18

votes

What will it take to get Americans to change their eating habits?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 24, 2011 at 6:05 AM

We already know that axing junk food and making healthy food more affordable would save millions of lives and billions of dollars in health care costs, right? Right.

I came across and article tonight that will appear in tomorrow's paper edition of the NYTimes. Mark Bittman attacks this topic in a manner that is both insightful and thought provoking: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/opinion/sunday/24bittman.html?pagewanted=1

In general, I know that I get frustrated when I read articles by people who claim that experts are being unrealistic when they advocate healthier eating since good food is so expensive. We made junk food cheap but we also made good food expensive. It's great that we're finally willing to start taxing unhealthy food, when it actually happens, but what do we do about the good stuff?

MB has great ideas and points. One of them, the cooking lessons, is actually happening here in NY for inner city children. Chef's donate their time, the kids come in, have 4-hours with Chef, make a meal using organic ingredients - many of which are local, then eat. Recipes to take home. To see a kid make their first meal that doesn't come out of a box and compare it to the box food stating "woah this is so much better this is all I want from now on" - to see that light go on above their face is amazing.

Was anything in this article new for you? Are things happening in your area that are "thinking outside of the box" food-wise?

Update

I really thought about this topic a lot today and have seen/heard discussion regarding the article. It's all over Facebook, a couple on the train were talking about it. I hit the greenmarket this morning and was next to a woman who was complaining about the cost of squash blossoms. She was holding a coffee that I knew cost more than the blossoms. Instead of ignoring her, I very mildly pointed that fact out with a smile, also mentioning that the blossoms were organic and pesticide free. Instead of punching me she just kind of looked odd for a minute and said "I never thought of it that way." I told her to get the blossoms and make coffee tomorrow. She bought them.

Continuing to educate - especially kids, getting people to think "round" instead of so narrow is a key part in bringing change.. but of course people are going to have to want to change. The food industry is most definitely not going to want that and will fight tooth and nail. The bottom line will always be money.

I have thoroughly enjoyed what everyone has posted. One of the reason's I've really come to love about PH is all the sharing and opinions that, hopefully, broaden everyones horizons and perhaps brings a different thought process to a topic. So many of the posts I read or post to it always seems to be that way :) Thank you so much for all this collective insight!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Why would this get deleted? It's amazing and I agree. (One of these days I'll learn how to be as eloquent on PH!)

091423a30c0188fbff51e39397e7e056

(384)

on June 09, 2012
at 09:01 PM

Are you not American? Because I am American and I changed my eating habits, and I know the same has happened for other Americans. Or are we using Americans as the new title for "people who don't act like us" or "the other?"

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on January 10, 2012
at 01:57 AM

that's awesome nance!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on January 10, 2012
at 01:56 AM

nice richard! ease is not always the way to go.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on January 10, 2012
at 01:54 AM

thank you toddulent! good luck - change is hard but baby steps always seem to work. i finally have my parents on to organic dairy and eggs, and wild fish. they are very very healthy eaters but due to a somewhat fixed income having them make this little bit is a huge step :)

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 27, 2011
at 08:06 PM

The change may be underway already, I think the show Dinosaur Train is doing a good job getting kids to eat real biologically appropriate food. After watching it my kiddo has started asking for fishies, meat, and leaves. I love you Dinosaur Train!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 26, 2011
at 06:38 PM

very nice, seriously. i live in an are that is economically challenged, the closest grocery, and it's a bad one, **by foot** is a mile away so it's the bodega to get food. many are exhausted single mothers with several kids who may not understand nutrition and see items as convenient and "stretchable" rather than healthy and filling. a woman the other day bought two small bags of chips for $1 rather than a banana for .75 for her kid. The chips seemed a bigger option. I would like to see more accessible farmers markets that participate in WIC/Snap double program.. more baby steps, right? :)

91d422b073139d35e0856967ba1c21d6

(1054)

on July 26, 2011
at 04:17 PM

I think the number one thing to be subsidized is 100% grass-fed beef. That's the most expensive thing on our shopping list and (arguably?) the most important thing for us to be putting in our bodies on a regular basis.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on July 26, 2011
at 03:33 PM

Broccoli with no added fat to aid absorption of nutrients is pretty nutritionally useless...

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 26, 2011
at 11:28 AM

Woah, nice find! I had to use: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725190044.htm as the one you give refuses to open, darnit! I will curl up with coffee and read again.. thanks Wozza! This is great!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 26, 2011
at 01:07 AM

I don't think being in shape or self control ever went out of style. If you open any women's magazine those would appear to be the "only" virtues worth pursuing. I think things went off the rails when our "knowledge" about what to do about it got all screwed up by dietary pseudoscience. I watched my grandfather trade in pork chops for iceburg lettuce and triscuits for dinner in an attempt to ward off another heart attack. What a silly and sad experiment we have been through.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on July 25, 2011
at 07:56 PM

go trimtabs!!!!!

