Who’s Crazy?

Going into a grocery store always makes me judgmental.

Yesterday we had to go into one to get a few items.  As usual, I saw carts full of sugary, fatty, salty processed food, being pushed by people who were obese and obviously unhealthy. Many of them looked liked medical disasters underway or waiting to happen.

My reaction is always the same.  Are these people crazy?  I mean literally. Are they mentally ill?  Are they blind to the fact that they’re being poisoned by the stuff they eat? Don’t they see that it’s ruining their health?

When insane behavior is the norm, then behaving reasonably looks weird.

It is folks like us who our culture  thinks are a little crazy, not the obese people pushing shopping carts full of junk food.

Our culture’s addiction to over-consumption manifests itself it other ways as well.

We live in the wealthiest society the world has ever known, by far, yet few of us live within our means.  As a whole we’re burdened with debt, from the government to the individual. Our economic system is founded on debt.  Not everyone is in debt for bad reasons, and some temporary debt is not necessarily a bad thing.  But many in our culture are in debt as a result of pursuing instant gratification, keeping up with the Joneses and allowing themselves to be manipulated by the cultural pressures to borrow and spend.  As someone once put it, we spend money we don’t have, to buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like.

The corporations that manufacture and sell all the stuff we’re buying aren’t interested in nourishing our bodies or keeping us financially sound–their only interest is profits.  Legally that’s the only legitimate interest of a corporation–to maximize shareholder profits.  It’s up to us to exercise good judgment when making food choices and determining how and when to spend money.

That’s hard to do in this culture, of course.  We are subjected to relentless messages designed to make us unhappy and discontent.  We’re told in countless ways that more stuff will make us happy.  We’re allowed and encouraged to buy it now and pay for it later.  And so we end up enslaved to the system, as we’re required to work jobs we hate in order to pay back the money we borrowed to buy stuff we didn’t need.

Yet all we have to do is refuse.  At first it may be hard to muster the self-control and discipline to resist the pressure to buy the stuff and eat the junk.  But it doesn’t take long to get used to saying no.  Then soon those who were once herded around with the other sheep will step away from the flock, and look back on them, wondering why they can’t see it too.

For now, it is the folks who are ruining their health with processed food and spending borrowed money to buy stuff they don’t need that are the norm. Those who choose a debt-free life of voluntary simplicity and who choose to eat only whole natural foods are considered weird.

That’s just crazy.

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12 comments on “Who’s Crazy?

  1. jubilare says:

    I find it more sad than anything. We move in a world of addicts, and addiction is hard to kick even when you know it is killing you. What is even harder is trying to eat healthy when you are working three jobs…

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    • Bill says:

      True and it’s hard to write about a subject like this without sounding judgmental. But I do feel called to be an advocate on this subject and I struggle with how best to do that. I experienced the reality of what you’re saying during the summer when my wife was gone and I had to do all the farm work and all the cooking. I’d work until dark then come in dead tired–too tired to cook. I found myself having suppers of crackers or anything else available that was easy. Soon I realized I was being a hypocrite so I started making my suppers during my lunch break. In response to a portion of this someone posted on facebook today that eating healthy doesn’t mean every meal has to be cooked and have multiple items in it. She suggested a loaf of wheat bread (freshly baked $3-4), some good cheese (about $6) and fruit (local apples are about 3-4 for $1 around here). That would make several meals, without any cooking and at a cost less than going through a drive thru. Of course I know the reality is that sometimes we just have to eat on the run and when we do we often make compromises. But it’s only in the past few decades that fast food restaurants have become so common.

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      • jubilare says:

        It’s true. Eating well takes planning, though, and planning does take time. Add that to having developed a taste for things that are bad for us, and what an uphill battle this is for most people!

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  2. Self control and discipline…to get used to saying no. So simple and so hard. Been there. Nearly all of us want there to be some external fix to our problems, something that doesn’t require self-control and discipline, but those fixes never really work. And motivation is key. Without sufficient motivation, no one can exercise the self control to resist long formed habits. Which is probably why so many of us wait for a medical crisis to do something about our health, even when we’ve known for ages that we weren’t healthy and the solution was to change our diet and exercise patterns. I have pretty good self control, and still don’t say no very well to chocolate…

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    • Bill says:

      We have a friend who works in a health food store. People with health problems resulting from poor food choices will often come in seeking advice. When she starts counseling them on their diet, they’re often taken aback. “Don’t you just have some kind of pill you can give me?” is the sort of response she often hears.

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  3. DM says:

    didn’t think you’d mind, I reposted this one on my facebook page this morning 😉 DM

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    • Bill says:

      That’s fine by me. Feel free to spread the message, but expect it to not be well received. My facebook status today is: “We live in a culture where spending borrowed money to buy stuff we don’t need, and ruining our health with a diet of processed food, is considered normal. Living a life of voluntary simplicity and eating a diet of whole natural foods is considered weird.” It’s gotten a few responses, but has been met mostly with silence (I can almost feel the snorts, rolling eyes and shaking heads). Now if I had posted “Down with Obama,” “The Tea Party sucks,” or something like that, my page would be lit up with comments and likes.
      By the way, I do plan to respond to your blog post. I’ve been trying to remember if I did a post that went through the history of my decision/journey. I’ll be over to weigh in soon.

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  4. It never ceases to amaze me that fat people are always eating something whilst pushing their trolley which is as you say packed full of all the wrong things. Very sad to say the least.
    If they just took out the processed food, they would be taking a big step in the right direction.
    🙂 Mandy

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    • Bill says:

      So true Mandy. It’s the processed food (combined with inactivity) that is wrecking their health. I try to emphasize to people that eating nutritious foods does not mean you have to eat food that isn’t tasty. In fact, once a person gets used to good food they won’t want the processed foods anymore. But unfortunately way too many people believe only junk food tastes good. So they sacrifice their health to have it.

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  5. EllaDee says:

    People aren’t crazy, they’ve just been sold a crock by the Big Food Co’s and the goverment.
    Your thoughts that your message will not be received is interesting. Will food reformists/ the slow food movement etc become the witches, pagans of the modern world, condemned for living their lives as they see fit and speaking out with the best of intentions vilified by those who have vested opposing interets.

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    • Bill says:

      You’re right. The Industrial Food Complex spends billions every year in advertising to convince people to buy and eat their so-called “food.” People who are otherwise perfectly sane see nothing wrong with exchanging their money for “food” that will destroy their health. It’s sad.
      I like your analogy. But I choose to be optimistic that our movement will win and what we’re experiencing now is only temporary insanity.

      🙂

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