Back To Scratch For Processed Food JunkieFri 08 Jul 2011
Story by Alexis Sivcovich
I remember the wicker basket my mom used to carry on our walks to Roger’s produce, where we got our weekly fruits and vegetables. My brother and I would help her pick out produce; I’d be on the lookout for strawberries, and he was a fan of peas.
I knew from a young age what broccoli and asparagus were, although it was a fight to get me to eat them. My mom would cut off the heads, and I’d eat the stems; after all, it’s about compromising. We’d have steamed cauliflower with cheese, and I was one of those strange kids who couldn’t stay away from green beans. I would say the majority of my food education came from my mother-she’d make family dinners and we would try different foods, asking “what’s this green thing?” she had put down in front of us.
My brother and I both played multiple sports from grade school through high school, and our family dinners got lost in between soccer and softball practices, and McDonald’s and other fast foods were picked up between hockey and lacrosse. I was a collector of Happy Meal toys, and always wondered why Taco Bell offered cinnamon twists in their kid’s meals instead of Barbies. My mother has always worked, and at some point making dinner in the midst of everything that was going on became too difficult.
Once I was older, we didn’t eat so much fast food as we ate take-out. We are very loyal to Weber’s, a bar and grill about a block and a half from my house-their buffalo chicken sandwich is to die for! My craze for all things not home-cooked really kicked off when I started driving; at that point the possibilities were endless! I probably had Crazy Bowls and Wraps about 3 times a week, along with Sansai, Qdoba, and, St. Louis Bread Company. During lunch break in high school, my friend Blair and I would go to Subway, where Bobby (yep, we knew the workers by name) would make us a delicious $5 foot long. My mom didn’t seem to mind me always eating out since I worked for my own money.
I took my poor eating habits with me when I went to college. I go to school 10 hours away from home, where no one monitors what I eat. It didn’t take me long to gain the freshmen 15, since I was eating Chick-fil-a, nachos, burgers and fries every day. Of course there were salad bars, but who has the self control to eat a salad when there are greasy burgers and fries in your face! Once I moved out of the dorms and into a house, my bad eating habits worsened. With free range at the grocery store, I would buy Doritos and these disgusting spicy corn snacks called Chester Fries, which I still love with all my heart to this day.
It was junk food galore at my house, because none of my roommates ate well either. We had lots of frozen dinners, chicken nuggets, and our beloved State Fair corndogs. We drenched everything in ranch dressing. We’d try to justify our horrible eating by eating turkey sandwiches, but those sandwiches were quickly cancelled out by a feast at Acapulco’s for dinner, our favorite Mexican restaurant. Things got really bad when I fell back into the McDonald’s trap, and I’m ashamed to admit that there were days when I’d have McDonald’s for breakfast and lunch, not to mention a late night snack on the way home from the bars.
At 21-years-old, I knew this was a horrible diet, but I was working out about 4 times a week, so I figured it was okay. It wasn’t until my summer internship with the Food Revolution team in London that I realized the impact of what I was eating. All the processed foods I’ve been putting into my body for the last 8 years is absolutely horrifying, and I’m lucky I don’t have serious health problems. I now realize that this is the only body I have, and McDonald’s is not a sufficient way of nourishing it.
I’m eager to show my family what I’ve learned since working with the Food Revolution team- it’s back in with the fruits and veggies and out with the take-out! I’m excited about getting in the kitchen and cooking, and I mean really cooking, chopping up veg and getting my hands dirty. Roger’s produce will have to get used to my mom and me again, since I plan on walking down there once a week like we used to, and hopefully we can get Dad to join. It’s back to cooking from scratch at my house!
About the author: Alexis Sivcovich is a student at Auburn University who interned with the Food Revolution team Summer 2011.
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