I work for a major telecommunications company in a building in New Haven, CT. We are not the only company that leases space there right on the water of Long Island sound but share it with investment and law firms and such. We also have the benefit of having a large cafeteria. Our cafe makes some pretty good food and some pretty bad food as is the case with most places that do that kind of mass production on a daily basis. However, they always have fresh cold cut sandwiches, grill options and a salad bar that is very well stocked with all kinds of add-ons. Basically it’s a pretty good place to go if you don’t bring your lunch every day or want to supplement what you have in your lunch box.
I usually take a walk down there once a day at least for lunch with some people in my group and we always find something to take back to our desks with us. This one particular day I had gone down myself just a little past lunch time to get a drink. On the way back up the elevator I rode with two girls who were about 100 lbs combined, had on stiletto heels, identical black suits (which I’m sure were purchased for a ridiculous amount of money), and about a pound of makeup. As they walked into the elevator I could hear them chatting about what they had eaten that day. Skinny Girl 1 – “I had greek yogurt this morning, with some strawberries but I wanted something a little bad for lunch”. Now, I’m with her til now, I’m a fan of yogurt and fruit in the AM for breakfast and have it pretty often. So imagine my surprise when they both walk in with containers the size of a CD case containing salad instead of the cheeseburger and fries I had expected. SALAD? THAT is “something a little bad”? I was shocked, and totally unprepared for the next sentence that came. Skinny Girl 2 – “I know! I was SO bad today, I got sunflower seeds on my salad!”. Followed by Skinny Girl 1 looking at her emaciated friend and saying thoughtfully “Oh I know, I totally just need to cheat sometimes.”. Thankfully the doors parted to my floor before I embarrassed myself by strangling them both. Exit the fat girl from the Twilight Zone.
So…here I am…trying to figure out when sunflower seeds became the new junk food, and why I didn’t get the memo. As I started thinking about it I got mad. Really mad. Where are we going in society when these two young girls, who obviously had to have some kind of brain between them to have a job in these companies, were spewing this nonsense from their mouths and totally believing it. They have been completely brain washed. I think that I do understand some things that brought us to this point. The percentages of obesity in our country is staggering and I understand the need to get healthy and get active. What I don’t understand is the movement to be stupid and scared.
I have been overweight my entire life. I know the struggles and I know exactly what I have to do in order to loose weight, but I also understand that I will never be a size 2, even if I go to the gym every day and eat midget sized salads. Some of our genes we just can’t escape. However, there are good and bad fats and our bodies need fat, no matter how you slice it. We need whole fruits and veggies, we need grains and lean meat, and we need fat. We also need to get off our butts and work out or do yoga or play with our kids. Whatever makes you sweat a little every day. But there is this whole clan of dumb women, and yes, I’m putting it right out there that it is mostly women, who have no idea what is good or bad for them, and are scared to death to gain a single pound more than their high school weight. It’s sad, it’s ridiculous, and it pisses me off. In this age of chemicals, fake sugars and saturated fat you have to be able to sort through the bull shit and eat real food. You can not be afraid of sunflower seeds.
As I have gotten older I have cared less and less that I’m not going to wear a bikini at the beach this year and cared more and more about feeding people who have no food at all. I think this is also part of why I was so angry. There are so many people who wake up every morning and have no food to eat and have no idea if they will get some anytime soon. When you are faced head on with people who need food and have no place else to go but a soup kitchen, you become a little more grateful for the fact that you can make the choice to have those sunflower seeds. These unfortunate people are grateful that you are providing them that fattening bacon for breakfast, which might be the only thing they eat all day. They are not counting the calories. They are amazed by the generosity of people who are willing and able to give, and would be happy to put on a few pounds. To them, a few pounds means healthy. It means you have a warm place to sleep and a paycheck that gets you food in your fridge and clothes on your kids. A few pounds to them means hope.
Right now, the church that I am a member of has a group of 17 missionaries in Biloxi, Mississippi for one week to continue the efforts there to help people who have suffered from Hurricane Katrina. Yes, Katrina, that storm that happened in 2005 that nobody really talks about anymore. There are still so many families living in trailers who need food and shelter and water, every day. These missionaries are helping people, who have been displaced for so long, come into a home. As they are there painting and rebuilding homes, they are also spending some time in the local food pantry and brought with them some non-perishable items and some funds to replenish the shelves. There is so much need it is sobering and they are doing what they can.
I am so proud to be a member of a community who has that kind of love for their fellow human beings. I’m honored to call many of these people my friends and I cannot wait to hear about all the things they have seen and done. But mostly I am happy that we have the ability to help. We CAN send food, and we CAN send money. Donate to your local food pantry or homeless shelter (Here is a list of food banks across the country http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx). If you have never done it, go out of your comfort zone and serve a meal to someone who needs it. Look into their eyes and talk to them. Really talk to them, and listen to their story. You will find that they are very much like you and I and especially in this economy, they need a hand there to hold. You can make a difference in their day and maybe their life. Food brings people together, it always has, and in this world of skinny jeans and sunflower seeds it still will.