I try hard not to judge other people. I know that not everyone has had the same opportunities as I have, and I keep in mind that they may just be going through a rough patch. But I couldn't keep from being disappointed when I saw the family in front of me at the grocery store checkout yesterday.


I was there with my two young daughters. We had made an unusual second trip to the store this week because we needed a few necessities: apples, kiwis, bananas, milk, pistachios, jicama, frozen vegetables, and cocoa powder.


As we stood in line to check out, I noticed a young girl sitting in the cart ahead of us. She was probably 3 years old, with a round, pudgy face and long blond hair. As I smiled at her, she continued to fidget and scowl. It wasn't the shy scowl that my girls sometimes give strangers. It was a grouchy scowl. I saw her older sister, probably 5 years old, looking much the same while unloading their groceries out of the cart and onto the conveyor. Their mother, also overweight, was at the front of the line, chatting with the cashier.


It was then that I couldn't help but notice what they were buying: 2 six-packs of bottled soda, an extra-large bag of gummy candies, shiny bags of either chips or cookies (who could tell), and other assorted forms of sugar. There wasn't a single item in their cart that had any nutritional value!


My first thought was 'no wonder those kids are grouchy, they aren't eating real food' and my second thought was 'come on mom, you can do better'.


Now maybe they were on their annual "eat all the junk you want" birthday shopping spree. Maybe they were buying them for a house-bound friend with incredibly low blood sugar. Or maybe it was just another Wednesday and they got hungry.


But as I watched their mom pull them down the sidewalk in a wagon with sodas hanging over the side, it occurred to me that maybe that mom couldn't do better. Maybe she didn't know how harmful sugar and processed foods were for her children. Maybe she didn't make the connection between what they were eating and their excess weight or sour dispositions. 


And that made me feel sad. Sad for those children who haven't learned the importance (and deliciousness) of real food at a young age. Sad because they were already struggling with their weight, which would probably continue into their adult life. Sad because this is happening far too often. 


If I had my magic wand, what would I do? It seems to me that the easiest solution would be to simply stop producing all of this crappy 'food' cold-turkey. If it's not on the store shelves to buy, people (both young and old) won't be able to eat it. Yes, that would put large multinational corporations out of business and yes, people would lose their jobs in manufacturing and shipping these products. But there are plenty of other healthy food suppliers who could hire them and it would be a small price to pay for the continued health and survival of our species.


Since my magic wand doesn't seem to be working today, the next best option is to pretend they don't exist. Don't buy them. If someone else offers them to you, don't eat them. Do you remember Oreo O's cereal? Well, Post stopped making it because people weren't buying enough. Let's do our part so that in the years to come soda, chips, cookies, candy, and all the rest will end up as just a distant memory.


Published by Phoebe DeCook