According to Dr. Robert Lustig there are approximately 600,000 food items on American supermarket shelves, and he estimates that 80% of those items have had processed sugar (in some form or another) added to them. Hmmm.... By my math that's about 480,000 food items that have sugar added. Not to mention the other preservatives, additives, embellishments, and adhesives. Wow!
So, if we are interested in escaping the Standard American Diet (S.A.D), how do we decide which food products to put in the shopping basket?
At the school I currently serve (Guthrie Common School District in Guthrie, Texas) we invited nutritionist Rachelle Atkinson to visit with our students, staff, and parents about health and nutrition last week. RA did a remarkable job of providing a very simple guideline to use in food selection. According to RA, the best starting point is to use two driving questions when deciding whether or not a food is most likely wholesome:
- When I look at the item, is it obvious that it was grown in dirt?
- If not, is the item from an animal that was fed from stuff that was growing in dirt?
The point is that the closer a food is to its naturally grown form, the better. What a great benchmarking technique for food selection. Of course, for us purists, there are some additional considerations (e.g., treated with herbicides? treated with pesticides? genetically modified? pasture fed? pasture finished? hormone free? antibiotic free?), but those two questions form a very cool and simple starting point for getting our food "right." Interestingly, the foods that are most likely to be wholesome are generally found around the perimeter of the supermarket, not down the center isles.
Nice guidelines, RA?