My food story begins in my 8th grade anatomy class. To this day, that remains my favorite class that I have ever taken throughout my schooling. I was fascinated by the human body and found myself reading about the subject during my free time as well. The material became so much easier because I was genuinely interested. When we got to the unit on the digestive system we watched Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, and I was in awe of the profound effect that food choices had on the body.
As I learned more about the importance of nutrition I realized that even the foods that I had always considered “healthy” were anything but. In my 10th grade health class we did a unit on nutrition and watched Food Inc. I’m sure everyone in this program is familiar with this eye-opening film. For the first time I really questioned where my food came from and if I should be eating it at all. Upon hearing the disturbing statistics about the growing rates of type II diabetes and obesity, I knew that I wanted to be part of the movement to combat these issues. I still loved learning about health and realized that jobs existed where I could help people be healthier and learn more about food systems. From that point on I have wanted to become a nutritionist.
I declared my major in Health Sciences as a freshman at Gettysburg College. I was able to take a nutrition course the following fall and since have not been able to look at food the same way. In most respects I am very thankful to have learned the truths about which foods are harmful and could potentially lead to life-threatening diseases. At the same time, there are some moments when I wish I were blissfully ignorant; for example, every time I’m offered a French fry. A student once asked our professor what the number one worst food choice was and unfortunately the French fry came out on top. Instead of enjoying the salty, deep-fried taste, I can’t help but ponder how much trans fat it contains and how it will affect my body.
Throughout my study of food systems this summer, I hope to gain a greater understanding of the implications of healthy eating. For example, I would like to investigate the financial feasibility and availability of eating a balanced diet. One of my biggest concerns is the unfair paradox that people of the lowest income simultaneously experience the highest rates of obesity and disease. Throughout history those statistics had been the exact opposite. Clearly the issue at hand is the changing types of food available in the United States. By the end of the summer, I would like to be able to say that I have a better idea of where America’s natural food comes from and how we can ensure that everyone can access it.