Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Putting The CNN Article In Perspective

I had to give a lot of thought to whether or not I wanted to post on the CNN article for which I was interviewed. I was interviewed by Madison Park via phone regarding my participation in Nourished Kitchen's 28-Day Real Food Challenge. We talked for a long time about a range of subjects. So I was a little surprised to see that what she took from that conversation was essentially a Homeresque "Doh!" moment. Only a little surprised, though, because I knew going in that I was talking to The Media and that meant the rules were: 1) The Media can write whatever it wants, and 2)... well, no, maybe there's just that one rule.

Maybe it's because my training is in the Social Sciences, but I was disappointed that Park's article didn't delve a little further into why people were willing to go to the trouble to attempt this challenge. While it is true that the participants didn't know, going in, the depth to which we would be challenged (toss everything processed the first day?), it is interesting that so many signed on. And it's telling how many dropped out over time. Further, I would be willing to wager that nearly everyone, and quite possibly everyone, who finished the challenge "cheated" in some way. But why did they sign up in the first place?

I can only answer specifically for myself. But I suspect that many of the participants had become suspicious of the American food system. Movies like Food Inc. and authors such as Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver influenced more than a few participants. Some people were hoping for better health through better eating. And some people were motivated by a combination of factors. I fall into the last category.

For me, there are a number of factors. But one of them is my quest to see if I can manage rheumatoid arthritis with diet instead of drugs. It's only been a month, so I don't have an answer to that question yet. But so far, so good. And even if I ultimately go back on the RA meds, I have already learned a few things. I have learned that I have sensitivities to certain common food additives. And that one of the symptoms I experience when I eat "tainted" foods is an RA flare. I've also learned that cutting out processed foods for the past month improved my breathing, which is particularly interesting to me because I was not previously aware I was experiencing breathing trouble.

I'm all about moderation in life. I don't see myself ever completely giving up all processed foods. I might try making homemade pasta sometime; but I'll keep the whole wheat stuff in the cabinet. I don't grind my own flour. I would love to try that, but a grinder is not in my budget. So I buy whole grain flour. I didn't give up my morning coffee, although I did give up the sugar I added to it (most days).

For me, the shift to a new way of eating is a permanent commitment I have made, but the 28-Day Real Food Challenge wasn't. It was a challenge. It was an opportunity for participants to test themselves. No long-term commitment required. This seems to be an idea lost on some of those who entered comments at the CNN site. I suppose I studied the social sciences because it is the study of that which I least understand: why people do the goofy things they do. I can rationalize in my mind trying out a different way of eating for a month. But I can't rationalize anonymously entering biting criticisms of strangers on a website read worldwide, especially regarding matters of personal diet. How sad a life it must be to fill one's time with that. Let me suggest a different activity: take a good hard look at your own life, determine where improvement can be made, and take a step in that direction. Consider it a challenge.


  1. I'm always shocked at what parts of an interview the media tend to put into their articles. I get interviewed a lot for work (I run a couple programs at the local college). I like your perspective - it was exactly what it was: a challenge.

  2. Shelly, Thanks for your comment. I feel like the media should have an oath along the lines of the Hippocratic Oath whereby they promise to report not only the literal facts of a matter, but also in keeping with the essence of the matter.