I can’t say I have ever blogged before, let alone blog about food, or food-industry topics. However, I will attempt to share my little bit of experience so far from working at the Swarthmore Co-op. I joined the Co-op in December of last year (2011 for those who don’t have a calendar or are just winging it and can’t recall where they might be). I honestly never knew what a food Co-op was. I was hired as the Assistant Grocery Manager and before I knew it my life began to change.
Prior to working here, I had spent the bulk of my life eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I had no structured diet, with little care about meals or what was in my food. If it tasted good I wanted to eat it. That included plenty of candy, chips, snack foods, and overly processed/hyper salted foods. In the Summer of 2011, I experienced a heart condition at the age of 27 and realized it had to change; but my food revolution didn’t fully begin until I was able to join the Co-op workforce that winter. I couldn’t just keep consuming the same foods over and over each day because it was killing me slowly. When I began working here I was still eating some pretty awful things loaded with salt, like pack after pack of Ramen noodles (do yourself a favor and look at the Nutritional Facts on one of those packs, it will blow your mind.). As the days and weeks passed I began gathering more information from vendors, websites, and my fellow Co-op employees. I was quietly piecing together helpful tips on how to change my eating habits and create a more healthy me (like Frankenstein but with more fruits and whole grains). I started to completely cutout empty calories and scale back other products that, while they tasted amazing, had little nutritional benefit.
Gone were the bags of potato chips. In came the snacking alternatives that I had spent countless days stocking on Co-op shelves. Gone were the insanely sugary cereals that I grew up loving. I don’t think I can ever again eat a bowl of Fruity Pebbles (known to contain BHT or butylated hydroxytoulene, petroleum based antioxidant used to slow down oil rancidity…Thanks Google!). In came Mom’s Best Natural Cereals, more eggs in the morning, and lots of delicious oatmeal. I could go on and on. I was paying attention, or at least some attention to what I was putting in my body. Now I am far from perfect when it comes to this stuff, but I’m off to a good start. I feel healthier for sure. I can actually do some pull-ups. I don’t crash or drag in the later parts of the day like I used to do on occasion.
I am glad I decided to join the Swarthmore Co-op because its allowed me to hopefully begin to add years back onto my life. I am much pickier with my food choices (still gotta indulge here and there…don’t tell anyone though). I even get picked on by my brother who thinks I am a lunatic for no longer preferring processed white bread, but instead switching to delicious whole grain/whole wheat bread.
Well I hope you enjoyed my dragging you down the rabbit hole that is my health food revolution. I am much happier with the knowledge I have gained while working here and the food choices I am beginning to make because of it. I try to take what I have learned and spread it to other people as well. Everyone should be aware of what is in their food and therefore being placed into their bodies. In my case I may have went a little overboard because now I can’t pick up a single item in the grocery store without ripping through the nutritional facts or swatting a pack cupcakes out of someone’s hands. But I am willing to do that now and save my life instead of continuing to jam trans fats and processed junk into my mouth.
-John O’Neill, Assistant Grocery Manager