Conflicted

You think you have it down. You keep the countertop fruit basket and refrigerator crispers stocked. You’ve indoctrinated your kids to (usually) munch carrots and cucumbers and have a fondness for frozen grapes. Sure, you (occasionally) toss not-ideal granola bars into the backseat after school the way Shamu’s trainers toss herring — but isn’t it ideal to avoid a low-blood-sugar-induced meltdown? Those bars are a foil-wrapped concession that you ventured deep into the supermarket to procure, but they are completely devoid of anything really, really bad.

You know, because you read the box.

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And then you read Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.” You realize just how insidious the food world you inhabit really is. Reading labels isn’t the noble practice you thought it was because it means you’re as much under the spell of the reductive science of nutrition as all the other suckers inhabiting the Western world. You’re smack in the palms of food producers: The more you read labels and boxes, looking for health claims and the absence of no-no ingredients, the more reason they have to process more label-heavy foodstuffs (“Now with omega-3s!”).

You’ve been played. Swindled. And you thought you were being good.

Then, as you contemplate the newfound knowledge that all that time you spent up on your high horse you pretty much just had your head in the clouds, your husband walks in the door carrying this:

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Just as you’ve resolved to think twice before (occasionally) buying processed snacks that owe their existence to nutrition science, husband hauls in a bag of “robot food.” That is, scientifically engineered calories for athletes who must refuel on the fly (see, your husband’s a mountain biker who races several times a year and who happens to share office space with a company that plans bike races and triathalons and similar events).

You don’t neglect to note the irony that this supply entered your home in a trash bag.

You remain in your corner absorbing Pollan’s unscientific-but-logical brand of wisdom while your husband gears up for a ride by absorbing an ultra-scientific blend of crystalline fructose and super soy protein.

Is this what they call agreeing to disagree?

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