Skinny chickens, BPA, and the number 9 – on living with a health food fanatic

‘You probably shouldn’t eat that.’

Visibly irritated, I removed the large spoonful of Nutella from my mouth. ‘Why not?’

As if reciting from the latest edition of VegNews magazine, my mother responded, ‘It has palm oil in it, dear. That’s poison to your body! You wouldn’t drink a bottle of cyanide would you?’

With true hedonism and a tad bit of self loathing (see previous post), I swallowed a spoonful of Nutella and contemplated another. Staring at my now-empty spoon, I retorted, ‘I don’t eat this everyday. It’s not like I drink a Nalgene of liquefied Nutella every night. I think I’m going to be fine.’

‘Oh, but dear – speaking of Nalgene bottles, I don’t like using plastic because they have BPA. Dr. Oz says that causes cancer and birth defects. I threw away all of your lunch containers. Baby, we’re switching to Pyrex!’

Silence from me. I was busy examining the Nutella packaging. How do they make it look so creamy in the picture? Didn’t Kobe Bryant used to endorse this thing?

‘And by the way – I’ve been reading Alicia Silverstone’s new book, The Kind Diet. She says that the majority of our diet should consist of leafy greens and sea vegetables. Would you like a kale-miso-arame smoothie?’ She wiped green juice from the side of her mouth.

My mother has been on a health food kick since I was born and she had her hemorrhoids treatment. Maybe on more of a fad diet kick. At one point in time during the early 90s, she only ate carbs because the evening news said that there were harmful pesticides on vegetables, and our home became a haven for whole grain Amaranth crackers and sprouted wheat bread. When the Atkins craze hit, we subsisted on a diet of hard boiled eggs and not much else. Now, under the influence of Dr. Oz and now reputable dietitian Alicia Silverstone, the Wong household has gone all organic, all the time. Free range, wild, air chilled – you want it, our freezer has it.

One evening, we tried to trick my mom into thinking that the peaches we had bought her were organic. The organic white peaches cost $3.99/lb at Andronicos, while the pesticide drenched peaches were a mere $1.99/lb. Harmful acidic chemicals are invisible, and make food really affordable.

We brought the peaches home, fruit as plump and perfect as fat people who also happen to do squats. She’d never know. But then –

‘There aren’t organic. The numbers on the stickers start with a 7. All organic fruit is marked with a 9.’

Oh damn. And that was when we learned that my mother wasn’t messing around.

Yum! Organic!

Please don’t be mistaken, I really do believe in the benefits of organic, free range, and wild-raised food. For example, have you ever compared free range chickens with caged chickens pumped up with hormones?

Observation A: Free Range Chicken

This chicken looks like a skinny alien baby, as it should. There are no weird, yellow globs of fat hanging off the body, and there is far less fat underneath the skin than on a regular chicken. The body is longer than it is wide and is decidedly lean from running around in the wild. Well done, chicken.

Observation B: Tyson Chicken

The great thing about good ole Tyson is the price – $.99/lb, heyo! But, if you look closely, you’ll notice that this chicken is the poultry equivalent of Homer Simpson. Or, of Peter from Family Guy. Instead of running marathons and snacking on quinoa and wild berries, Homer the chicken is sitting on his Lazy Boy, drinking Natty Ice, and inhaling pork rinds. Plus, he shares his Lazy Boy with 10,000 other chickens who spread colds, skin eating bacteria, and other fun stuff, so he’s probably pumped up with antibiotics and other crazy drugs.

To put it in perspective, would you rather eat Lance Armstrong or Danny Devito?

Although I can mock it, I don’t hate the organic/plastic free/vegan/free range/etc. movement. I’m a fan, and have actually picked up a few tips from my newly vegan mother. After making a lazy, half-hearted effort to eat organic or free range over the last 4 years, I feel healthier, have tons more energy, and have even lost about 5 or so pounds without even trying (even if I do shove my face with Nutella every now and then). Maybe there is some truth to the madness. But please, no kale smoothies for me.

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