There is no perfect when it comes to eating. But there are stages toward better, more aware eating that I've identified. Here is where I sit….

Stages:

1. Complete, 100% ignorance. Here you will eat anything and you don’t care about health. You eat to satisfy taste and the cheaper the better.

2. Complete, 100% ignorance II. Here you also eat anything but you do care. Cheaper is only part of the issue--there is a large contingent in our country, as shown by Jamie Oliver in this video on obesity that do not connect obesity to the food they eat. It is out of sheer ignorance.  Not understanding the amount of sugar and chemicals in cheap food (i.e. fast food buns have sugar in them). This group, especially moms are concerned but they purchase the wrong stuff and their children suffer greatly.

3. Balanced diet. You'll pick a salad over a fast food burger but don’t understand the contents of the salad especially the dressing. You understand, from grade school, that there is a need for a balanced diet but nothing further. You still eat for taste without the knowledge of sugar and bad carbo load. You eat dessert, but only one. Cheaper is still better.

4. Knowledge vs Convenience. You understand organic options and will pay for organic vegetables and fruit and some grass feed beef as long as its in the store you are accustomed to shopping. Price is annoying but you will pay extra. You won’t opt for organic and go out of your way if it is not in your grocery store.

5. Specifically shop for healthy food. You go to farmers markets to buy healthy, local food. You may be part of a local CSA (farm delivering food). You are well educated in the food system and make choices for health. You can afford to eat all healthy food and understand you are part of moving the food system toward affordability for all consumers by spending dollars on healthy food, locally. However, you will go out to dinner and choose otherwise in order to not offend friends especially if invited to a friends' home that is serving cheap food (big box store steaks for instance).

6. True Leaders of Food. This group will bring their own food to dinner or only go to restaurants that serve organic, grass fed options. They are polite but won’t sacrifice their bodies for your friendship. Some are quiet about it and some are not! They know their farmers, buy direct and at farmer's markets, spend the money as needed and are willing to share their reasons. They model for the rest of us--walk the talk so to speak and again, some are non judgmental about it and other are in your face.

6 years ago, when I first read The Omnivores Dilemma, I was a 3. I knew I shouldn’t eat sugar and I should eat more greens. I didn’t eat fast food more than once a year (it was a birthday tradition, if you can believe that). 

Now I am a 5. If attending a persons home for dinner and they serve non-organic veggies I will eat them. If they serve regular meat I have a trick. I cut up the pieces, wait until no one is looking and put it on my husbands plate. Yes, I am pathetic. I don’t want to insult my host. I have actually fed dogs under the table to avoid eating meat that is not pasture raised (cats work, just cut the pieces smaller). When I can make it work I always offer to bring the meat.  Sometimes it just doesn’t work. What is odd to me is that I choose not to eat the meat because I care about the life of that animal.  I know how bad it is coming from a feedlot or CAFO (Confined Animal Factory Operation). My second reason is the health of the meat itself.

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