The demands of life, juggling a career, family, friends and all the responsibilities of life can make it difficult to find healthy options for our meals. What does it mean to “be healthy” in the world we now live in – a world of processed foods and agribusiness? There is so much confusion around health and with good reason. The honest packaging, labeling, marketing, and food safety we rely on the FDA/USDA to enforce has, ironically, left us all scrambling to figure out what the truth actually is. If what these food agencies insist is a step towards improved food standards, then why is our country faced with such astronomical increases in health care costs due to an unprecedented rise in food-related illness, including obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol to list a few? The statistics and simple facts are staggering.

Here are just a few:
*1 in every 3 children in this country will end up with diabetes.
*1 in every 5 children will develop cholesterol issues before adulthood.
*30% of the children in our country are obese, with a 98% increase in obesity in children within the ages of 9-11, since 1960.
*The number of undernourished people in the world is going up, even though there is more food available.
*There has been an increase in childhood and adult type 2 diabetes. This number has doubled since the 1980’s. It is set to double again in the next 25 years as well as the cost of handling this growing epidemic.

Another interesting fact: There has been a decrease in the national level of physical activity since the 1980’s. This compounded with statistics that indicate an increase in food consumption due to a larger food supply being available at a cheaper cost has created a radical shift in our country’s overall health – and not in a good direction. These cheaper foods are nutrient poor and of little dietary value. Folks….We are basically eating expensive air!

Eating less is not simply a matter of willpower. We have all become victims of the marketing and laws which have made junk foods more accessible. Much of what has happened has to do with the deregulation laws that occurred in the mid-1970′s within the world of “marketing” (and I would like to point out here that this was mostly directed to products that were being marketed to children). During this time, the government urged the farmer’s to grow as much as they could. They subsidized this effort with our tax dollars and this increase in production created competition to sell these commodities on Wall Street. This meant that higher returns were demanded every 90 days, 4 times a year, and food commodities had to move on the market. Food companies responded to this pressure, dropped their prices, and this made larger quantities of food available for cheaper prices. Because larger portions were now available at a cheaper price, people started eating out more often and the beginning of the “all you can eat” buffets, and super-sized portions was born.

Eating well is a luxury now. Healthy, whole foods cost more because our government is not subsidizing the farmers’ trying to grow fresh foods. They are subsidizing the farmer’s that are producing processed, genetically modified, pesticide-ridden foods that can stand up to the demands of the “new” market and bring in the bigger buck . We have vending machines selling processed nutrient-poor foods to our children at schools, soda machines at every turn, and “meals”, not just snacks, available at gas stations. The overall result has been devastating to the health of our country, and not just on our waistline. Just look at the stats above.

Often I hear people say that they can’t afford to eat well. What they might not realize is that they can’t afford not to. In the end, we pay more with our compromised health, added medical costs, and our tax dollars going to keeping this cycle going. By not eating well, we choose to support the farmers that are polluting our soil, our water sources and depleting the forested areas to make way for more farms that provide us with sub-standard foods. Our choices and our dollar have the ability and power to affect change. Health is about quality. It is about providing our bodies with foods that will nourish us, not hurt us. We can all be a small part of a big change by simply choosing to do the right thing. You and your family are worth every penny!

Here are three small steps you can take to start eating ‘well’:

Start Gradually
Rather than making the switch totally to organic, begin by selecting only a few foods that appeal to you. Organic peaches, apples, strawberries, peppers, and sweet potatoes are a few good choices. Or, just start out with one fruit or vegetable in which you notice a remarkable difference in taste, just as organic mushrooms. Then ease your way into more organic foods. Another good rule of thumb is to notice what foods appeal to your kids. I tell “mom” clients, if your kids like a particular food, chances are you will too. What’s more, if you start your children off early eating organic foods, they’ll be more inclined to make healthier choices when they get older.

Join a Co-Op
Why not join a Co-Op or local farmer’s market? This way you can save money. Or, next time you’re at an organic restaurant, ask where they buy their food. Who knows? You just may be able to share on some of their orders.

Watch for Sales
Organic foods don’t always cost more than nonorganic ones. If you watch supermarket fliers, you can often find vegetables, such as organic broccoli for the same price as nonorganic. Shopping at a local farmers market, roadside stand or even “pick your own” are great options on a budget.

For more information on how to improve your health through nutrition, please visit

Author's Bio: 

Odette Worrell is a certified Holistic Health Counselor, certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), and founder of Organic Soul. Odette's work encompasses supporting and empowering individuals to regain their physical health, improve the quality of their lives, and reach their personal goals. Odette and Organic Soul offer newsletters, online health and self-growth classes, and one-on-one as well as group health counseling sessions (privately and online).