A Dinner of Guilt and Shame
September 2, 2013 • Food for Thought
I did something last weekend that I feel really guilty about, something that left me full of shame. Even as I was doing it, I knew it was wrong. But at the time, I wasn’t sure I had another choice. And so I joined the group and went for it, plunged in when I knew I shouldn’t. I ate dinner from a fast food restaurant. Now for many of you that might not seem like a problem. But for me it felt wrong on so many levels.For one thing, I am very involved with and a huge supporter of this organization: Cooking Matters. That’s the part of Share Our Strength that works to educate families on limited budgets about how they can eat healthy and how they can ensure they are feeding their families nutritious food. That pretty much means I advocate against fast food on a daily basis, as it’s generally the antithesis to this message.For another thing, I’m a big supporter of Slow Food. I advocate for eating local, eating seasonal, eating organic, eating real food. I’m am certain the chicken in my sandwich from the fast food joint wasn’t raised in Grand Junction, Colorado, and I’m equally sure the potatoes used for the fries weren’t organic. The “lettuce” in the sandwich (if you can call it that), tasted less than seasonal. And yet there I was, hunkered down in the back seat of the car, devouring the food.The other problem with fast food joints was clear to me the minute I entered the store: the huge value meal sign lit up above me revealed a long list of sub-par food that could be purchased for about a dollar. When so many in our country are suffering from food insecurity (that means they go hungry on a regular basis in case you don’t know the lingo), these fast food joints suck them in with these value menus, contributing to increasing health challenges in our country.So why did I do it? Well yes, I would really rather have had a nice big bowl of fresh spinach from my garden, just barely wilted with a dollop of organic butter. But we all find ourselves at times when we need to eat, regardless of what’s available. We had just come from Lake Powell and had done the grueling 3 hour job of pack up the houseboat, hauling everything up from the dock to the cars, loading up, and beginning our drive back to Denver. That means that by dinner time we had already been at it for 12 hours, and we were exhausted. Pulling off the highway outside of Grand Junction left us with two choices: a strange omelet stand in a gas station and Wendy’s – the group picked Wendy’s. I tried to order something reasonable: the grilled chicken sandwich without the sauce. When it took nearly 15 minutes to get the order, the manager explained to me “that’s because we make it fresh…well not really fresh, but we want to reheat it so that it’s not all dried out.” I’m not sure whether I felt good or bad about that explanation, I just knew I was starving and couldn’t eat any more potato chips or in the car (the only snack food that seemed to make inside of the car during our packing job). And so I did it. I ordered fast food. I ate it. I hated it. It left me feeling guilty, shameful, and frankly a bit nauseous. I hope I don’t have to do that again any time soon.
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