Guest Post: When Did We Forget How To Eat?
It’s always a pleasure to meet another creative person who shares the crazyfire that it takes to be productive in writing, or anything creative. My scribbling compatriot Kelly Nelsen and I are swapping stories this week on our respective websites. I wrote for her a few days ago, and today I get to share a story from her. Enjoy!
When Did We Forget How To Eat?
By Kelly Nelsen
Last year, my husband decided to try going gluten-free. I was just a tad unsupportive at first. By a tad, I mean I was considering sneaking gluten into his food and seeing if he even noticed. (I am a terrible person, by the way.) I rolled my eyes and huffed indignantly, preaching from my soap box that people have become hypochondriacs programmed by the pharmaceutical companies who want us to believe that we’re all sick. (Why he married me I’ll never know.) But after the first few weeks of him not eating gluten and me being a giant jerk, his stomach magically stopped punishing him. He’d always had stomach problems; he just never knew the cause. (Did I mention I’m a terrible person?) So I reluctantly started to change the things we were eating, but me being Dr. Cynical, I started doing research. My argument was that thirty years ago, people weren’t allergic to everything. My dad’s generation didn’t ever have a flight attendant announce that no one will be served peanuts on the flight because one passenger is allergic. (But they were still smoking in planes back then, by the way.) In the last year, two of my friends have gone gluten-free because of gluten intolerance or Celiac disease in their family. Restaurants are getting accustomed to gluten-free eating and most places provide a gluten-free menu. Our grocery store even has a green label for all of the gluten-free products.
So what the hell? Why are we suddenly non-dairy, non-gluten, non-everything? Are we becoming a bunch of sissy Poindexters?
What is slowly coming into the blame circle is genetically modified organisms in our food. This was a theory that my burnout hippie friends used to preach, but it wasn’t until this gluten fiasco that I actually took the time to listen. To make larger quantities of cheaper food, they mess with the genetic structure of the plant. What’s even creepier is that these plants have been modified to survive pesticides used to kill all of the pests and weeds around them. (Oh good, I’m eating the survivor of the equivalent of a plant nuclear holocaust.) I’m not going to go all preachy here, but movies and comic books have always taught me that forcing mutations on a natural process leads to angry world-dominating chimps, supervillains and Kardashians. Personally, I want none of those running around in my digestive tract. They tell us GMOs are safe, but years ago doctors were smoking in hospitals and asbestos was used in housing insulation. So screw “their” opinions, I’m going with some common sense.
Whatever the cause of it, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, whatever-free eating costs more money. But when did we let “good” food become a luxury item at all? I don’t go to the gas station and fill my car up with Pepsi because it’s cheaper than gasoline, yet I used to grab the $1.99 loaf of bread at the grocery store and the store brand anything. Look, I’m a writer; I know money isn’t easy to come by. But perhaps instead of saving my pennies for the newest iPhone or spending it on candy and comic books, I can add those pennies to my food budget. Food was never meant to be so cheap; we’ve been tricked into thinking that $1.99 bread is normal. I’m not saying I’m ready to give up my gluten-filled fresh pasta yet, but I will stop complaining every time I have to spend two bucks more on something made with ingredients I can pronounce.
Kelly Nelsen is the author of the upcoming books “You Live in Vegas?!” and “Shakespeare for the Completely Uninterested.” She is usually rambling about something on her blog at KellyNelsen.com and can also be found on Facebook and Twitter @KellyNelsen.