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Risky Business

Have you ever read something that got you so fired up you just can’t stop thinking about it?  A couple of articles did just that to me this week and I wanted to share them with you.

First, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) released its 2014 Cancer Progress Report last week.  The good news…progress continues in preventing and treating this brutal disease.  The bad news…over 500,000 people are expected to die from cancer in 2014.  While some cancers are decreasing, the cancers that are increasing are associated with dietary habits and being overweight or obese.  Hold that thought…

Second, there was an article that references a report released by sociologists from North Carolina State University.  The report suggests the “stress” that cooking puts on people may not outweigh the benefits.  This “stress” includes time pressures, cost and the burden of trying to please others (like family members — such as picky kids and spouses).  This is the part that really got to me…the conclusion of the article is that cooking is “expensive and time-consuming and often done for a bunch of ingrates who would rather be eating fast food anyway.”

So, let me wrap my brain around this one…there continues to be evidence that what we eat affects our risk of not just diabetes and heart disease, but also cancer.  Yet, people are willing to take this risk because cooking is too difficult and “stressful?”  Would we encourage our family and friends to smoke cigarettes?  Absolutely not…there are too many health risks!  So, why do we encourage eating habits that increase the risk of health problems?

Jumping back to the cancer report — it’s extremely difficult to prove scientifically that eating certain types of foods, such as processed foods, causes cancer…or expedites the progression of cancer.  But don’t we have to ask ourselves…is this a “where there’s smoke there’s fire” situation?  By the time this correlation is proven scientifically, it will be too late…we will regret we didn’t make different decisions in how we ate and the habits we ingrained in our children.

The AACR report states over 50% of the cancer-related deaths in 2014 will be related to preventable causes…including tobacco use, obesity/overweight, dietary habits, lack of physical activity and exposure to UV light.  Yes…preventable!  It’s estimated that 33% of all new cancer diagnoses in the U.S. are related to being overweight or obese, poor eating habits and/or not getting enough physical activity.

Cancer arises when the orderly process that controls normal cells go awry…cells may multiply uncontrollably, fail to die, or accumulate…leading to problems.  Cancer is clearly influenced by factors other than lifestyle factors…like genetics.  We probably all know someone who lives a very healthy lifestyle, yet still receives an unfortunate cancer diagnosis.  However, evidence continues to mount that lifestyle factors…including dietary habits and being overweight…also influence the likelihood of developing cancer, as well as cancer progression and/or recurrence.

Some risks are worth taking…but this isn’t one of them!  Going back to the North Carolina State report, while cooking at home certainly isn’t easy, this has to be one of the most worthwhile investments we can make for ourselves and our families!  To me, it’s not just cooking at home, but preparing meals using REAL food.  Also, eating away from home is OK (and certainly necessary at times)…but again, REAL food is the key!

Part of the reason we started Eat REAL America is to help people overcome the obstacles to eating REAL food…at home or away from home.

  • It doesn’t have to be time-consuming!  There are numerous quick & easy and slow cooker meals available on
  • Don’t blame cooking…the problem may be planning and priorities!  We were enlightened by one of our favorite local chefs this weekend on the 6 P’s…Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance (definitely seems relevant here).  Since the week can easily fill up with distractions, a little planning on the weekend can help remove the dinnertime chaos during the week.  Make sauces, marinades, or dressings on the weekend and plan out the meals for your week!
  • It doesn’t have to be more expensive!  It is absolutely possible to eat REAL food at a similar cost to processed / fast food (see our blog on “Is Eating Healthy Really More Expensive?” at
  • What to do about those picky eaters?  For those who won’t eat vegetables or anything they perceive as out of the ordinary, isn’t it worth the investment to take that cigarette (I mean processed food) out of their hands?  Start simple…like one or two REAL food meals per week…try something familiar such as sloppy joes (our healthier version…Sloppy Joes with Butternut Squash…can help ease them into a REAL food routine).  Or, sweet potato fries or parsnip fries…check out the options on!

Thank you for letting me rant!  Are there important people in your lives who think cooking REAL food is too difficult and not worth the trade-off?  Please encourage them to recognize the unnecessary risk they are taking (not to mention the fantastic REAL food meals they are missing out on)!  What would make your life easier to enjoy more REAL food meals at home?  We would love to know!

"Knowing what's right doesn't mean much unless you do what's right."  - Teddy Roosevelt

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