Our supermarkets provide a variety of food that is simply astonishing to those who come from countries where there are no such markets. I was reminded of this once when I was talking to one of our mothers from Poland. When we began to talk about fresh vegetables, mother’s face grew long. When I asked what was available at that time in Poland, she said there were only two fresh vegetables that they could get regularly: carrots and onions. There was no hope of any green leafy vegetables. There were no frozen vegetables, which left only canned produce. I asked her whether she had visited a supermarket during her stay in Philadelphia, and she began to tell me about a recent trip she and her family had made to one. It was rather like hearing someone describe Disney World. The image of pounds and pounds of fresh strawberries still haunted her.
We Americans must surely be the luckiest people on earth when it comes to food. The United States can grow just about anything and deliver it just about anywhere.
We should be the healthiest people in the world.
The sad fact is we are not.
We are not only the fattest nation on earth, but we are arguably the least healthy nation in the industrialized world.
One of our problems is that we have long since discarded the notion of food as fuel. Instead we think of food as a form of entertainment. We often use food to celebrate a special event or as a reward when we have done something particularly well. We use food to comfort ourselves when something goes wrong.