No matter what angle you view your health from, Fruits and Veggies and Whole Grains are square in your line of sight. It seems that nary a week goes by that some scientific study or other isn’t recommending consumption of more Fresh Produce and Whole Grains to combat one health issue or another…
Yesterday, we showcased an effort by researchers in the U.S. to develop new recipes for school lunch chefs, recipes that will encourage kids to eat their Veggies. And we’ve been hearing, in a steady stream of reports from scientists and nutritionists, that eating more Produce and Whole Grains can be beneficial to the whole body. So why aren’t we eating more Veggies and Grains?
Yes, they are. But not as expensive as Meat. As Spring approaches, Cauliflower has hit the (C)$6 mark in my local supermarkets. Green Veggies like Lettuce, Cabbage and spinach have doubled in price, here, over what they cost last fall. When we can’t grow our own Produce here in the north due to winter conditions, our supply of most Veggies depends on the weather in places like California, Arizona and Mexico. And the ones we grow here in greenhouses are premium priced, two to three times the price of imports from the south.
They taste funny
Kids, especially, see Veggies are add-ons to meat-centric dishes. True, most of us were raised to regard Veggies as ‘side dishes’, not ‘mains’. For older folks my age, Veggies are regarded as high-water, low-substance, bland fare which need a lot of Salt to make them palatable. Root Veggies are often described as ‘musty’ or ‘woody’ tasting. At the most basic level, Veggies do not offer diners any Sugar, Salt or Fat of their own. Except, maybe, odd-ball items like Avocados, which strangely enough, are prized by diners. That’s probably because they have high levels of natural fats.
And the idea of Whole Grains runs contrary to the expectations of kids (who grow up with the same prejudices) who want only soft, snow-white, bland commercial bread on their Sandwiches.
Vegetable Proteins aren’t part of our culture
Many western diners do not consider Rice and Beans a main dish. But the combination provides you with a complete protein – no Meat required. And let’s not forget that Rice, in company with Lentils or other Pulses, provide complete proteins for vast numbers of people across Asia and Africa. Maybe we in the west, who bask in the so-called sunshine of plenty, should step back and see what we’ve been missing…
And maybe Whole Grain products need more positive marketing and promotion in our society. It’s definitely not a crime to have a little colour, texture and flavour in your baked goods and Breakfast bowls!
What can we do?
Yesterday’s bold (?) suggestion, that kids will eat more Veggies if they taste better, should be a lesson to us all. Even older folks of my acquaintance agree that some Herbs or Spices are never amiss when trying to tempt older palates which have become dulled by time.
We can add more Veggies and Whole Grains to our usual diets, just by ‘shopping fresh and substituting Whole Grain products for the usual, processed Grain ones. Think Pasta, Breads, Cereals and Side Dishes.
We can approach the widening of our dietary horizons creatively by considering them explorations of other cultures’ culinary traditions. If we find new foods we like along the way, all the better!
We can add Veggies to dishes which traditionally have not contained them. It’s as easy as stacking a couple of slices of Tomato and a handful of Lettuce on your Burger. Or stirring some grated Carrot into your Spaghetti Sauce. I vividly recall, when I was a kid and, later, a broke university student, eating Peanut Butter and Lettuce on Toast for Breakfast. A great flavour combo and lots of crunchy substance to sink your teeth into! Even now, I sometimes have PB&L as a snack, with lots of Lettuce and just a schmear of PB.
Overall, we can and should dedicate a larger proportion of our food budgets to Fruits, Veggies and Whole Grains. They’re expensive, but just as important if not more so than Meat to our collective well being.
Just do it!
And this morning, for breakfast, I’m going to have a wrap consisting of Tomato, Lettuce and a little Cheese to quench my ingrained craving for Fat and Salt. The more you think about ways to work more Veggies and Fruits into your diet, the more ideas you come up with!
~ Maggie J.