For a long time now, I have had some suspicions about our country and food. The statistics confirm my assumptions that we, here in America, view food very differently than the rest of the world. If this wasn’t the case, then we wouldn’t be the fattest and most miserable country and society in the world. When I took a class for my nutrition major, and had to do a project on how to make eating healthy look appealing to an individuals social life, well… I was positive at this point that I society has really messed up the idea of food and all of us are just following along.
It is to all of your great benefit that the man I am marrying was not born here in this place called America. Ok, well actually it isn’t any benefit to you other than the fact I was able to take his memories of life in Eastern Europe and translate (not really) them into a bit of a lesson for us here today!
So here we go…
1. If you had to describe food in Albania in 3 words or less how would you do so?
Fresh and Homegrown
2. If you had to do the same but for America how would you do so?
Fake and Steroids
3. What is the biggest difference concerning nutrition between Albania and America?
There are more options and easier access to food (fast food, restaurants) in America. The definition of fresh in both places differs greatly.
4. How about health?
The people in America are more health conscious, however there is a safety net in America concerning health, due to all of the medical abilities. In Albania that isn’t the case which results in more individual responsibility about health.
5. How about exercise?
Much more exercise in Albania, there is a lack of transportation therefore walking was your primary source of transportation. The definition of exercise in America is part of the definition of living in Albania.
6. What was an average meal in Albania like?
A lot of grains such as wheat, a lot of vegetables, however not much meat because it was so expensive.
7. Now as a single male living on your own, what does an average meal look like to you hear in America?
Frozen dinners, fast food and occasionally a homemade meal.
8. Did you ever have any education (formally or informally) about nutrition in Albania?
“oh God no!”
9. How about America?
Yes, in school and from You (me Leah).
10. What is your personal motto to live a healthy live.
Exercise more, wise decision making concerning food and carving out more time to actually prepare real food.
11. Does the Albanian media portray health the same way the American media does?
No, in the Albanian media, all sizes are accepted and appreciated. In some villages and communities, what America would consider to be thick or chunky on females is actually considered more attractive. This is because for so long food was scarce so a female that has a little meat on her bones must come from a wealthy or at least financially stable family.
12. Does Albania have gyms (as in Planet Fitness, Lifetime Fitness etc.)?
Some have popped up but only in the large cities, such as the capital. Gym memberships are expensive and only the wealthy have them.
13. What does the average dinner experience look like?
There are no courses, families sit down and just eat. Everything is set out at once and it is common to eat the same thing over and over for a few days.
14. You said there is a lot of personal responsibility concerning nutrition and food. What are common things that the average family would grow/raise in their back yard to be used as a food source?
Cattle, Vegetables (Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Onions, Zucchini, Peppers, Peas), Chickens, Grapes, Corn, Wheat, Sheep, Milk from Cows for drinking, yogurt and cheese, Goat, Watermelon, Berries.
** There was little access to refrigerators and/or freezers, therefore food had to be consumed quickly. There were no preservatives or artificial flavoring, food just simply had to be consumed before it went bad.**
15. In the winter, you had weather similar to Michigan, how did these conditions effect your food supply?
The weather would be used to our advantage… I remember my dad and uncles drying and freezing meat similarly to what jerky is in America. We would go without fruits and vegetables in the winter and have more starches (wheat, potatoes and rice).
16. What is the equivalent in America, to a grocery store in Albania?
We had markets (kind of like what you would imagine they had in biblical times) and there was no promise of consistency in products. Whatever the community had, they had and that was all that was available besides what your family grew/raised.
Even though I know this, it is still surprising to me when I hear this from him. I often think about how most of those in our society would respond to this type of environment. I also wonder if we haven’t traded in a lot of good in our society (less focus on food, more on relationships and community) for accessibility. For thousands of years, we have survived without options concerning our food, has this possibly negatively effected us? Has the ability to go to the store and buy anything you can imagine overwhelmed your senses and caused you no longer be able to make wise decisions? I guess this is just something to consider, but definitely consider this the next time you are in the grocery store.