The first day I set foot in this Midwestern city I’m now living in I had the awful encounter with the eating habits of a couple of ladies from my black community. I was hoping that this was not the norm but just a couple of ladies in the severe minority who just had no clue about diet, fat or what constitutes vegetables. I am concerned with the eating habits of my community and the fact that we are seriously on track with America’s killer diet.
I walked into a store that seems to be all over this area and went to the salad bar to make myself lunch. As I stood there picking through the salad greens and different vegetables to add to my salad two ladies walked in and came to the salad bar as well. They were both of a larger stature and one turned to the other when she saw the salad and said “Girl, you know I don’t eat no salad.” The other lady said to her “Girl this is where they have those chicken wings I told you about.” She then bypassed the salad and went to the end of the bar where they house the soups and I guess chicken wings. She piled a container high with BBQ chicken wings and then proceeded to dump a bunch of bacon bits on top of them.
I about fainted as I couldn’t imagine eating the chicken wings let alone bacon bits. I know that this may sound a bit self righteous but I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the meat. I love vegetables and spent part of my life as a vegetarian. Now that I have a family I cook a lot of meat so added chicken, turkey and seafood to my diet. I still do not partake in the red meats or pork. Now I allow people the right to pick and choose their own foods without finger pointing from myself. But, this was just too much for me to handle. Both ladies were talking about weight and dieting yet from what I saw this was the furthest thing from their minds.
Now that I have been living here for a while and getting around to the store doing my grocery shopping I have noticed some seriously terrible facts. For one this isn’t isolated to these two women. I have seen more than my share of some seriously bad food choices by blacks in this community. And that the obesity rate has to be enormous forgive the pun. Second the neighborhoods are full of fast food restaurants which seem to constantly be bursting with people. There are these Chop Suey places all over and you would think “great something low fat.” Nope, this isn’t the Chop Suey you would get at a Chinese restaurant. This is artery clogging, fat dripping, full of salt concoction that seems to be one of those dishes that might cause a coronary right after it has been ingested.
Third thing I noticed was that while in the store shopping there is a serious lack of nutritional foods. There are absolutely no good choices of frozen vegetables. They all seem full of butter or flavor and salt. The snack aisle has a lack of unsalted or baked anything. Looking for popcorn and they had absolutely NONE that wasn’t extra butter or caramel or kettle corn. I like low salt version or just the kind I can pop myself. Also, the fresh foods or healthy foods are so much more expensive than the high fat, sodium foods. I have been accustomed to shopping where I had instant access to whole foods right inside the grocery store. Here I believe that I have to shop in a, forgive the term but, “white” area or at a whole foods grocer which I haven’t found yet.
Now that I have seen this lack of access to correct food choices I have to wonder is the reason the people in this area are choosing this unhealthy food is due to a lack of healthy choices or because of culture. I really don’t feel that it is culture because I see others of our culture making better choices. I believe that with a lack of proper nutrition education, a lack of resources, lack of access to nutritious foods and the higher cost of highly nutritious alternatives makes the killer foods more appealing. Not to mention that in school the meals they serve are high in fat, sodium and low in nutritional value. This fact makes it hard for people to know exactly what types of foods they should be consuming. I would like to see programs started to help people make better food choices.