While most people in DC, and around the country actually, are talking about how newspapers are dead, I regularly enjoy mine. In fact, since I have a new hate for television, I almost always finish the entire Washington Post everyday. The best sections are always the food and the health section. I know you're shocked to hear that I like to read about food and fitness. You can read them online, too.
This week was full of great articles too. These go straight to the heart of why I take so much care in what I eat. Honestly, its not because I'm a superior yuppy who thinks organics are super duper. The reason I make the effort to eat things that are of high quality is because it makes me feel better and saves me money in the long run.
Lets start with the feeling part. Everybody likes to eat a giant piece of cake/bowl of ice cream/tasty treat/Big Mac but no one enjoys the after math - the food coma. Now, personally, my body has never tolerated preservatives very well. I was able to ignore it for years but after a while it became a waste of time to eat what was easy when I could make just a little more effort and feel way more awesome-r (What? I'm not a doctor, yo.)
You're thinking, huzzah, I have no trouble with preservatives so whatever, you crazy farmer's market lady! Well, actually, you probably don't have trouble with them but they are still doing awful things to your body and are a waste of calories. The food coma feeling may not be noticeable when you eat a Lean Cuisine but the reason you get the food coma from the Big Mac also applies to said Lean Cuisine albeit in smaller doses. So, while I'm no Doctor, reasons why junk food, and even normal food bought at the grocery store and cooked at home can be bad:
"When you give antibiotics to animals meant to become food . . . you're ensuring that antibiotics end up in the food in low but constant doses. That means bacteria are getting more accustomed to the antibiotics. There's good reason to think that this background exposure to antibiotics is contributing to the startling rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria." (from here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091500736.html)
So basically, you buy an otherwise normal steak at the grocery store and while its not dusted with penicillin its technically full of it. In fact:
"Food animal production accounts for 70 percent . . . of the antibiotics used in the United States. That doesn't even include the antibiotics used for animals that actually get sick. That figure is for "non-therapeutic use" such as growth promotion and disease prevention." (from here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091500736.html)
So you can spend dollars getting a quality steak at the farmer's market, where you can talk to the farmer to find out what is really tasty this week OR you can spend dollars at the regular grocery store buying cheap steak from who-knows-where plus the remaining money on your health care costs because the antibiotic resistant bacteria is now taking hold in your lower intestine:
"A 2003 World Health Organization study put it pretty starkly: "There is clear evidence of the human health consequences [from agricultural use of antibiotics, including] infections that would not have otherwise occurred, increased frequency of treatment failures (in some cases death) and increased severity of infections." " (from here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091500736.html)
So buy quality meat and veggies at the farmer's market versus buy antibiotic filled crap at the grocery store on top of paying the doctor and pharmacy. So the research speaks for itself but just to add anecdotal evidence: I used to get sick exactly four times per year when the seasons changed. In the last year or so since I've made the effort to eat quality calories I have been sick exactly, um, NEVER. And I live with a teacher who gets slobbered on for a living, y'all.
As for the money thing: I'm youngish and don't have a giant income (contrary to what a lady at a wedding last weekend told me about how everyone who lives in DC must be hugely wealthy as evidenced by her visit to our nation's capitol last year - I could tell she made a point to visit Shaw). So basically, my fiance and I have a serious budget. Also, we workout a lot. He plays rugby and I even workout for a living. So calories are precious. Honestly, calories = dollars when push comes to shove. So, like this mom, I get tired of spending money on food that is wastefully priced. Yes, she bought her items at the regular store. Yes, she was trying to make replicas of fast food. But the point applies - homemade food is generally cheaper and better for you. Locally grown food (not even organic, the stuff I buy at the farmer's market isn't always organic and I rarely worry if it is or not) tastes better and has more nutrients than food that has been shipped a long distance. Its certainly better than food that has been modified to SURVIVE travels better.
So here is my message for the day: cooking quality food with quality ingredients is affordable and better for you.
(And its not just for superior yuppies.)