Have you been following the news about New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, putting an end to the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces in certain venues? Talk about a heated topic of conversation no matter where you live.
For many people this is a welcome ban on what has been claimed to be a leading cause in America’s obesity crisis. To others, it’s big government stepping into our personal choices. Nanny statism. You name it – they don’t like it. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
I want to talk about the real food discussion that has been sparked by this controversy.
Mark Bittman, author of Food Matters (and many other books and articles) and a well-respected activist for real food published an article in the New York Times that explores this issue in comparison to the progress we’ve made in limiting smoking and other non-food vices. These restricted substances not only harm the indulgent individual, but cost society millions in health care costs.
In the article, Mark sets out to answer the question: What is food?
Here’s what he said (but still go read the full article!):
My dictionary calls it “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.” That doesn’t help so much unless you define nutritious. Nutritious food, it says here, “provides those substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.”
Sugar-sweetened beverages don’t meet this description any more than do beer and tobacco and, for that matter, heroin, and they have more in common with these things than they do with carrots. They promote growth all right — in precisely the wrong way — and they do the opposite of promoting health and good condition. They are not food.
Now, while I truly believe that food is fuel for our body, that does not mean that it’s easy for us to live by this definition of food everyday. There’s challenges that come up on a daily basis (the ones we talk about here: time, money, skills) and don’t forget about the relationship we have with food that was introduced to us as a child.
Just like we are encouraged to make goals at school, work and in other areas of life, we have some beliefs and ideals around food in our family. We believe that food is necessary energy and we want to make healthy choices that provide our bodies with the fuel and nutrients it needs to keep us going. More importantly, I want my kids to have a healthy relationship with food, especially treats, and value the natural goodness in real food.
Do you have any beliefs or goals around food that are important to you? How do you define food?