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on July 25, 2011
at 06:59 PM

We all know that nothing good comes from the (or a) government decided what it's people should eat. Too many vested interests, and government moves too slow. You'd really have to approach this from the cultural/society side.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 03:18 PM

Agree! Have you heard of the Wholesome Wave program? It doubles WIC and the dole benefits if spent at farmer's markets. I think it's a fantastic idea.. but we need more farmer's markets in areas that don't have easy access to fruit and veg. Closest grocery in my nabe is over a mile away and you can only get there by foot, bike, car. And all the food is not great and horribly overpriced. Corner bodega wins most of the time for these people. Educate, make it more accessible and affordable, and things will roll even faster.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 03:07 PM

You're living the way I was raised and it's how I continue to live my life. What I'm seeing though, at least where I live, is that people who have simplified their lives seem to have taken on an kind of an elitest attitude so it's difficult to talk to them, see what stemmed the change, etc. How is that productive? If I didn't share and make myself a resource I currently wouldn't have two friends in the middle of a 30 day challenge. Like @grenadine posted.. deeper and broader. Sigh.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 02:55 PM

good points, dunnie! thank you for sharing your story!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 02:55 PM

good point! i **know** that in my neighborhood if diddy, kanye, rihanna, 'lil wayne were to be on the healthy eating band wagon, encourage kids to get up and outside, to actually talk about it and get involved, a bulk of the kids would listen and follow suit. i see them emulating these people daily on the outside - just need the inside.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 02:49 PM

subsidizing fruit and veg?! what a concept! :) we actually had a program that was to be launched last year that subsidizes fruit and vegetables for low-income homes and then monitors the impact on improving eating habits and if obesity rates go down. i haven't heard any updates but you have to start somewhere, right?

71af94295988d55cd3b8340e619729d0

(255)

on July 25, 2011
at 10:50 AM

+ 1 for gently getting someone to think...excellent!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 10:32 AM

i appreciate it! for me it's all just more food for thought. i liked your answer below, tho! oh i most definitely spazz out it just has yet to be seen on ph. still on good behavior but that's a secret. oh man, you're welcome and thanks for your answers!

D5e5788865a3d9a17a729097186e465f

on July 25, 2011
at 10:27 AM

Love your response :] And "see what happens" you would get a TON of people wanting it, and then one person saying "ew you're not wearing gloves while handling my food" and the police would get called and you would get shut down and fined. It's amazing living in a different country [japan] and seeing how things are run here. People sell the most RANDOM things on the street, I saw a girl selling ice cream cones on the side of the highway. The USA makes me sad sometimes.

91d422b073139d35e0856967ba1c21d6

(1054)

on July 25, 2011
at 09:29 AM

Is broccoli unhealthy? Confused.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 25, 2011
at 07:49 AM

The good news is when we run out of gas those big ol' SUVs are going to make great driveway greenhouses.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 25, 2011
at 05:12 AM

*sheepish* erm, thx. --- sorry comment is so cynical. :/ p.s. i posted an 'answer' below (re bittman's piece) but i deleted it because i couldn't bear to read my own hasty cynical words out here on teh innernets.. I'm so grateful not everyone thinks and/or spazzes out like i do. thanks for the thoughtful question, and the optimism.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 25, 2011
at 05:12 AM

[*sheepish*] erm, thx. --- sorry comment is so cynical. :/ p.s. i posted an 'answer' below (re bittman's piece) but i deleted it because i couldn't bear to read my own hasty cynical words out here on teh innernets.. I'm so grateful not everyone thinks and/or spazzes out like i do. thanks for the thoughtful question, and the optimism.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 03:11 AM

I would like a little change.. maybe some quarters instead of the pennies and nickels we all seem to be getting. It's such a convoluted web, eh? But same-sex marriage is now legal in NY, first ones occurred today!, so perhaps good things are on the wind :) Yer awesome Grendadine!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:32 AM

I totally agree that education is key. It really is. But where I live there are many low-income families that have no access to healthy fresh food and are reliant on corner bodega's. It takes me a minimum of 3 hours round trip to get my food. When you have children, are working multiple jobs, very little money something has to go. And what I've seen in my hood it's nutrition. They're stuck. One .75 banana v $1 for two bags of chips? The chips will win as they "stretch." There are those who do find ways to eat healthy, but they're the minority.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:20 AM

the very sorry truth..

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:19 AM

the fact that you have your kids in the kitchen with you is awesome. my nephew who i helped teach to cook now shows his friends and hopefully those friends will pass to other friends and family members. it all tendrils out and sometimes these are the baby steps that are needed. you always have such thoughtful posts, kelly!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:18 AM

the fact that you are in the kitchen with your kids is huge. my nephew who i helped teach to cook shows his friends now, it all tendrils out and hopefully those friends will show their family or other friends :) so awesome you are kelly!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:16 AM

i suspect that the decision on what is considered junk may stem from michelle obama's healthy food campaign but i don't know. pockets are deep and long in our government. i'm googling "saturated fat tax" tonight! never heard of it..

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:12 AM

what's interesting to me is that what you wrote is similar to what my sister went through with herself and her kids. i kept to the way i was raised: healthy meals, a big garden, everyone cooking together, no store treats as mum made them all. big sis wanted cool not "backwoods." she grew out of it and has a 12-acre farm: big garden, animals, fruit trees and cooks great meals. the kids were affected tho. out of the three one learned how to cook from my mum and me and is healthy. the other two? no interest. obese and unhealthy. no desire to change. breaks my heart. thank you for sharing!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:02 AM

I would like a little change.. maybe some quarters instead of the pennies and nickels we all seem to be getting :) It's such a convoluted web, eh? You're pretty awesome @grenadine!

