Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We Live in a Sick Society , Part 1

I went to a lot of schools as a kid. Around a dozen different elementary schools, a couple of middles/junior high, but fortunately, only one high school.
In all that time, I never once met a child with a severe allergy. You know, the "if little Billy eats one peanut he will die" allergy. Only one child in elementary school died. She was in a car wreck.
In high school, I knew perhaps 2 kids that died. Both accidents.
Also, in all those years, besides not knowing anyone with an allergy, I also only met precisely one child that had diabetes and that was in high school.Never met a kid with cancer in any of those schools, either. There was no such thing as ADHD, ADD, hyperactivity, etc.
Similarly, I knew a lot of older adults growing up. I knew ONE adult with diabetes. She still bought a box of Girl Scout cookies from me, though. Shortbread trefoils. Said her dog liked them.
I lost all my grandparents by the time I was 21. Two to cancer, two to heart attacks. None of them were young and while they were alive, all of them lived active lives and were not plagued with myriad physical ailments. (Well, except for my paternal grandmother...if you asked "How are you? she would start with her gallbladder operation in 1957 and work her way up from there. She died while  in her 90s.)

Now, go turn on a t.v. for an hour or read a medical page online or open a newspaper.
Ads for medications for ailments that were unheard of 40 or 50 years ago. "Cancer clusters" in various areas of the country. One out of four boys being medicated for "ADD" or "ADHD". Advertisements for diabetes meters and test strips, advertisements for drugs for eczema, psoriasis, heartburn, nail fungus, arthritis, etc. All, of course with the warnings spoken sotto voce (or written in very fine print) about the side effects...some of them potentially fatal.

How did we get here? What happened?
How did America get from a healthy, vibrant society to a sickly, medicated, sick one?
I put part of the blame on food, another part of it on Womens Lib and the feminist movement, and the rest on corporate America and the medical profession.
Let me break that down:
1) We don't eat healthy. We (as a society) have become dependent on highly processed food, microwave meals, fast foods, etc. We expect a "quick fix" for everything. Spend two hours preparing lasagna from scratch? NO WAY! Just pop some frozen lasagna in the microwave and TA-DA, dinner is served! Ever read the ingredients on that package of frozen lasagna? Let's put it this way, if you can't buy each of those ingredients off the shelf at your grocers, or grow them yourselves, you shouldn't be eating them!
Fast food? How about TOXIC food? I have worked at all of the major fast food places in the US, and frankly, I will not eat at any of them. I know what goes in their food. I have even worked at a cattle ranch that was under contract to one of the major fast food places...and I know the hormones and other chemicals that go into those cattle.
We also eat WAY too much meat. Meat consumption in this country is absolutely at ridiculous levels.
I love a good steak as much as the next person, but we should take a cue from Thomas Jefferson who  advised using meat as a condiment. We eat a lot of curries, soups, stews and stir-fries here. I can stretch a half pound of meat (before cooking) to fix a hearty satisfying meal for five people! We also eat "dinner salads" some nights or I use eggs as a base for a meal, making an omelet or souffle.
Sugar consumption of highly refined white sugars and High Fructose Corn Syrup is also WAY too high.
When I was a kid, an orange, some grapes or a banana was a "treat". Apple cider, apple juice, orange juice or a cold glass of milk was a beverage at the table. Kool-Aid once or twice a week in summer. Now kids stuff themselves with candy bars, chips and sodas. Parents excuse buying it by saying "But Billy/Susie won't drink anything else!" Oh, yes they will! We are cutting our soda consumption drastically here. First we cut it down to half of what we normally drank (which was WAY too much). Then we cut it in half again. Next week we will be getting a Soda Stream and will no longer buy ANY sodas. We'll flavor our drinks with spices and fruit juices and sweeten them with raw sugar or honey.
Our portion sizes are WAY too big. Go into any restaurant and order a meal. The amount of food they pile on a plate is astounding. Even at home, most of us have gotten used to huge portion sizes. We need to cut down on the size of our portions. I started using a dessert plate as my dinner plate. It fools the eye and makes you feel as if you have eaten more than you thought.

