This morning I needed some more berries for my breakfasts this week. So, off to the store I went, and I picked up some strawberries and blackberries. I wanted some blueberries too, but they were all out. Fortunately, I have my backup bag of frozen blueberries in the refrigerator.
As I was checking out, the cashier remarked about there being a favorite children's cartoon figure on the package of berries, and she smirked about the food companies trying to make them appealing to children. Remembering what my daughter once said about taking strawberries into my grandchildren's school and there being children there who didn't even know what a strawberry was, I remarked to the cashier that it was a good thing to being marketing berries to children.
Well, excuse me, but apparently in her mind, it was not a good thing. Nor was it a good thing in the mind of the young lady bagging my groceries. Why? Well, it seems that their children like to eat berries as if they were candy, and that's much too expensive for them to have berries around the house. Better for the kids to munch on candy or chips when they get hungry than it is for them to munch on berries.
I was speechless but also understanding. I could have lectured them on the value of feeding their children nutritious foods like berries, but truthfully, that's not where the fault lies. I can imagine that if I were a single-parent mother working fulltime as a grocery store cashier or bagger to make ends meet, I might have the same feeling. I'm sure they want their children to be healthy, as all parents do, but in the reality of their every day lives, they have to make choices, and expensive berries are not going to be one of those choices.
The fault really lies in the system. That is the system that subsidizes the production of less healthy foods. What if we subsidized berries instead? What if we subsidized organic fruits and vegetables instead? What if we made those foods the norm instead of just the foods of choice for upper middle class people who can afford to pay extra for their food?
That can happen, but it requires a change in thinking. It requires ending subsidies that pay to grow unhealthy foods and instead directing subsidies to foods that are healthy for people to choose. It requires a food policy that emphasizes and encourages healthy eating.
Right now we don't have that, and that's our fault too. Those of us with the knowledge about food and its effects on our health have a duty to speak up for a food policy that turns this situation around. If we don't speak out, then we're at fault too. We need to ask political candidates about their feelings toward a food policy that encourages healthy eating for children and others and removes subsidies for unhealthy eating. And we need to vote accordingly.
Let's help out that single-parent mom who's working to support children on limited income. Don't blame her for not wanting to give her kids berries. Blame the system that's created that. And then speak out to change it.