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 24, 2011
at 09:08 PM

ah, i didn't see this before i posted. i'm with so with you - on paragraph two, espesh.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:59 PM

"We already know that axing junk food and making healthy food more affordable would save millions of lives and billions of dollars in health care costs, right? Right." --- Right, except that health care costs are artificially inflated, and the most powerful corporations (insurance companies, Pharma and Big-Ag) have everything to gain by keeping ppl sick. Keep cooking with kids, keep doing what you know is right for you and the people around you, but don't expect sweeping change in your lifetime. ALAS

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:57 PM

The good new is when we run out of gas those big ol' SUVs are going to make great driveway greenhouses.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:46 PM

"it's a question that goes deeper than eating habits and one that gets me mad every time it think of it" --- YUP. much deeper, and much BROADER. alas alas

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:08 PM

the sorry truth.

78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1035)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:03 PM

You are awesome. I totally agree with all of this. If we are advocating for whole food, then someone will need to be at home to cook it.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 24, 2011
at 07:43 PM

Why would this get deleted? It's amazing! I agree with you and just have a goddamn hard time editing myself to be more eloquent - am still new and slightly nervous when I post as I don't want to offend.. but I think the gloves are going to come off soon.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 24, 2011
at 07:39 PM

But when you can show kids what you can *do* with broccoli and how you can make it good, it's a different story :) I made sauteed broccoli with garlic and red pepper flakes for one round of kids that came through, just barely cooked through, on top of polenta with chicken sausage. Some were no way and shoved the veg to the side. The ones that did loved them little trees cause they didn't have the crap cooked out of them, were nice small manageable pieces, and actually green. Do they still have Home Ec in schools? God.. start them cooking young with GOOD food and away we go.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 24, 2011
at 07:09 PM

Not that I dislike broccoli, but I'm sure that they do.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on July 24, 2011
at 03:41 PM

But with incredible focus a small force can elicit massive change. We learned this from Einstein and Martin Luther King jr. It will happen again. Dietary incongruency will be reigned in because of healthcare costs and demographics. The real question is what side of the tipping point will you be on?

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 24, 2011
at 03:08 PM

Love the idea of taxing food packages! It will never happen of course but it would be a big step in the right direction.

B539a8c692e40f6b85cd11d87ec908d4

(160)

on July 24, 2011
at 12:56 PM

+1 for "...let me get a scooter and get out of my way I have shopping to do." Don't get me started on how sad/disgusted it makes me to see this... choices people, choices. We choose every day - and yet - for some, they CHOOSE to be the victim... Ok, rant over.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 24, 2011
at 11:30 AM

For me it was high A1C and blood sugar, and a doctor who diagnosed me with diabetes. Then he started to look for the holes in my feet. That is the ONLY thing that got through.

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21 Answers

21
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 24, 2011
at 09:51 AM

So close, but so far. Cooking lessons, yes! Local food, yes! Community gardens, yes! Nutritional counseling for kids, it depends. Taxing corn syrup filled beverages, maybe. Taxing saturated fat, no! A lot of the "food science" they want to base these programs on is just blatantly wrong, and legislating CW ideas about nutrition is going to make the veins blow out of my forehead. Until they manage to get their heads out of their rear ends about what constitutes a nourishing meal, I do not support food sin taxes. Maybe a food packaging tax would be better?

If we really want to change America's eating habits we need to make it socially and economically desirable to do so. Shifting subsidies from large monoculture farms to community gardens and organic farms is a good place to start. Stopping the "welfare queen" witch hunts that made it a criminal offense to be a stay at home single mom or dad, would be even better. 6 weeks maternity leave is just a cruel joke, 3-5 years of subsidized community building, garden tending, home cooking time with children could completely re-knit our society's most vulnerable and undernourished communities. I do not find it a coincidence that childhood obesity rates soared as mothers were forced into the workforce and into poorly paying jobs. (Don't even get me started on crime. Well organized mothers are the best police force a community could have.) It takes time to cook good food, and if you are working two minimum wage jobs to pay your rent, you are not going to have time or money to nurture your children and cook healthy food with premium ingredients from scratch.

We also need to stop the problem of "supply" driving our "demand" for things like corn, soy, and wheat. We subsidize those things so heavily, that food manufacturers are forced to try and find new and marketable options for them. I'm sure I'm totally preaching to the choir here, but I am always amazed at how hard it is to find a pre-packaged food item on a grocery store shelf that doesn't contain one of those 3 ingredients.

You can totally delete me without any hard feelings if I've stepped over a line here, but I had to get that out after reading the article.

I also think we need a street food revolution. I've been so impressed by the availability of healthy food, ready to eat, right on the street pretty much everywhere I've been except in the ol' US of A. In the shopping areas in Asia I couldn't go two stalls without passing something that smelled good. Fast food does not need to be synonymous with junk food. Not having a lot of time to cook and not having a lot of money shouldn't prevent people from being able to eat well. I don't know if it is zoning laws or the sense that in 'merica we simply prefer food courts and drive thrus. I do know that if someone started pedaling through my neighborhood with a sushi cart or shish kabob cart they would be mobbed. We have one beloved taco truck and there is usually a line. Maybe I should just drag my grill down to the street corner "lemonade stand style", skewer some meat on a stick, and see what happens?

