By Christopher Cudworth
Those of us who run and ride try like heck to eat well and by proxy, to look great and feel even greater. But even when you try to eat well, life can be tricky.
For example, back when I lived in Philadelphia and worked downtown, I made it a practice to buy lunch from the street vendors all over town. There was some great food out there, especially Chilly Pheasestakes. I mean Philly Cheesesteaks. Those tended to clog your arteries and your brain as you can tell.
Get your fruity on
So at least three days a week I would find a fruit vendor and order a giant fruit cup instead. You had to watch those fruit vendors carefully. There was a game you had to play with them or they would fill up the entire bottom of the cup with cheap grade melon (especially watermelon) and then top it off with a few grapes and dribs and drabs of other fruit on the top. You’d get the appearance of a fruit cup when in fact you were mostly paying for water and fiber at the bottom of the cup.
Locals like me knew the game well and stepped close to the fruit vendor to say, “Not too much watermelon please.” That would let the fruit vendor know you were onto their game. If you were quiet about it they appreciated your discretion and would give you more of the good stuff like blueberries and other healthy edibles. Then you could go eat your actual fruit cup in peace while watching out-of-towners loaded up with cups that were mostly filled with watermelon.
Yes it’s a food industry
The whole world works like this you see. The entire food industry is based on the dynamic that food manufacturers (and yes that is the appropriate term) try to use as few real (and more expensive) ingredients as possible in the food you buy and eat. They also slowly shrink the size of their actual products while enhancing product packaging to make it appear you’re still getting the same value. It’s a wicked game.
Which means that we think we’re buying stuff that’s healthy for us and getting good value when in fact about 60% of what we ingest each day is actually equivalent to the cheap watermelon at the bottom of a Philadelphia vendor cup rather than wholesome foods like blueberries and strawberries and other stuff that stick seeds in your teeth.
Real food will cost you
It’s a lot of work to actually eat healthy. It also tends to cost a lot more unless you have access to local food markets. Step into any Fresh Market food store and you’ll find out that a bowl of fruit alone can cost you $37. Real food will cost you.
It’s the same way with fast food restaurants. That stuff you eat on the dollar menu isn’t really food. It’s the byproducts of things that look enough like food to pass as chicken or beef or fish. The whole idea that something like Chicken McNuggets is real food, or that Doritos have any real relationship to whole grains, or that Hershey’s chocolate is really chocolate is a giant ruse. It tastes like real food and stimulates our brains. But fake food is just that: fake.
Layers of existence
Which means that if we really are what we eat, and things were to settle out in the order of our bodies like some giant pie chart of human existence, we’d all be built like one of those Philadelphia Fruit Cups served to out-of-towners. A thin layer of fruit at the top underlaid by cheap melon and perhaps some remnants of a Philly Cheesesteak.
I work hard to avoid being one of those people who falls for all that phony crap, but old habits and naive notions are hard to change. I still believe the lies on packaging even though I know better.
But at least this morning at Graham’s 318 in Geneva, Illinois, I could see the layers of fruit in the cup and estimate that about 70% of the good stuff was still in there.
And perhaps I’ll run, ride and swim a little better this week as a result of not eating like the out-of-towner I know that I am.