Living in the wilderness a few good hours away from the major cities, means that every so often based on various needs I find myself being on the road travelling for 3-5 hour spans. Living the lifestyle of eating whole, natural, real and plant food only (with raw and organic as much as possible), I make a point of always being prepared to eat a meal at home and/or take our own food for the journey in the car.
The odd time however, based on different timing of travel, I have found myself in situations where it would have been ideal to pull over and grab something on the go. Now because I know what is served or sold in the average coffee shop or restaurant, this is never an option.
However, on a recent trip while getting gas I noticed a big sign at the bistro coffee shop next door advertising the newly available “Real Fruit Smoothies”, with an emphasis under the sign stating, “made from real fruit puree”. So I thought to myself, I know it is a really, really long shot, but I will go check it out. After all who knows, as our society continues to wake up and make true nutrition more of a priority, perhaps things are changing and real fruit smoothies will become the norm at coffee shops.
Thus I made the trek into a place that I normally will only enter to use the washrooms. The shelves of doughnuts and pastries before me actually made me look upon in amusement that we still look at these things as worthy of entering our bodies and waste our money on. Anyhow I walked up to the lady serving behind the counter and stated that I wanted to inquire about these “real fruit smoothies” and if she can tell me what the ingredients are. She explained that one can have a dairy or non-dairy variety. I said, “yes, thank you, but what else is in them, are they actually made with real fruit?” In her reply she handed me a big plastic bottle from across the counter and said, you can see all the ingredients here. I thought to myself with a little hint of sadness, “of course! real fruit comes from a bottle these days”.
The ingredient list started with the word “sugar”, followed by a few other sugars and ended with artificial colors and flavors. Yes, there was some mention of some fruit puree, but it was lost amidst the rest of the ingredients. I kindly said thank you very much and walked out.
What is Real Anyway?
I would love to say that the event described above is some exception or some isolated case, but it isn’t. This was not some lonely no-name coffee shop at the side of a highway either. It was a major chain found in numerous major cities that advertises having “healthy meal choices”. On top of that, this is not my first attempt to follow the trail of advertised “real fruit smoothies”. I have tried this with places that call themselves “Smoothie bars” or other restaurants that advertise fruit smoothies on their menu to no avail. At one sit-in restaurant as the waitress was naming the ingredients of the smoothie, I said “so you do have fresh fruit”, to which she replied “yes”. I said “wonderful, then can I please have those simply mixed with water, nothing else”. She looked at me with hesitation and uttered are you sure? I thought to myself, of course I am sure, why would I want to ruin fresh, delicious and nutritious fruit with sweeteners, fillers and artificial colors or flavors? I ended up getting my berry only smoothie greatly watered down, and then understood why she asked me if I was sure.
I can understand that some places cannot keep up with stocking fresh fruit from perhaps going bad, and thus must use frozen fruit. No problem, but at least have “real” fruit if you are going to insinuate a real fruit product. This is the biggest problem today, we have forgotten what real food is.
Real food is food that has come from nature, in its most natural form. This means fruit, real fruit, not fruit flavored, fruit enhanced, fruit roll-ups or fruit push-ups. (Just kidding about the last one.) But seriously I don’t care what the front of a box or carton says about it having some real ingredients, we need to get back to real food. I know some people today think this is impossible given our world population, transport and commercial needs, but I beg to differ. Everything is possible, if we choose it so. We have simply gotten too caught up in a system that serves financial needs, but not health needs.
If you want fruit, eat real fruit. If you want vegetables, eat real vegetables. Heck, for those of you who want meat, eat real meat. Packaged, processed, bottled, canned or boxed food items, are not real food. And since you have a “real” body, common sense would indicate to feed it that which it can recognize and most efficiently use to grow, heal and repair tissues, avoiding disease.
I know many people can start coming up with lots of exceptions or excuses for this idea, but I am only trying to remind us about what real food was. I know that most of us are so conditioned to seeing the packages in our grocery stores or meals in our restaurants as “food”, that you may think that what I am saying above is too strict, or just plain crazy. But unless we wake up to what our body really needs, and what real food truly is, yes, we may think nothing more of what I say above than some extreme health-nut rant.
The Modern Un-Real Food System
We get excited today by having strawberry flavored yogurts and blueberry flavored waffles. We think we are privileged to have jalapeño flavored rice crisps and cheese flavored crackers. We have accepted as normal to have drinks that beat out a box of crayons with their variety of bright colors and chicken flavored soups with no real chicken used.
We have accepted the un-real as real. We have bought into a food system that is making us sick on physical, mental and emotional levels. The rates of allergies continue to increase, with our children being most affected. And still we do nothing. We walk into the grocery stores, habitually fill our carts or grab take-out lunches and dinners, as we always claim we have no time. But we always have time for those things that matter to us. The average person has hours of time daily to watch TV, surf the Internet or talk on the phone. There is no reason why some of that cannot go to preparing whole, natural home-made meals. There are also choices about changing the quality of our life altogether. We simply need to get our priorities straight.
Of course if you have no problem being on medication or needing medical intervention, or suffering from various physical ailments that reduce the quality of your life, then none of what I say above applies to you. You can eat whatever you like. However for those of us who choose to live in this body for the course of our lives the way it was designed to live—in a state of perfect health, with a natural healing ability given the right support—then you need to see through the un-real food system and pick only that which truly supports and sustains the body for optimal function.
Every dollar you spend on food tells the industry what to produce more or less of. The more we support a real food system, the more we will get that, and the easier it will be for everyone to make real healthy choices.
While eating real food daily can be easy—it really all depends on our priorities and choices— what happens if there is really an emergency or a meal is desired on the road? If you have decided to make real food your priority and take your health into your own hands, you may be wondering the same thing. The best option and normally the safest one to not have to sacrifice your nutritional standards is a grocery store.
Today I know that if I find myself in any food needing scenario while on the road and away from home, I simply find the closest grocery store. There at least, I know that I can find real fruit and real vegetables, nuts, seeds and a few other decent food options to satisfy whatever need I have.
Remember, we always have a choice every step of the way. Just like you choose to walk into a fast food restaurant and contribute to the degradation of your health, while you support a corrupt food system, the same way you have a choice to prepare meals at home and nourish your body with real food, supporting a food system that works to keep you healthy. The key is simply to become conscious enough of these choices and choose what is most in alignment with the consequences you seek for a happy, healthy and peace-filled life.