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Why would this get deleted? It's amazing and I agree. (One of these days I'll learn how to be as eloquent on PH!)

78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1035)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:03 PM

You are awesome. I totally agree with all of this. If we are advocating for whole food, then someone will need to be at home to cook it.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 24, 2011
at 07:43 PM

Why would this get deleted? It's amazing! I agree with you and just have a goddamn hard time editing myself to be more eloquent - am still new and slightly nervous when I post as I don't want to offend.. but I think the gloves are going to come off soon.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 24, 2011
at 03:08 PM

Love the idea of taxing food packages! It will never happen of course but it would be a big step in the right direction.

D5e5788865a3d9a17a729097186e465f

on July 25, 2011
at 10:27 AM

Love your response :] And "see what happens" you would get a TON of people wanting it, and then one person saying "ew you're not wearing gloves while handling my food" and the police would get called and you would get shut down and fined. It's amazing living in a different country [japan] and seeing how things are run here. People sell the most RANDOM things on the street, I saw a girl selling ice cream cones on the side of the highway. The USA makes me sad sometimes.

14
8caffe4dea631347b447e9f4e12fb2da

(589)

on July 24, 2011
at 11:06 AM

They never will, we are a nation of excess. Everywhere we go it's all you can eat, excessive meal sizes at every restaurant. Our cars have to be the size of house. You don't have to leave your car to get any food, people make their lives so busy that they are constantly in a hurry. They eat in their cars every where, to work or just to get to the mall so they can get more unnecessary stuff, to over fill their massive homes. You see it everywhere. My wife and I have a more European attitude when it comes to our life style. two small cars, modest well kept uncluttered home. We bike ride, we walk when ever we can, enjoy being with family. We also are careful of what we eat except she isn't Paleo yet. So until we as a nation start to chose a more simple less cluttered lifestyle and start to realize that life doesn't need to be complicated, that bigger isn't best, forget us getting healthier as a nation. To Americans it's give me a pill for my problems let me get a scooter and get out of my way I have shopping to do. Hey this is the longest answer I ever gave here, it's a question that goes deeper than eating habits and one that gets me mad every time it think of it. Just so you know I am not Liberal or Conservative I try to be a free and well informed thinker. Most of us here are, or we wouldn't be here.

B539a8c692e40f6b85cd11d87ec908d4

(160)

on July 24, 2011
at 12:56 PM

+1 for "...let me get a scooter and get out of my way I have shopping to do." Don't get me started on how sad/disgusted it makes me to see this... choices people, choices. We choose every day - and yet - for some, they CHOOSE to be the victim... Ok, rant over.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:57 PM

The good new is when we run out of gas those big ol' SUVs are going to make great driveway greenhouses.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:46 PM

"it's a question that goes deeper than eating habits and one that gets me mad every time it think of it" --- YUP. much deeper, and much BROADER. alas alas

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 25, 2011
at 07:49 AM

The good news is when we run out of gas those big ol' SUVs are going to make great driveway greenhouses.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 03:07 PM

You're living the way I was raised and it's how I continue to live my life. What I'm seeing though, at least where I live, is that people who have simplified their lives seem to have taken on an kind of an elitest attitude so it's difficult to talk to them, see what stemmed the change, etc. How is that productive? If I didn't share and make myself a resource I currently wouldn't have two friends in the middle of a 30 day challenge. Like @grenadine posted.. deeper and broader. Sigh.

12
D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on July 24, 2011
at 11:52 AM

I didn't read the article because I am too lazy, however:

Junk food, HFCS, white bread, grainfed cows, etc. is so cheap now (compared to healthy food) partially because of farm subsidies. The USDA is more concerned about the USA exporting wheat, corn, and soy than they are about health.

Does it make any sense that you are taxed now so that a farmer can get that money to offset his costs of producing corn. Then that corn is made into HFCS and other products and is artificially cheap because you already paid for part of the production of the corn (your original taxes). Now the HFCS is not good for you so we better tax that so you don't consume it. But now the farmer can't sell corn and that drives the price down at the markets. Then the government steps in to increase your taxes so that it can give the farmer more money to produce corn.....

All the while the government is telling you how healthy those subsidized grains are and that in order to be healthy you better eat 10 or so servings of them a day. And if you can't eat them, don't worry, drink soy milk - it costs more but it's also subsidized.

I just used HFCS, think about the subsidized cost of corn compared to an unsubsidized acre of pasture for cattle or any number of food products that you eat.

Anybody that expects the government to solve a problem that it largely created is a fool.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:20 AM

the very sorry truth..

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:08 PM

the sorry truth.

8
27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on July 24, 2011
at 09:40 AM

I don't think there's any single thing that will make "Americans" change their food habits. More information (more "correct" information) will help change the habits of people who really want to be eating the right thing. This will be a gradual change and happen over time.

