We’ve come a long way

Yesterday I had an unusually busy day at work.  I had a meeting in town in the morning, another meeting in the afternoon, and half a dozen errands to run as well.  I had planned to go home for lunch, but the morning meeting went longer than expected.  It didn’t make sense to drive home and drive back to town.  I decided to stop somewhere for a salad.

I wound up at Schlotzsky’s.  They had several salads on the menu – one of them was Kale Salad.  It was made with kale, cabbage, grilled chicken, egg, feta, pecans, tomato, and Italian seasoning.  I had olive oil in my car to use instead of a vinegary dressing.

The combination of flavors was amazing!  It was one of the best salads I have ever eaten.  The Italian seasoning sprinkled on top of the feta cheese and pecans was really good.

I sat in Schlotsky’s, thinking about how far healthy eating has come in the past 40 years.  I read my first book about nutrition in 1977.  When I ordered a salad at a restaurant back then, it was either a side salad or a chef salad with processed ham.  Both would have been made with iceberg lettuce.

At that time, you could not buy whole grain bread in the grocery store; the only place it was available was a health food store.  I bought crackers and cookies at the health food store as well – grocery store baked goods were all made with hydrogenated vegetable oil.  Everyone I knew boiled vegetables in a big pot of water with salt and sugar. Butter was viewed as dangerous, but margarine was healthy.  The government and the medical associations warned people against eating eggs.  There was no distinction between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.

Now I can go to virtually any fast food sandwich shop and get a salad with chicken or salmon.  Vegetables in restaurants are grilled.  Certainly there are plenty processed foods and foods made with bleached flour in the grocery store, but there are also whole grains and nitrate free deli meats.  It is not unusual at all to pick up a package or a bottle and read “no trans fats” or “no high fructose corn syrup.”

Not everyone chooses to eat healthy.  Way too many people exist on pizza, sandwiches, coffee and soda.  That’s ok.  I’m very much in favor of freedom.  But I’m happy that today I have choices too!  I don’t have to work nearly so hard to find food that is right for me.  We’ve come a long way in 40 years!

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