Lunchtime yesterday, I was migrating Whole Foods’ narrow grocery aisles, willfully pursuing my target: dinner for the next 4 nights, when two destructive toddlers and an oversized, drivable shopping cart forced me to take a detour. Realizing I was suddenly off course and that my ultimate mission was at risk, I took the quickest shortcut I knew possible. The supplement aisle. Long story short, I got stuck, distracted, sidetracked, lost sight of my task all together, and started composing my next article. In my head.
Long story long, here’s what I wrote in my head:
There were 3 middle-aged, middle-sized women perusing the wide variety of “do it yourself” supplements Whole Foods has to offer. Seeing as this is a very serious moment in all of our lives (supplement perusing), the 3 women, entirely unaware of their surroundings and the fact that I was on a mission, were taking over the yard’s length that Aisle 2 (Supplements) consisted of. And rather than passive-aggressively accidentally nudging one of their achilles tendons with my shopping cart, forcing a clear pathway, I decided to pretend to also peruse the supplements and do what I do best: eavesdrop.
One of the women (the most middle-aged and most middle-sized) played the role of Dr., the other slightly taller woman played the role of patient, and the last woman mimicked the lost, disheveled, anxiety-stricken victim who never uttered a single word. And whom I’m assuming was experiencing her very first trip to Whole Foods.
Okay, so just to keep you up to speed: we have Dr, patient, victim, and eavesdropper.
As I, eavesdropper, approached the folic acid layout, the Dr. was explaining to the patient that vitamins A, B, C, W, X, and Z were good for the heart and “cleansing out the system.” Patient then contradicted that her heart condition seemed just fine and her “system” didn’t need any cleansing. However, Dr. further encouraged Patient to purchase the supplements regardless as eventually her heart would fail and her system probably definitely does need cleansing. So she may as well start taking the vitamins now. “Just in case.” It was at this moment that Victim, all the while listening anxiously to the supplement lingo, noticed my growing smirk and elbowed Dr. with a simultaneous head nod in my direction. Leave it to Victim to always blow covers.
“Do you know anything about heart vitamins?” Patient asked Eavesdropper.
“Oh, no, I was just on my way to the meat section.”
“Oh heavens, darling, are we in your way?”
No, you’re just literally taking up the entire aisle and some of the next.
“Absolutely not! I’ll just back up and go around. Thank you, though!”
Eavesdropper is such a pushover. But at least a passive aggressive one.
What I really wanted to tell the 3 women was this:
Your health is only as applicable as your physiology allows it to be. In a less candid explanation, if you’re on a daily diet of processed foods, red dye #4, yellow dye #123, vodka, cheesecake, and doritos, then the best supplement in the world won’t fix the smallest of problems.
So, really, what America should be doing, rather than perusing the highly marketed, highly schemed supplement aisle and lecturing one another on which packaged vitamin affects which organ, is stand in front of the grassfed beef glass casing while informing peers about how saturated fats enable a healthy heart, terminate stress reactions in the body and decrease signs of early onset aging. Or position yourself in the refrigerated dairy department and sing about the NATURAL vitamins A and D contained in butter and it’s effect on hormone regulation. Or linger in front of the tropical fruits section while explaining to your significant other that the sugar in fruit encourages optimal energy production at a cellular level, feeds the metabolism, thus supporting immunity and a decreased risk of cancer.
Huh? What? What supplements?
The point is, we can achieve vital health from the appropriate (and intelligent) application of food. It’s as simple as that. Nothing else. Just Food. Or at the very least, as a first attempt. It’s what our grandparents did, it’s what our ancestors did, it’s what we should do.
Afterall, the supplement aisle is literally the SMALLEST aisle in Whole Foods, so spare yourself some leg room. The meat section is quite airy and spacious.