Is Trying Enough?

May 21, 2009

When visiting DC with my family we found ourselves browsing around the Museum of Natural History at lunch time. I typically don’t prefer cafes connected to large tourist attractions, but unfortunately the café in the museum was our only option in the area so we ate there.
As we entered the line to go in, I was greeted by some running TV screens which stated that the cafeteria used locally grown ingredients. When we got inside I noticed that they were selling organic fruit. Although I don’t consider organic the end all and be all when it comes to my produce selection, and the price was pretty hefty, I did take the offering as a good sign.

Then we got to the drink station. Hello Coke! There was water available under the lemonade (although I’d paid almost $3 for the cup) and some unsweetened iced tea (not brewed) in the fountain so at least there were a couple options.
I complained to my family how frustrating it is that establishments boast about local and organic and yet sell out to soda companies. After my venting, I started to think about why this upset me so much.
Well, we talked a week or so ago about how in-your-face soda is, so that was one thing. The other thing was that they seemed to be proud of their healthy, environmentally friendly food practices, but ignored that when it came to beverages. Then I came back to the thought – Well, at least they are trying.
This then brought me to the question – Is trying enough?
I ask myself this question often when it comes to my food choices. I’m definitely changing – making more environmentally friendly choices, increasing my awareness about where my food comes from and what processes it goes through, and eliminating fake foods from my diet.

I am far from perfect, however. Although, I’m getting closer I doubt I will ever get to the point where every piece of beef I put in my mouth is grass fed and every piece of produce I consume is grown under ideal farming practices. I do see stopping at a famous or historic, local burger joint during my travels in my future from time to time.
It is easy to blame some of this on our society. In order for everyone to make these changes our society and the foods we are offered, say, when we are out to eat need to change too. I take full responsibility for my own actions, but if there is no place around when you are traveling that sells the good stuff you are used to buying at home you are kind of out of luck. While you certainly don’t have to eat fast food, there are times you are forced to make exceptions.
So then I consider if I feel that trying is enough for me, why do I feel the need to be so critical of eating establishments who are not perfect, but trying as well? That doesn’t seem fair.
I’m not always this critical. Usually if there is a healthy option I’m happy. However, as my knowledge grows and I strive to change my diet I find the temptation to be overly critical grows stronger as well.
Despite my attempts to give myself and the places I eat a break, I still wonder if trying is enough. In some cases I think it is. Small changes by many people can make a huge difference. However, if we always use little excuses like – well, I really like that even though it is a fake food or I’m too busy to make my own food – then we aren’t facilitating the changes that need to happen as a society which will result in the consumption of more nourishing, whole foods that we can get anywhere and everywhere.
So right now, I do think trying is enough, but long-term I wonder if I’ll ever reach perfection in this area or if that is even what I’m striving for.
Do you think trying is enough?

You Might Also Like

  • Maria May 21, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Great post. I do think trying is enough or at least it is a start. Every little bit helps!

  • 5 Star Foodie May 21, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Trying is at least a start. We always have lunch at the cafeteria at the American Indian museum – that’s the best food at the Smithsonian mall, really authentic Native American food, and although we always just drink water I do believe they have better beverage choices as well.

  • Emily May 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I agree (of course)! Kind of like having deep-fryers at “healthy restaurants”.

  • Alison May 21, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I think the benefit of “trying” is that it at least gets healthier choices into the forefront of people’s minds.

  • lesley May 21, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I don’t know if trying is enough but it’s better than nothing! I’m always glad if a restaurant has healthy, “real” good options.

  • Erica May 21, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I think its wonderful that they offer something organic/healthy. In locations like that, they have to appeal to the masses and that means having something for everyone- organic produce and soda! You can’t force everyone to want to do the “right” thing in terms of food all the time (in fact I think its more than healthy to be naughty every once in a while and i Know you do too!)

  • The Happy Runner May 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Very interesting topic. I guess trying is better than not trying…it would be better if it was easier (for everyone!), though.

  • Chow and Chatter May 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    good post though provoking

  • Reeni♥ May 21, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    I think the soda offered is purely to make money on. 3$ is a lot for a cup of soda, even if people re-fill. I bet 3/4 of that is profit for the restaurant. Yes their trying but when it comes right down to it money rules.

  • Emily May 21, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I think trying is enough, at least as a start. Yes, ideally we would all live totally sustainable lives, but that’s not realistic for most of us. I mean, I’d guess that neither you nor I is about to give up airline travel, even though that’s probably the most polluting thing either of us does! But at least we can try to make “better” choices when it’s more convenient for us. It’s the same thing with food. You could argue that it shouldn’t be about convenience, and you might technically be right, but I think that to be realistic you can’t expect people to completely inconvenience themselves. Once you get used to your initial “tries,” hopefully it won’t seem inconvenient to add more good choices, even if there are some things that never change.

