tough and I myself am worried right now. Economic hardship and hunger don’t discriminate, and I’m sure we’ve all seen our fair share in these times.

And I think that’s where we come in because it’s really about education. We know that it is possible to eat wholesomely on staples that are cheaper, but people have to understand how to prepare and where to acquire them. Rhetorical question: Why is it when given the choice between a box of pop-tarts and a large canister of oatmeal that will provide many meals, most will chose the pop-tarts? We are really a select few in the blog world. Yes, there are tons of food bloggers out there, but if you think about it, relative to the entire population, we are unique. While we project great nutritional information on our blogs, are we really reaching the people who need it most when most of them don’t even have access to the internet? If we keep preaching to the choir, how will we reach the entire congregation? How can we reach those that need it the most? I believe that anyone can shop at Walmart and buy steak at Walmart and still prepare healthy meals that satisfy nutritional needs and fulfill our strong connection with food culturally, spiritually and emotionally.

Yes, Walmart has not been the most ethically sound company as many extremely biased websites make clear (there are so many biased websites it’s not even funny). Using un-reliable, biased sites renders one incapable of making a sound argument. Many people can’t really shop anywhere else! Instead of alienating this population with ignorant comments, why not try to spread the word of simple nutrition and better options? And really that’s what it comes down to, foods that nourish our bodies and keep us alive, but it can also be a very strong emotional issue as well.

Walmart is what they are. It’s a company that reduces costs and has helped a lot of people make it in this recession. Their primary means of reducing cost is their inventory system, which is the most efficient in the world. They are also supporting legislation that will require employers to provide health insurance, and are looking at ways to make the products offered more environmentally sustainable. If you don’t like Walmart that’s perfectly justifiable, but you know some ‘people’ have to shop there.

So what can we really do? We really have to be creative like Nicole said above. I’m hoping that you guys can give some great insights too, because I can’t even touch the surface of this.

  • Try going to your local food bank and donate some wholesome non-perishable foods or foods that they accept and you yourself would eat.
  • I’m also going to get together several boxes of healthier snacks so when I see someone on the street that needs food I can give it to them and not just avoid eye contact because I have nothing to give. I don’t think they’ll mind one bit if any of it came from Walmart.

This topic has so many heated aspects that I cannot even begin to touch or explain and it is just so close to my heart, and the fact that anyone thinks less of another because they shop at Walmart, IS offensive to me.

---- awkward break here ----

On a lighter note, Chris and I are going camping next weekend! Since Chris is about done with summer school, we thought we’d catch one little vacation for the summer, and you can’t beat $12 /night! Here’s the campground. It looks beautiful and we are looking forward to doing some hiking and dutch oven cookin’ (you can make practically anything in these things!) We may try to rent mountain bikes too.

We’ve never actually been camping together before, but both of us practically grew up roughing it in the mountains with our dads lol We are really excited and I have of course started making the list of things to bring, but I’m sure I’ll forget something! There’s just so many things to think of. Chris’ dad and my dad have a lot of camping gear that they are going to let us borrow too so that is great. On the last night we also decided to stay at a cute B & B in Cedar City called Anniversary House. We stayed here a little while ago and just loved it and thought it would be a nice treat on the last day.

In spirit of camping, I decided to make campfire oats for breakfast with chocolate chips, marshmallows, crumbled graham cracker strawberries, and dollop of peanut butter yum! It felt like we were right by the campfire lol I’ve never tried chocolate on oats before, but seeing Angie’s awesome powerfood oats, I wanted to give it a try! pb and chocolate is my fav combo! It was really good, but very rich!


What are your thoughts on this topic? I can’t get too caught up in the internet bickerfest though because it really doesn’t go anywhere. Or if you care not to comment on this topic, any fun weekend plans??


Chow and Chatter said...

I have an award for you

Gina said...