Taubes in GCBC shows the impact of all the (mis)information released about high-fiber, high-carb, and low-fat diets... people started moving towards whole grains and beans instead of meat. They went out and bought SnackWells by the truckload. When lack of exercise was diagnosed as a cause of obesity, people went out and bought running shoes, treadmills, exercycles, and gym memberships. Now, the right information just has to make its way out there and people WILL find a way to afford the foods that have been identified as being healthy.

But that applies only to people who feel it's important enough. After all, we've known for decades now what smoking does to you. And yet there are people who still chain-smoke (and find a way to afford cigarettes, no matter how low their income/how highly taxed their cigarettes are).

Just look at all the threads on here about how to get spouses/partners/children/parents to start eating Paleo, or even to just start eating less-processed, less sugary foods. I don't see the expense as a major barrier in those threads. It's just not what those people want to, or think they should, eat.

Basically, the cigarette tax didn't do the trick. I don't think a donut tax will be enough either. Subsidized beef may help poorer families who would like to be able to eat it, but heavily taxed Cheetos won't stop those who want it from buying it.

EDIT: Upon re-reading the above, I realize I sound like Marie Antoinette - "Let them eat eggs from caged hens!" That wasn't my intention. Subsidized meat and vegetables will certainly help those families who can afford only beans and tortillas now (and want to eat better). But it won't change the attitudes of the happily food-addicted.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 03:18 PM

Agree! Have you heard of the Wholesome Wave program? It doubles WIC and the dole benefits if spent at farmer's markets. I think it's a fantastic idea.. but we need more farmer's markets in areas that don't have easy access to fruit and veg. Closest grocery in my nabe is over a mile away and you can only get there by foot, bike, car. And all the food is not great and horribly overpriced. Corner bodega wins most of the time for these people. Educate, make it more accessible and affordable, and things will roll even faster.

7
78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1035)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:31 PM

People will have to want to change and I'm not sure you can force that. Using myself as an example: my mom grew up on a farm, drank raw milk, ate pastured eggs, pastured meat (cow brains, mountain oysters and all) but wanted a more "cityfied" life for herself after college. She did cook a lot of our meals growing up, and we were lucky to always get grass fed beef from my grandma, but she definitely relied a lot on packaged goods. We had mashed potatoes from a box (ewww), and ramen noodles every Sunday evening. She tried SO hard to teach me how to cook, but I couldn't have cared less, I pretty much refused to learn. In college I literally lived off of ramen noodles, tuna helper, pizza rolls, crackers and copious amounts of cheap beer. My diet never got much better until I got pregnant, even then I was just going by what CW told me. I shopped for food at the "health store" and got prepackaged meals from the freezer. I just had no idea what to do with food! The real impetus for change was when I got gestational diabetes and was checking my blood sugar every couple hours. One morning after a breakfast of the "healthy" 7-grain cereal, my blood sugar was 200. I was completely devastated and angry. Hadn't I been eating what I was supposed to be eating? After that day, I started eating eggs for breakfast and researching nutrition. I found my way to WAPF and made some baby steps towards eating real food. And here I am 4 years later, still teaching myself how to cook and realizing it doesn't need to be very complicated.
And the point of my whole life story here is to say, people will need a reason to change. Right now there are a lot of people who are trying to eat healthy, but in the way the dumb food pyramid or whatever it is now tells them to. Other people are just trying to survive, they don't have the energy to stop and think about the ingredients in cheetos, or how many PUFA's they've ingested that day. And I agree that fresh produce at the gas station and schools is a great idea, the more real food is normalized and shoved in people's faces the better.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:12 AM

what's interesting to me is that what you wrote is similar to what my sister went through with herself and her kids. i kept to the way i was raised: healthy meals, a big garden, everyone cooking together, no store treats as mum made them all. big sis wanted cool not "backwoods." she grew out of it and has a 12-acre farm: big garden, animals, fruit trees and cooks great meals. the kids were affected tho. out of the three one learned how to cook from my mum and me and is healthy. the other two? no interest. obese and unhealthy. no desire to change. breaks my heart. thank you for sharing!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 02:55 PM

good points, dunnie! thank you for sharing your story!

7
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 24, 2011
at 01:38 PM

I think the only thing we can do is individually affect those around us, educate and teach our children what good healthy foods/ways are and hope they stick with it. As a child I wasn't taught about good food, most our meals came from cans and boxes, I never saw fresh fruit either.

I managed to figure it out when I had my own kids and they have lean bodies and are much healthier than I ever was. They've seen me yo-yo diet and crash and burn several times, all my friends doing plastic surgeries-they both say my generation is obsessed with beauty but not health and quick fixes. I hope that they keep it going with the next generation!!

Those in positions to have great influences should do what they can to impact those around them, especially kids, so I'm so thrilled to see all these cooking programs as well as Master chef type TV shows where they are exhibiting what to do with real foods and nothing processed!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:19 AM

the fact that you have your kids in the kitchen with you is awesome. my nephew who i helped teach to cook now shows his friends and hopefully those friends will pass to other friends and family members. it all tendrils out and sometimes these are the baby steps that are needed. you always have such thoughtful posts, kelly!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:18 AM

the fact that you are in the kitchen with your kids is huge. my nephew who i helped teach to cook shows his friends now, it all tendrils out and hopefully those friends will show their family or other friends :) so awesome you are kelly!