2) On to the Feminist/Womens Lib movement. Look, I believe women can and should do whatever they want in today's world. But I think it has gotten too extreme. Watch commercials...happy kids and moms at McDonalds. Happy family at Chuckie Cheese's. Happy kids and husband wolfing down moms choice of frozen dinner.
Yes, women got out of the kitchen...and nutrition for their families took a nosedive.
The last 20 to 30 years has seen a brainwashing of society in this country. We have been told that daycare is just as good as a mothers care, that fast food is a great replacement for a home cooked meal, that frozen foods ARE a home cooked meal, etc. They haven't told us about all the communicable diseases young children pick up in daycare from the other kids and caregivers. They haven't (until recently) warned us about all the fats and sugars in fast food and frozen dinners.
Women were told that what their mothers had done was "not enough" but now, women could "have it all".
Yes, as the song said "She could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget you're the man". But that's not how it actually happened. A hot breakfast, lovingly cooked by Mom?
Nope, cold cereal it is, maybe a Pop-tart or two. No home packed lunch. School lunch would be fine. Dinner? Mom is exhausted so she stops and grabs a bucket of KFC and a couple of 6 packs of sodas.
I know, I was there once myself. I worked, not to "fulfill" myself but to support my kids.  I didn't enjoy working outside the home, but it was a necessity. I always tried to fix dinner for them, I am glad I did that, at least.
I know a lot of working moms that read this may be pissed at me right now. That's okay, I really don't mind.
I would ask those of you that are married and/or have a partner that works to figure out something.
Do you PAY to work?
Add up each of your work expenses separately. Include clothes you have to buy for work, commuting costs, eating lunch out (if you do), paying for daycare or a babysitter. Every single cost. By the way, both you and your spouse should add in the daycare/babysitter costs on both your work expense costs. I'll explain why in a minute. Now, when you get done, subtract that amount from your TAKE HOME  pay.
If you are in the red, i.e., bringing home less than you are spending for your need to quit your job. Otherwise, see who actually brings home the most and figure out if you can make it on their salary alone if you have kids that would benefit by having a stay at home parent. If you BOTH have to work to make ends meet, that is understandable in today's economy. Just come up with sensible guideline for your diet and your kids diets.
Now, I know that some women out there have their jobs because they have a passion for their work, and that is wonderful. But, please, try to do it without cheating your child (or yourself!) of proper nutrition. No fast food or frozen dinners...plan ahead and maybe involve your kids in helping you make meals for the week on the weekend and have frozen meals that really are home made!
Keep your fridge stocked with snacks that you WANT your children to eat. Fresh fruit, carrot sticks, celery sticks, etc. A good idea is to get small tupperware type containers and fill each with snacking yummies that are easy for kids to make their own little snacks out of.  Similarly, you can use the small containers for dry, non-refrigerated snacks and designate a "snack cabinet" . Make good choices there, too. Dried apple slices, raisins or other dried fruit.You don't have to buy all "health foods", but try to give children better choices.

If you are on your own and have no kids and only cook for yourself, maybe make healthy cooking a hobby! Spend a Sunday afternoon teaching yourself to bake whole grain bread from scratch...then use that bread to make sandwiches for your lunches during the week. Invest in a crock pot if you don't have one and start a nice stew or soup before you leave for work in the morning...arrive home to a wonderful home made dinner!
Eat more salads. There is some evidence that shows a raw diet can slow or even reverse diabetes and other obesity related illnesses.

Tomorrow, Corporate America, Corporate Agriculture and the poisoning of America....


  1. Very good post. We have cut down on fast food, mostly to save money. We do feel better not as much grease. Today I was with my oldest daughter and we had to eat lunch out. We stopped at Subway, no grease.

    1. Subway is usually our choice, too, if we have to eat out on the road. It actually turns my stomach to eat a McDonalds burger or a taco at Taco Bell. I can literally taste the chemicals in them now...and they make me (again literally) sick! Too much fat and grease!

  2. Very well said; I would add that in yesteryear (when my parents, now in their eighties, were young) people doctored themselves at home, active boys were sent outside to play, and children were taught to respect and obey their elders. When my mother took care of her older brother dying of cancer, she asked his oncologist if and why cancer was on the rise (early 80's). He told her that he believed it was because of all the chemicals our bodies are exposed to. Laundry products, air fresheners, stuff in foods, plastics and synthetics all around us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are spot on.

    1. Rozy Lass, I am going to address chemicals, plastics, etc. tomorrow.

  3. DH & I try to live as frugally as we can, not only because we don't believe in debt, because honestly, we have to with living on only his wages. But we knew that when we decided to have a child that there was no job that could pay enough for me to be out of the home away from our child. The hardest part of living beneath our means is not the fact that we choose to be frugal, but the criticism from friends and even family, although most of it is said under their breath or "jokingly", although you can tell they aren't really joking.