Whoever wrote that is an idiot. Ok, it's fine if they prefer not getting their steak at Walmart, but come on, if it weren't for Walmart many people (including myself) wouldn't be able to afford weekly groceries! It would be great if we could all get the organic, hormone-free, free-range steaks at Whole Foods, but reality bites, and if it's not feasible, why not get the second best option?! What a loser.

ON a better note, it's SO SO ironic that you are going camping, as I just had a convo with Nick last night that I really want to go camping this summer! I suggested getting together with another couple and pitching a tent, it just sounds like such fun to me. So, have fun, and take pics!

Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

I think it's a myth that to eat healthy it has to be "free range, organic, and completely whole." That would be nice, but it's not possible for a lot of people.

I hear people say they can't eat healthy because it's expensive. To which I reply, why is a $3.00 bag of chips not expensive, but a $3.00 bag of apples is?

I think donating food to a food bank is a great idea, but so is gently pointing out that healthy food, per pound, may be cheaper than junk - even at Wal-Mart!

Emily said...

Really good insights, Kristen! Obviously the person who wrote that statement did so without thinking. Admittedly, Walmart would not be my first choice for purchasing meat, but I'm not going to look down on people for doing so. I agree that education is important, and I sympathize with people like the family featured in Food, Inc. To them, a fast food meal is cheap and easy and doesn't require extra prep and expense like buying separate ingredients in a grocery store.

I would love to see more attention paid to helping people start gardens and providing food pantries with healthy food options and free cooking classes.

Anonymous said...

I just watched a whole show on Bull Sh!t - a show on Showtime with Penn and Teller which debunked a lot of the "organic" food and where it actually comes from.

Sometimes organic doesn't mean "local." But I agree, if you don't know how to cook and can be creative, people will still reach for the pop tarts.

For the longest time my sister would spend $200 at the store and then not know what to make for dinner!

You know what was in her cart - bags of chips, pop tarts, pop!

Have fun camping - cooking with a dutch oven sounds like fun!

Peanut Butter Swirl said...

I saw that tweet too and it made me very upset. Not everyone can afford luxury goods. Like you said, i think the most important part is just to buy the best you can in terms of fresh produce/meats.

I am so going to have to try those oats :)

Mo said...

Have fun camping!

I'm not doing anything to exciting besides playing with my 3 week old daughter. And hopefully a few early morning walks with the pooch1 ;-)

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, I used to think that way, too. Anything other than packaged products from places like Walmart...I was a bit ambiguous. Thanks for correcting me.
But there are places where I will NEVER buy poultry/meat from. Seriously, some places...the meat just smells really off.
If Walmart sells decent edible steak that won't make me sick, I will be happy to save up some $$!! :-)

Nicole M., MS, RD, LD said...

Sorry I'm late to the game - darn work blocking blogs!

I just love your rant and couldn't agree more! What an ignorant thing to say, and even more ignorant for thinking such a thing.

You're absolutely right in saying that even a meal of steaks from *Walmart* can be made nutritious. What ever happened to people growing their own gardens and living off the fruit of the land...literally. Talk about cheap! Anyone, and I do mean anyone, can afford seeds! I'm a huge advocate for community gardens, can you tell?

Anyways, great post and thanks for keeping us informed so that we can better serve our patients!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Kristen.

If I hadn't had such a long day, I might have something more brilliant to say :)

But, I do agree with you - that was a ridiculous statement. I also see the correlation daily between poverty/food insecurity and obesity. Many of my patients/clients can tell stories of not having enough to eat as a child - sad, isn't it?

I think another thing that we as educators can continue to do, is to teach that there are inexpensive ways to eat healthy. it takes some planning and work, but it can be done.
Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

Lainie said...

Hi Kristen! Whoever wrote that is seriously dumb. I know, I'm being so mature...but seriously? What they wrote doesn't even make logical sense. Amen to you girl for speaking your mind! Loved reading your post!