6
Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

on July 24, 2011
at 03:08 PM

Changing the food habits of a collective nation would be no small task, and I'd say it's be working along the lines of social "re-engineering", or somehow modifying the collective culture. How someone does this, well, you'd have to come at it from all the perspectives of how people form opinions on what to eat. Although right now, the American diet is fairly integral to how many Americans function (who's got time to make bone broth?)

Anyway, the main thing I get concerned about, is people talking of taxing junk foods. Who decided what is junk? Is it unhealthy food? Who decided what is unhealthy? The last thing I want to see is saturated fat getting taxed by a bunch of people who don't know anything about nutrition (think along the lines of the food pyramid). This makes me think of the "saturated fat tax" that Denmark is trying to implement.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 24, 2011
at 09:08 PM

ah, i didn't see this before i posted. i'm with so with you - on paragraph two, espesh.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:16 AM

i suspect that the decision on what is considered junk may stem from michelle obama's healthy food campaign but i don't know. pockets are deep and long in our government. i'm googling "saturated fat tax" tonight! never heard of it..

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on July 25, 2011
at 06:59 PM

We all know that nothing good comes from the (or a) government decided what it's people should eat. Too many vested interests, and government moves too slow. You'd really have to approach this from the cultural/society side.

6
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on July 24, 2011
at 11:50 AM

Things change when enough people keep doing their N-1 and the number reaches a tipping point. Everything responds eventually to mathematics. I believe paleo is a community where the numbers could lead to massive change soon. It's just too small now

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on July 24, 2011
at 03:41 PM

But with incredible focus a small force can elicit massive change. We learned this from Einstein and Martin Luther King jr. It will happen again. Dietary incongruency will be reigned in because of healthcare costs and demographics. The real question is what side of the tipping point will you be on?

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on July 25, 2011
at 07:56 PM

go trimtabs!!!!!

6
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 24, 2011
at 11:20 AM

Healthy food isn't expensive unless you think the only healthy diet is low carb with grass fed meat. The problem is that most people are lazy, have no idea how to cook basic foods and most would rather have a dollar cheeseburger over something with substance.

Most people don't even know how much calories or nutrition different foods have and without this info its extremely hard to know what to buy to save cash. Once you have this info though it becomes extremely easy.

Bottom line, Teach people to focus on the most nutrient dense foods/how many calories are in a food per $10 and eating healthy for cheap will be simple.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 01:32 AM

I totally agree that education is key. It really is. But where I live there are many low-income families that have no access to healthy fresh food and are reliant on corner bodega's. It takes me a minimum of 3 hours round trip to get my food. When you have children, are working multiple jobs, very little money something has to go. And what I've seen in my hood it's nutrition. They're stuck. One .75 banana v $1 for two bags of chips? The chips will win as they "stretch." There are those who do find ways to eat healthy, but they're the minority.

5
Medium avatar

on July 26, 2011
at 03:12 PM

You can't force people to be healthy. Taxing cigarettes didn't stop people from smoking, taxing soda won't stop people from drinking soda.

IMHO, the first and foremost change that must take place is, we must put an end to all the pseudo science and hatred of good food. For as long as we have people like this: http://www.thevisualmd.com/expert_panel/elisa_zied_ms_rd_cdn/conquer_snack_attacks_with_experts_top_picks and this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/may/24/meme-roth-obesity-nutrition and this: http://www.amazon.com/Health-Food-Junkies-Orthorexia-Overcoming/dp/0767906306 as our "health and nutrition experts", nothing will ever change.

I do not subscribe to the notion that Americans as a nation are lazy and dumb. We're just frazzled and stressed more than most. It's the price of good living. Does it have to be? I don't know. I feel very fortunate to be able to have the time to research nutrition, work out, shop at local farmers markets and cook healthy nutritious food from scratch for my family. But when you're a mom commuting two hours each way working two jobs just to make ends meet, can you do all that? When you get home at 7 pm to a hungry family knowing you have to wake up the next morning at 5 am, are you going to start chopping veggies and prepping steaks and whipping up homemade salad dressing, or are you more likely to just throw some Easy Mac into the microwave (not to mention, what if you just plain old can't afford organic food on your income)? And then, after having stuffed yourself with whatever is on hand, you plop yourself in front of the TV because you're too damn tired to do anything else, and you catch some "expert" telling you how eating low-fat, high-carb diet and doing cardio every day is good for you... And you believe it. Because you have no energy or time left to fight it.

I've lived this kind of life, and I was able to break the cycle, but some people can't. Some want to and can't. Some try and fail. Why? Because they're swimming against the current. If we as a nation want to change our eating habits we have to first create an environment that would welcome such changes. Others have already mentioned the essentials - move subsidies to local farms, stop the misinformation, call manufacturers on their marketing unhealthy foods, stop the "supply driving demand" insanity, give women better maternity leave and stop demonizing stay at home parents, etc. etc. I would like to add another one to all this - stop with the "fat acceptance movement". I'm all for accepting people for who they are, and I definitely don't support discrimination, but I also believe that forcing people into accepting the notion that obesity is in any way normal, healthy, or even desirable is insanity.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 26, 2011
at 06:38 PM

very nice, seriously. i live in an are that is economically challenged, the closest grocery, and it's a bad one, **by foot** is a mile away so it's the bodega to get food. many are exhausted single mothers with several kids who may not understand nutrition and see items as convenient and "stretchable" rather than healthy and filling. a woman the other day bought two small bags of chips for $1 rather than a banana for .75 for her kid. The chips seemed a bigger option. I would like to see more accessible farmers markets that participate in WIC/Snap double program.. more baby steps, right? :)

5
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on July 25, 2011
at 03:08 AM

I think something that will help a lot (and I predict that it will in fact happen) is that it will become cool / hip / fashionable to be fit and healthy, to be strong with muscle tone and an active lifestyle, at any age.