  • Amy May 21, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    For me it’s all about baby steps in the right direction. However, I do agree that for places that boast about a certain thing it’s weird to see them carrying things that totally don’t align. Maybe there’s a different qualification for establishments than for people?

  • Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen) May 22, 2009 at 6:25 am

    I would say that trying is better than not trying. But what frustrates me to no end is when companies/restaurants/stores etc market themselves as local or green or organic or natural or whatever the key term is of the day as a marketing ploy to get people inside. What happens then is that people less educated around these four concepts and who are genuinely trying, are only further confused and misdirected.

  • kat May 22, 2009 at 6:51 am

    I think we have to remember that cafes like that also have to carry things people who visit want or they won’t exist. Can you imagine the uproar if they had no soda. I think what they need to do is offer more drink choices though (as someone who doesn’t drink soda its always frustrating to me too). I’ve seen more & more of those type of cafes moving to local foods & organic foods & that seems like a bit step to me.

  • Lori May 22, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks for all the great comments. I love hearing from you!

    Maria – Absolutely! A little is better than none at all.

    5 Star – So glad to know about that place. We didn’t make it there, but authentic Native American cuisine would have been exciting. I’ll have to go next time. 🙂

    Emily – Yeah, it kind of doesn’t add up does it.

    Alison – Great point. Awarness is certainly a huge part.

    lesley – Great way to look at it. I agree.

    Erica – Good point and yes I am all for indulgence. 🙂

    Happy Runner – Yeah, I know what you mean. Sometimes it is difficult to make a decision we know is best for us.

    Chow and Chatter – Great! Glad I could get you thinking. 🙂

    Reeni – Oh, yes, the almighty dollar. Sadly it almost always comes down to that. It’s really too bad. I wish wellbeing had a higher status.

    Emily – That’s a good point. There has to be a place to start and for many that may be enough. I know what you mean about the travel. I got blasted on my expat blog about how much traveling I do, but that is never going to stop. I just do what I can in other ways.

    Amy – Yeah, I’m always a bit confused by those non-aligning things too. Sometimes things don’t seem to fit. I totally agree about the baby steps. I think that is how we make our changes more permanent.

    Meghan – Oh yes, for sure. There is something big to be said for trying in the first place. And oh how I share your frustrations!

    kat – I’ve seen a bit of that trend too and love it as I’m sure most of us healthy foodies do. Definitely a big step in the right direction.

  • Tangled Noodle May 22, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    For myself and my own actions, I feel that I need less ‘trying’ and more ‘doing’. When I console myself that I ‘tried’ to eat healthy or work out hard, I’m giving myself a pass not to make an extra effort.

    But in the greater society, it’s a tough call. Food companies who tout their green efforts usually do so in response to demand so it’s heartening to know that there are enough people who are concerned about healthy eating that the industry is taking note and acting on it.

    As many comments have noted here, it is a start – keep in mind that issues of food safety, sourcing, obesity, etc. have only been at the forefront of discussion for a short time but the fact that organic, local and sustainable are words found at large, mainstream groceries is a sign of great and positive progress.

  • Sapuche May 23, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    As consumers, it’s a fact of life that we’re often faced with limited choices. Being conscious of those choices, and aiming to reduce our environmental impact, is important – I think it’s partly behind the present “food revolution” that we often read about. The business you mentioned definitely seems to be trying, but most places like that have little interest in losing out on the profits that sodas offer them.

    In the end, as others have said, I think that trying is a good start – but there’s always room to improve. Hopefully in another few years you’ll look back on this post and be amazed at how much better your choices are. As a society, I think we’re heading in the right direction. Your statement that “[s]mall changes by many people can make a huge difference” seems spot-on to me. Great post!

  • healthy ashley May 25, 2009 at 4:15 am

    I definitely think trying is enough. It’s all about balance and since we can’t consume ourselves with being perfect, trying is pretty darn good!

    I think it’d be easy fr you to be tougher on restaurants and companies just because you know so much about how to be healthy and environment-friendly!

  • Lori May 26, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Tangled Noodle – I am with you on this one. I think that is a bit of what I was trying to get at with this post. I often feel I need to do more “doing.” 🙂

    Sapuche – Great point. I do hope I can look back in a few years and recognize a lot of positive changes!

    healthy ashley – Often I feel like I am just like everyone else when it comes to food and nutrition, but you are probably right. We tend to be the most analytical and critical when it comes to something we know. Perfection is a tough thing. You can strive for it, but that can be dangerous in certain situations.

  • Delightfully Healthy May 27, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Great topic. I agree that the restaurant, which is a for-profit entity, after all, needs to appeal to most people. But the fact that they are putting organic and local ingredients front and center begins the education. It’s a gateway (kind of like tofu bologna) to begin to educate people who haven’t thought about it yet. So I think it’s a good thing, even though it’s not the whole nine yards. Baby steps get you there, too.

    Now, if I walked in to one of my favorite veggie or vegan restaurants and saw them serving Coke, that would be a whole ‘nuther story!