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that you totally misinterpretted my blog regarding buying steak at Walmart. My point was that it is not a place you would think of to buy meat, as I have never visited a Walmart that even sold meat. Sort of like buying a bottle of wine at Home just wouldn't relate the two. As far as you saying it was not personal, I guess seeing you post my quote on your site and allowing your followers to call me "loser, idiot and ignorant..well that's pretty personal to me. The irony of this is I work with special needs children and spend much of my remaining free time working at the Salvation Army kitchen as well as Safe Haven shelter for battered women.
I would suggest next time you get the whole picture before you jump to conclusions.

kristen :) said...

Anonymous - I would also suggest not posting blunt statements like that on Twitter because it's hard to get the whole picture in the first place by the way you stated it. Plus when I first responded to you as your comment being offensive to me all you said in your response back was - 'THIS is offensive' with a link to a union website that completely degraded everything about walmart, so I was assuming you were referring to the audacity of shopping for meat at walmart due to it's ethical implications not just the fact that you've never seen them sell meat there. I would have liked a reasonable explanation in the first place and not a back lash like that.

kristen :) said...

also I'm sorry that this has gotten out of hand, and that's great that you help others, but you have to realize that when you make a blunt statement like that there is going to be someone to say something.

If you were surprised by the fact that walmart sells meat, you could have stated on Twitter - 'wow, I didn't know that walmart sells meat' or 'I've never seen meat at walmart before' and not send a degrading e-mail that had nothing to do with your explanation just now.

Julie said...

There ain't nothin wrong with steak from Walmart. hey! that person should know it's probably the same steak they're eating, just at a cheaper price. so YOU win! great post girl

Thinspired said...

Hi Kristen,
Well, wow! Lots of action going on here ;) I can see how you interpreted that statement and, giving the information you had, I think this is a very well-written, fair, informed post. If you did mis-understand, I can see how that would be easily done given the information presented. I hope this didn't ruin your day or anything!
As for steak at Wal Mart, I have no strong feelings, really. I try not to judge people about what they eat, and especially when it comes to is so personal and so difficult in this economy that I like to believe everyone is doing the best they can for themselves and their families. That means something different to everyone!
Hope you had a nice weekend, Kristen!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

Rock on lady! I think in the blog world we are in a bubble...I mean, clearly we all have time and a computer and these are luxuries that not everyone has.

I do my best to eat a certain way but some people do their best to simply eat. I do think this issue goes back to corn and sugar subsidies and why the HECK is fast/processed food food allowed to be made artificially cheap by the government??

Astra Libris said...

THANK YOU for this important post!! I was "ranting" right along with you as I read! :-) (I quite agree with you, btw - I do think we have a ton in common! :-) I always love reading your insightful posts...) You're so right that we "healthy bloggers" are a rare and important few - health-conscious bloggers are spreading knowledge and enthusiasm about healthy eating, which is, sadly, still so lacking for most people... The hospital where I work as a nurse is in a very rural, low income county, where many of my patients struggle with issues arising from and exacerbated by their nutritionally lacking diets - diabetes, heart conditions, etc, etc. Sadly, so many aren't aware of the healthful and economical food options tucked away within stores just like WalMart, and the tweet by which you were so rightfully offended simply increases the gulf between those who can easily afford to shop at stores where healthful options are more prominent and easy to find, and those struggling for lack of resources and information.

Personally, I have at times, because of lack of funds, subsisted entirely on beans, brown rice, bananas, and lots of collard greens/kale/turnip greens, and while my diet might have been lacking in nutritional variety, these foods were still nutrient dense, provided me with the lean protein and fiber I needed, and I was grateful for them - and most of the time, I'm not ashamed to say, they came from Wal-Mart! :-)

Thank you for gently reminding anyone who might echo the sentiments of the tweet you highlighted that access to nourishment is a blessing, a glorious blessing, to celebrate every day, at every grocery store!

Astra Libris said...

Just wanted to come back and say thank YOU for your incredibly kind comment... You brought tears to my eyes (good ones! :-) with your kind words! Thank you for making my day! *hugs* :-)

I can't wait to hear more about the camping trip!! Sounds incredible - especially the Dutch oven cooking! :-)