There was a time not that long ago (maybe 50-60 years) where being fit and healthy and showing restraint and good sense when eating was considered a virtue, and people that were fat, sedentary, and never got any exercise were considered unusual or perhaps slightly freakish.

Today, it is entirely ok to be 10, 20 or even 50 pounds overweight, and politically incorrect to even acknowledge that somone needs to lose weight. Nobody balks at huge portion sizes or crap food nor do they connect it with their girth or myriad of health problems. Virtually every person you see in public could stand to lose at least 10-20 pounds, but very few of them seem to care.

I am not sure what it will take to trigger a cultural shift, but my money is on the young people, the up and coming generation that should find the nerve to rebel against the totally incorrect diet and fitness advice their parents have been living with.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 02:55 PM

good point! i **know** that in my neighborhood if diddy, kanye, rihanna, 'lil wayne were to be on the healthy eating band wagon, encourage kids to get up and outside, to actually talk about it and get involved, a bulk of the kids would listen and follow suit. i see them emulating these people daily on the outside - just need the inside.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 26, 2011
at 01:07 AM

I don't think being in shape or self control ever went out of style. If you open any women's magazine those would appear to be the "only" virtues worth pursuing. I think things went off the rails when our "knowledge" about what to do about it got all screwed up by dietary pseudoscience. I watched my grandfather trade in pork chops for iceburg lettuce and triscuits for dinner in an attempt to ward off another heart attack. What a silly and sad experiment we have been through.

5
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:15 PM

I've got it! 3 pronged media blitz.

1) We need to get Dr. Oz on board, he's surely running out of studies about whole grains saving the world by now.

2) Clone Jamie Oliver, so he can challenge every school district to feed kids better simultaneously. He's not paleo, but he's 90% in the right direction.

3) More celebrities showing off their paleo beach bods.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 27, 2011
at 08:06 PM

The change may be underway already, I think the show Dinosaur Train is doing a good job getting kids to eat real biologically appropriate food. After watching it my kiddo has started asking for fishies, meat, and leaves. I love you Dinosaur Train!

4
712ae523395367f16eba01c54d5155eb

on July 25, 2011
at 02:37 AM

The one thing that will do it is to move subsidies from big ag to local community farms.

4
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on July 24, 2011
at 06:14 PM

I'm currently 64, so I am part of the "baby boom" generation. Look around at any big box store and despite the gray hair you'll see that many members of my generation haven't really changed much in their general attitudes. The children they raised are also very different than previous generations, although not the same as the Boomers. So, I think it will require a significant portion of a generation of young people to embrace the primal/paleo lifestyle in order for it to become part of the mainstream. In the case of baby boomers, it was a combination of the Great Depression (their grandparents) and WWII (their parents) and the Kennedy assassination. Some series of circumstances will have to shock and imprint a generation of kids to turn away from SAD.

UPDATE: I must say my family and friends are very pleased with my transformation so far, so maybe I can be part of the critical mass. They're much more interested and accepting now than they were at first. If the kid or grandkid, both of whom are very social, ever try ancestral eating they will influence their own circles and so on and so forth.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on January 10, 2012
at 01:57 AM

that's awesome nance!

4
Medium avatar

(19479)

on July 24, 2011
at 11:50 AM

The current global nutritional paradigm, economy, and, by extension, population, is entirely dependent on fossil fuels.

When the oil dries up, and it is likely we are at or near peak production now, eating habits, among other things, will change.

what-will-it-take-to-get-americans-to-change-their-eating-habits?

(Graph from the Encyclopedia of Earth website)

3
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 24, 2011
at 07:09 PM

Stop telling them that quinoa, skinless chicken breast, broccoli and skim milk are the healthy foods! I was crazy enough to do that but then again I was 20 at the time.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 24, 2011
at 07:39 PM

But when you can show kids what you can *do* with broccoli and how you can make it good, it's a different story :) I made sauteed broccoli with garlic and red pepper flakes for one round of kids that came through, just barely cooked through, on top of polenta with chicken sausage. Some were no way and shoved the veg to the side. The ones that did loved them little trees cause they didn't have the crap cooked out of them, were nice small manageable pieces, and actually green. Do they still have Home Ec in schools? God.. start them cooking young with GOOD food and away we go.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 24, 2011
at 07:09 PM

Not that I dislike broccoli, but I'm sure that they do.

91d422b073139d35e0856967ba1c21d6

(1054)

on July 25, 2011
at 09:29 AM

Is broccoli unhealthy? Confused.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on July 26, 2011
at 03:33 PM

Broccoli with no added fat to aid absorption of nutrients is pretty nutritionally useless...

