Thanks to the influence of Michael Pollan and countless newspaper and magazine articles on the subject, I have embarked on a quest to eliminate high-fructose corn syrup from our diet. Remember how giving up trans fats was the big thing last year? Well, HFCS is next on the list around here. It is evil and it is vile and it is (grrrrr) hidden away on the ingredient list of more items than you would ever expect.
And I’m just not going to take it anymore.
So grocery store excursions are becoming increasingly more time-consuming. As if taking a nursing baby and a moody preschooler to the market isn’t enough to try one’s patience, add in a neurotic female who must read every word of every food label and, well, things can get testy.
What used to take 20 minutes has now become an all-afternoon adventure. Case in point:
Yesterday I decided to do our weekly grocery shopping at Walmart (oh, how I despise that place) because in addition to food, we needed diapers and a few other discount store items. To refrain from making unnecessary jaunts to town, I decided to suck it up and get it all done together. And after making sure The Big Boy went potty before we left, and Little Miss Piggy had a fresh diaper, and all three of us had full bellies, we spent another half-eternity buckling everyone into the car and making sure pacifiers and Hot Wheels were all within reach for the whopping six-mile car trip.
But then, of course, Little Miss Piggy decided she needed to nurse (again) right after we pulled into the parking lot which, of course, resulted in another rather funky diaper change. So finally, I stash the baby in her sling on my chest, plop The Big Boy in the three-man-cart of his choosing and, 45 minutes after I announced it was time to get in the car and go to the store, we are finally actually IN the store.
The part of the shopping experience that requires my greatest patience, though, hasn’t even begun. Taking a young child into any food store is an exercise in frustration, and I have learned that redirection is one of the few weapons in my arsenal that works with any regularity. Well, that and conflict avoidance, because, you see, if you just don’t shop on those middle aisles where all the cookies and fruit roll-ups huddle, waiting to attack, then most problems can be circumnavigated rather easily.
Not at Walmart, though. There they stick the organic yogurts right next to the neon, hyper-sweetened kiddie versions. And brightly-colored cupcakes lurk dangerously close to the cage-free eggs. And what do you think is directly beside the organic milk? Why, strawberry “milkshakes,” of course.
Conflict avoidance just isn’t an option at Wally World. So I dance madly around the yogurt section, picking up every possible healthy option and excitedly extolling it’s virtues to an increasingly suspicious three-year-old. "Look!" I shout. "French vanilla! That means this vanilla comes from another country." "Wow. Check out this one! It has strawberry bananas in it? Can you imagine? I've never seen a strawberry banana before?" Five excruciating minutes later, I win, though I pretend I’ve given in to his demands by settling for the organic fat-free blackberry yogurt. He grumbles a little and, being smarter than I tend to give him credit for, he starts immediately angling for a “special treat.” See, he knows good and well that I gypped him on the yogurt. So he starts wearing me down before I’ve fully recovered from the near-meltdown on the yogurt aisle.
And I’ve gotta admit, I was sorely tempted to just cave in and grab a bag of gummy worms from the end-cap. But doggone it, I was sacrificing my favorite coffee creamer in the name of this HFCS-Freedom Fight and I was already kind of on edge about it. “Creativity,” I reminded myself. There has to be some creative alternative to gummy candies that will seem just as appealing to a three-year-old. Redirection is my best friend, after all.
And then it hit me. And I nearly knocked myself over trying to reach behind my head to give myself a good old-fashioned pat on the back.
That’s right. Dried apricots. No sugar, no high-fructose corn syrup. No chemicals that I can’t pronounce. No long ingredient lists. And, best of all, they’re big, they’re bright orange, and they’re chewy. Just. Like. Gummy. Candy. And The Big Boy thought he’d gotten away with something, because these “apricot gummies” came in a much bigger bag than the nasty sugar-coated worm things that he had originally requested. He snickered at me and ate them greedily, refusing to share even one.
Jessica Seinfeld, eat my dust.