Is Healthy Food Elitist?

“remember to only shop the perimeter of the grocery stores for ur holiday food…evil lurks in the center aisles”

A few weeks ago, Iron Chef Michael Symon sent out a little Tweet about shopping the perimeter of a grocery and avoiding the center aisles (where the most processed foods were). He got a ton of responses, calling him elitist among other things.

Was his comment elitist? Many thought so. In response to his critics, he put out a video here.

It’s worth reading some of the comments that were posted following the post of his video response.

My two cents: I think he’s right on and I don’t see what was so offensive about his original Tweet. Whole foods tend to be located along the parameter of a store, and these foods generally are going to be better for you than some packaged food located on what of the selves in the center aisle.

Some of his critics seemed to have gotten huffy over him encouraging people to cook with whole foods like grains, fruits and vegetables and ignoring the fact that some people can only afford the cheaper prepared meal (say, a can of Spaghetti-O’s for dinner). They also seem to be angered by his encouragement to buy local foods whenever possible.

As many of his defenders pointed out, there are programs to help impoverished people buy local fruits and vegetables, but not everyone is taking advantage of them. They also point out that there are many easy ways to prepare a cheap, wholesome meal (and have leftovers) that don’t include buying something packaged. One responder said it’s pretty darn easy to throw a whole chicken, some carrots, potatoes and rosemary into an oven to roast, and I couldn’t agree more.

Do you have any tips for healthy and cheap eating?


About kareiner

I'm an active mom who loves to cook. I'm passionate about health and fitness. I'm no expert, nutritionist, personal trainer or miracle worker. I just like being active and I like good food.
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4 Responses to Is Healthy Food Elitist?

  1. Lauren H. says:

    I agree with shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, but I completely understand that some people have a budget they need to stretch so sometimes buying in the center aisles is necessary. However, the excuse to buy say, Spaghetti O’s, because it’s cheaper is a bunch of baloney! How about a package of Whole Wheat pasta and a couple cans of diced tomatoes? A little bit healthier and much cheaper.

  2. Kevin Reiner says:

    I’m not sure if buying the fresh and local stuff is all that more expensive than buying the processed versions. But even if it is, my mentality is that hopefully we’ll recoup those expenses by having fewer medical bills plus a higher quality of life. My opinion is that for a lot of people it is a time constraint issue rather than a monetary problem. If someone is working long hours and then has to take care of their kids when they get home, they want something quick and simple. However, I think Michael Symon is being called an elitist unfairly. As a country we need to rethink our food structure and educate our kids on what good food is and to have a greater respect for food. Its a big problem, but I am glad to see a lot of public discourse on it lately. Doesn’t need to be nasty discourse though.

  3. Tisha Temple says:

    A little over 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease and put on a strict diet. No tobacco, little to no caffeine, limited alcohol, and very low sodium. Now, when they said very low sodium, I was imagining next to nothing. Not at all. They just said I needed to eat between 1000 and 2000 mgs a day. Now, with the dietary guidelines suggesting that we eat under 2300mgs of sodium a day, I figured…how hard could that be?

    Just stroll into your local grocery store and check out how much sodium is in one serving of those spaghetti-o’s or the jarred pasta sauce. Look at the microwavable meals and the frozen foods, the bread and the crackers. Then try to put together 3 meals a day that is under 2300 mgs.

    It’s frightening to see how much sodium Americans consume on a daily basis. Statistics show that many Americans eat between 4000 and 6000 mgs of salt a day (mostly from eating out at restaurants). I’m not saying that you should avoid everything in the middle of the store, but there is so much lurking in those aisles that is literally poisoning us. Where do people think high blood pressure comes from? Heart disease? So many diseases out there can be avoided or minimized with proper nutrition.

    I’ve started making my own tomato sauce. It takes 30 minutes to cook, and you don’t have to watch it. Just take a cake pan, fill it with fresh tomato chunks (or cherry tomatoes), pour on a bit of olive oil, spinkle liberally with granulated garlic and oregano and bake at 350-425 for 30 minutes. Take it out, pour it into a blender and blend. How hard is that? Make a bunch and freeze it. Running low on time for dinner? Boil up Angel Hair pasta (4-6 minutes), defrost some of the sauce in the microwave or stove, and grate some fresh cheese on top. That takes less than 10 minutes.

    I don’t think everyone should follow my example, but they should start paying more attention to what they’re putting into their bodies. I have to, but if you start paying attention to it now…maybe you won’t have to get on those HBP pills down the road.

    I hope someday soon sodium will be the new trans-fat (or carbs or whatever else the latest health fad targets) that everyone talks about, and more attention will be paid to the sodium content of foods. Until then, I’m sticking to the perimeter of the store for my shopping. Michael Symon’s exactly right.

    That’s all.

  4. Tisha Temple says:

    Stepping off my soapbox now. 🙂

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