Suburban Snapshots

It's a Miracle Anyone
Eats Around Here

Friday, December 09, 2011

Remember when someone else controlled most of your food intake, so you didn't have to think about things like calories, saturated fat, unhealthy ingredients, environmental impact, sad chickens, BPA content, or how it is exactly that meat can sit indefinitely at room temperature in cans? Oh, the halcyon days of Chef Boyardee and Kraft Deluxe.

When I realized for the first time that being out on my own meant I could put anything I wanted into my cart, in went Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Yoo Hoo, Cool Ranch Doritos, and some spinach to ward off a shame spiral.

Now I have two other people to consider: a healthy, growing three-and-a-half year-old who'd live on Pirate's Booty and Laffy Taffy if I'd let her, and Steve, whose daily caloric requirements will eventually force us to start ranching our own cattle. And I know too much to go back to Hamburger Helper, with its delicious sodium and seductive hydrolyzed oils.

Used to be I'd check labels' nutritional info and the length of the ingredients list. Now I only glance at those things, scanning instead for high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, unpronounceable ingredients that start with 'x' and basically, that eliminates the entire convenience food aisle. I buy organic when I can (pay weeks), and avoid produce that's not in season (excepting bananas). I stalk packaged meat slowly, like a lion on live prey, looking for what's all natural, vegetarian-fed, and humanely raised. I have beef guilt and rarely cook it at home. Ditto pork — except you, bacon, I can't quit you. 

And now the reports on sketchy apple juice and BPA in cans. Can a mom get a motherbleeping break around here?

Grocery shopping remains my favorite chore. I'm grateful that I'm in a position to be choosy about what I bring home to my family knowing there are people without that luxury. You'll still find cans of tomato soup in my basket and the occasional box of Funny Bones, but mostly you'll find me walking the aisles, squinting at the back of some box wondering what the hell pyridoxine hydrochloride is.

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