Save to the GRAVE

HeadstoneWe have all heard it. We might have even thought or said it ourselves. “Healthier food is too expensive…I can only afford cheap food!” Reality seems to support this conundrum. I have personally felt the sticker shock on many occasions. You know how it goes, you are standing at the counter of your local grocery store, you have your eye on that prime piece of grass fed beef and then you see the price tag. You could buy two cuts of the standard corn fed beef for the same price. No matter who you are you can lose your nerve and settle for the less healthy option.

Our willingness to settle for lower quality food is something the major food corporations are betting their quarterly earnings on. After all big food is in a breathless race to the bottom. The chain that can yell “CHEAP” the loudest will live to fight another day in the global battlefield that we know as chain restaurant land. Slogans like “Buy One Get One Free” and “Value Meal” efficiently argue for your hard earned dollars. Bulk purchasing also wins the economist side of our brains, I mean honestly, pretzels will always be cheaper when bought by the 5 gallon tub.

So how can we justify spending more on organic or sustainably farmed foods? It really depends on your outlook of the future. A “Live for now” mentality will usually opt for the short term reward. A person taking a prescient approach will often choose to make good long term health decisions. I asked the question about “cheap” food to many of the experts we interviewed for the film Carb-Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat. The response was always along the lines of what Ann Cooper said to me when I asked her. “Sure it’s cheap right now but in reality it’s some of the most expensive food we can put in our bodies” she exclaimed. The expense she is referring to is the economy crushing healthcare costs that we are currently facing.

Pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later

Pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later. I was surprised to discover that it doesn’t take very long to reap the consequences from either mindset. I was relatively young (35) when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Throughout my life I have experimented with different diets. This wasn’t because I needed to lose weight, I have always been a thin person, it was due to the fact that I often felt tired. I always attributed my feelings of exhaustion to the nature of life. I tried cleanses and detoxes. I spent almost 10 years as a vegetarian (which for me meant carbivore). I then morphed into a “non-cow and pig-a-trian”. In the early 2000’s I switched to eating a version of the food pyramid I remembered from my elementary school health classes. You can’t go wrong with that model…right?

In the fall of 2010 I went to the doctor for a routine physical that included blood work. I was given the news that I had adult onset diabetes. I was utterly dumbstruck. How was this possible and more importantly… What would I eat NOW?

For the next year I floundered through a combination of “slightly less” carbs and medication (Metformin). All the while I was reading everything I could find from folks like Mark Sisson, Andreas Eenfeldt, and Prof. Tim Noakes.

At a certain point I decided to give J.E.R.F. (Just Eat Real Food) a try. It’s true that shopping became more expensive then normal. But, then something happened that profoundly changed how I thought about my diet. I noticed that my daily blood glucose tests were showing lower and lower numbers. Eventually, I stopped taking the Metformin and was happy to discover my numbers continued to stay low (low to mid 90’s).

So while I was spending more on food, I was spending less (nothing actually) on medication. Granted, Metformin is one of the least expensive diabetes drugs out there. I should point out ,however, that when I was diagnosed, my primary care doctor had made it clear that I needed to start a regime of three drugs and that I would be a life long pharmacy customer. That outcome no longer seems inevitable.

Our diet is a long term investment

I still feel the pinch of the higher cost of real food. I recently bought an entire wild caught sockeye salmon that cost a very hefty-gulp inducing-sum. That said, it was like nothing I have every eaten, delicious to the last biteĀ and my wife and I had a lot of salmon themed meals while it lasted.

Here is how I think about high quality (expensive) food now: The money is spent on something that you can completely enjoy AND it is good for you. Try doing that on your next visit to a pharmacy.

Lathe Poland is one of the creators of the documentary film Carb-Loaded: A Culture Dying To Eat.

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