    Why is being a stay at home mom viewed so poorly? Isn't taking care of your home and child(ren) THE most important job? Why is it looked upon as drudgery or menial work? I don't understand, although I agree with your observations of the probable causes.

    That, and the whole idea of REAL food. I'm made fun of because I drink goat milk (oh, the horror), get my eggs out in the barn, bake bread from home-ground wheat, etc., etc, etc. Why do that when you can just go to the grocery store?? And they truly BELIEVE that the grocery store crap is superior to our homegrown stuff. With their entire being, they have been brainwashed into thinking nothing of eating processed foods for breakfast, lunch & dinner 365 days a year.

    Sorry for the rant, but I've been thinking along the same lines lately and it's getting me depressed :(

    1. Carolyn Renee, I HEAR YOU! When one of the teens here told a teacher at their school that we ate the eggs our chickens laid, her reaction was "EWWWWWWWW! Why don't you just buy them at a grocery store?"
      This was a TEACHER! It just boggles my mind that so many people have believed the BS shoved down their throats for so many years by ads and such.

  4. Just found your blog. Awesome post! I agree 100%. I have been baking our bread every week for about six months. I bake from scratch always. No fast food, no box mixes. We grow some of our own fruits and veggies. We live in a big city and I work full time. But, kids are grown and gone. I loved being home with them when they were here. I cut our hair myself and I sew a lot of my clothes. I am learning how to can. We wish we had more land but this is where the Lord has us so we are blooming where we have been planted.

  5. I would ditch the Tupperware. A fun and healthier alternative is to puruse antique shops for the glass Corningware containers from the '60's. Holds the flavor of foods much better. Bravo on the blog!

  6. Ok Lamb, I'm totally calling you out for the swipe against Womens Lib.
    Acknowledging women's right to pursue work outside of the home does NOT correlate to an improperly fed family.
    If the family is being improperly fed, that is a failure of the adult partnership as a whole, not the fault of the woman alone.
    I refuse to accept that men are incapable of reading and following recipes, I refuse to accept that they are any less capable of managing children's nutrition or weekly menus or baking.
    I know this because I work outside of the home, and yet my family eats home-grown and home-cooked meals more often than not. This is not rocket science, it's very simple. When I'm the one working, hubby cooks and cleans. When I'm nursing a baby, hubby goes to work and I cook and clean. We've swapped duties twice in our 3 year marriage and will again in 5 weeks when boy #2 joins us.
    Women's Lib didn't mean Everyone-abandon-housework. It means that housework is equal opportunity, just like employment for wages.
    Demand a true partnership women, I'm a big fan of the single income and a stay-at-home arrangement, but there's no rational reason why the SAH has to be the distaff gender by default.

    1. Jennie, I have no issues with actual equality between the genders, what I have a problem with is the SIDE EFFECTS the Women's Lib movement produced.
      First and foremost among the side effects was the devaluing of women that CHOSE to stay at home.
      I know...I graduated high school in 1974. I had my first child around 11 months later. I stayed at home at first, but felt VERY pressured to go back to work. If we went out to a party and someone learned I was a mom, their next question was "But what do you DO?"
      Look, I marched in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment way back then. I attended protests with a baby strapped in her baby carrier on my chest.
      In the mid to late 70s and early 80s the societal pressure was friggin' ENORMOUS. Stay at home moms were viewed as lazy do-nothings. The "working moms" in my neighborhood would call me "Since you don't do anything, would it be okay if Billy comes over after school? I have to work late. Thanks!" Or, a teacher would call, "Since you don't work, I signed you up to be Room Mother!" And on and on it went...
      Even now, although I milk a small herd of goats (and process said milk into different products), have chickens and other fowl, take care of the house and have two teens to watch over (they can be worse than toddlers! ACK!), I still get the same thing once in a while. Drives me more than a little crazy some days!
      As far as men being just as competent at household chores and nurturing children...yes, that is true, BUT for the majority of women, it really doesn't work out that way. Count yourself lucky! The majority...VAST majority of women, especially those of my generation, had to contend with "You've Come a Long Way, Baby!" and the societal opinion that the woman had to work PLUS do all the housework and cooking and provide care for the kids.
      I agree that more men could and should be the stay at home parent and I am happy to see it is changing.


Because of a couple of rude people that left comments that included links to porn pages and such, I have been forced to start moderating comments again.