(I have awesome friends. One of my awesome friends recently had an experience he wanted to share on my blog. I am so excited to share this story. His message is so powerful. Enjoy )
Driving across several states this weekend I saw a LOT of billboards. Fast food restaurants, strip clubs, injury lawyers…classy stuff. But the one that got me thinking was not the one I would have predicted.
It was a billboard for Panera Bread. It simply said “Power Kale Caesar Salad” and had a picture of the salad, or maybe a just a bowl full of dark green kale, I can’t remember. It looked good either way.
I had a negative gut reaction to the billboard. Not because it promoted Kale, or Panera Bread, but because it used the word “power”. It was not unlike the feeling I get when I see a box of Lucky Charms with giant letters across the front proclaiming “A Whole Grain Food”.
But I love kale. I think it is a great thing to eat. Kale is NOT like Lucky Charms. So I had to think about this feeling of mine a little longer. Here is what I came up with:
Kale is not a power food.
In fact, not just kale, but all foods. None of them are supercharged, meal-boosting, magic bullets. The notion that a salad, with croutons, parmesan cheese, grilled chicken, and caesar dressing could be given a boost of POWER by tossing in a handful of kale leaves is foolishness.
Hyping up kale is attractive, especially when I consider that most people reject kale even before they think it has a magic effect on their body. Whatever it takes to make vegetables interesting, right?
But here’s the problem: if kale is a “power” food, what does that make all the other foods we eat? Normal. Benign. The blank canvas upon which a dab of power food can be applied when we feel like boosting our health.
Health is supposed to be the baseline.
What I have learned by pursuing a plant-based, vegan diet is that health should not be an upgrade to your life. Health is supposed to be the baseline.
Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are not enhancements to the human diet, they ARE the human diet.
The theoretical ULTIMATE diet for maximum awesomeness will simply result in…basic health. Health is supposed to be normal. A day where you eat nothing but colorful veggies and fruits is not a day where you pull ahead, its a day where you maintain normal.
Instead of looking for foods we can use to intermittently to propel us toward health, we should be wary of foods that detract from the health we were born with. We need to see how the donut we grab from the break room each day is slowly pulling us a little further from health. Or how the irresistible sprinkling of cheese on every meal we eat is holding us back, making our diet a little less than “normal”.
A more accurate billboard for kale could say “Normal Food!” But until all the billboards for hamburgers and milkshakes say “Surprisingly Harmful Meals!” perhaps “normal” is not a strong enough selling point.
Written by Alex Blanski
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