2
6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on November 10, 2011
at 02:18 AM

I think time and money are the main reasons why Americans eat food that is not healthy. Getting them to change their eating habit is going to be difficult because most Americans value time more than their health.

I think the Dalai Lama said it best when he was asked about what surprised him most about Humanity. His answer was ???Man, because he sacrifises his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.???

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on January 10, 2012
at 01:56 AM

nice richard! ease is not always the way to go.

2
C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on July 26, 2011
at 09:23 AM

This just in: Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas. Apparently, 10% of people have to believe it, and then it spreads.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 26, 2011
at 11:28 AM

Woah, nice find! I had to use: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725190044.htm as the one you give refuses to open, darnit! I will curl up with coffee and read again.. thanks Wozza! This is great!

2
E185f365b6fadff5158f91cd2935a216

(40)

on July 25, 2011
at 07:58 AM

I agree about the cost. As an expat living in the UK.The meat/veg here is cheaper than the US.. That shouldn't even be financially possible. Big community( government supported farms) would work. Also,do not have fit a bout Europeans being healthier, they are not they life expectancy is 1 year more than ours on average. I was in grammar school in the mid 80's/90's and I learned how to cook,sew in Home Economics classes. That would help.. In hours(work) fitness like they have in Japan( Tai Chi).I am fond of T Tapps. No jarring,jumping.. Many people here in the UK, buy food just like in the states and skip fruits/veg/meats because they are expensive. But the minute they become economically viable, the stuff flies off the shelf.. The EU subsides farmers( ethically) in order to make it profitable and the cost lower whereby people can afford to eat it.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 25, 2011
at 02:49 PM

subsidizing fruit and veg?! what a concept! :) we actually had a program that was to be launched last year that subsidizes fruit and vegetables for low-income homes and then monitors the impact on improving eating habits and if obesity rates go down. i haven't heard any updates but you have to start somewhere, right?

91d422b073139d35e0856967ba1c21d6

(1054)

on July 26, 2011
at 04:17 PM

I think the number one thing to be subsidized is 100% grass-fed beef. That's the most expensive thing on our shopping list and (arguably?) the most important thing for us to be putting in our bodies on a regular basis.

1
1dda08efb8ba98e9128fdef038153227

on January 06, 2012
at 08:49 PM

I read this article a while back. My family is in horrible shape and all of them eat shitty. I am about to move in with my dad and stepmom for a year to help out with him. I told her that I was continuing to eat the way I eat and would buy and cook my own food. She said ok, but cautioned that storage space is at a premium. Looking through the fridge is nothing but processed junk. There's meat and veggies in there, but the vast majority is junk. The pantry is filled with processed, boxed junk. Every type of pasta and flour and sugar and legume and grain. It's like they are stocking up for the zombie apocalypse. I went home, looked in my fridge and pantry. Halfway through the week I am on track to be empty if I don't shop tomorrow. I make a weekly trip for the food for the week. The only staples I have are coconut oil, olive oil and spices.

When I mention all of the stuff they have in the pantry has been there for months, they say it's to make sure they have plenty. I tell them how my kitchen looks and they say, "That's all too expensive." They have five boxes of Russell Stover chocolates on the counter. I stole one dark chocolate piece. It was nowhere near as good as the 85% cacao bars I buy when I do indulge. That bar costs...$3.00 and lasts over a week. ONE box of Russell Stovers costs them $12.00 and they go through it in 5-7 days between two of them.

I haven't read through the responses yet, but to answer the question "What will it take to get Americans to change their eating habits?" When Big Pharma and Big Agriculture stopped peddling their poison and start peddling healthy. Follow the money. I am pretty sternly anarchist with a twee fan girl crush on libertarian thought. I don't HATE capitalism. I just hate greedy CAPITALISTS. Big Pharma and Big Agriculture are greedy. Since people want to be programmed and conditioned, they will continue to listen to the conventional wisdom that comes from the fat cats looking to make more money off the misery of others.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on January 10, 2012
at 01:54 AM

thank you toddulent! good luck - change is hard but baby steps always seem to work. i finally have my parents on to organic dairy and eggs, and wild fish. they are very very healthy eaters but due to a somewhat fixed income having them make this little bit is a huge step :)

0
559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:41 PM

First of all, who gets to decide what's healthy? I heart Mark Bittman, but i don't necessarily subscribe to his idea that we, uh, 'all agree with the experts'... to wit:

"Though experts increasingly recommend a diet high in plants and low in animal products and processed foods, ours is quite the opposite, and there’s little disagreement that changing it could improve our health and save tens of millions of lives."

Anyway, does anyone reeeaaallly want the Gov't deciding what's healthy??!? E.g. I honestly, think it's a travesty when i see people spending all their foodstamps on soda and funyuns, but the possible ramifications of disallowing that are much, much worse, imo.

And of course, the purpose of Sin Tax is revenue, it's not some benevolent plan to protect us poor l'il ol' Mer'cans. The most addictive things have the highest taxes, not because they're bad, but because it's a no-fail source of income. Gasoline, booze, smokes and now.. duh... sugar.

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