Hissy Fit - August 2023 - Warning: Nutrition Labels Don’t Address Mental Health

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


August 2023 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

Every time I go into the grocery store I spend far more time than planned. When I walk out, I feel as though I’ve been in a time warp. The other night, I spent almost 15 minutes just in front of the egg section trying to decide which eggs to buy. In the past, I would casually stroll up to the eggs (there wasn’t really a “section”), open the lid to make sure none were cracked or leaking, put them in my cart and stroll on. I mean, eggs are eggs, right? Not anymore.

Now, I need a therapist to hold my hand and help me process the egg section and what my buying decision means. I don’t know about you, but I toil over the many varieties and try to make the best decision not only for me, but also for the chickens. There are eggs that come from vegetarian-fed chickens, drug-free feed, pesticide-free, hormone-free, steroid-free, and antibiotic-free feed. Of course, all this “free” isn't in the same egg, and they are also far from free. In fact, the consumer pays more for the chickens not to get these things in their feed. How does that make sense?

There are also eggs that are lower in saturated fat and higher in omega 3s. Isn’t that important? But, way beyond the added health benefits for us, the consumers who just want a scrambled egg tomorrow morning, are the added benefits for the chickens one must now take into consideration. There are eggs from cage-free chickens and eggs from animal-friendly facilities. I’m so confused, and again, it cost more not to have cages and to be kind to the chickens. Shouldn’t the saved money of not having to purchase cages be passed on? I don’t want to buy the most expensive eggs on the shelf, but I also don’t want to torture a chicken (though I did just place a family pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my cart). If I buy the born-free eggs am I actually helping a chicken, or are they born-free, chased down, stuffed in a cage and forced to lay eggs all day? Oh, the guilt! I can’t stand it, so I turn to see what else is available and spot the carton of egg beaters. I don’t even want to imagine what those pour little things went through, so I give up and decide to eat cereal for breakfast, which brings me to another dilemma—oatmeal.

I’ve eaten oatmeal all my life. It’s healthy for you through and through, or at least that’s what I thought. Now I see “Weight Control Oatmeal.” I didn’t realize old-fashioned oatmeal was overly caloric. Another package claims to be “Oatmeal Nutrition for Women.” Does that mean I’ve been eating man oatmeal all my life? I catch myself unconsciously rubbing my chin to see if I’m sprouting whiskers. Thank God, no. I must have stopped eating the man oatmeal just in time. But now I am truly baffled as to what to eat for breakfast. I’ll just skip breakfast, but I do need to pick up dog food before I go home.

My veterinarian told me to choose a dog food and stick with it. But there’s a new dog food touting my dog will live longer right on the front of the package. How can I not switch? I definitely want him to live longer. He deserves food that will help him live longer, though, he doesn’t really need the upset stomach he will get from changing food. Oh wait, there’s a bag that says his joints won’t hurt and his coat will be shinier. Now I have to decide if he would want better joints and healthy coat or a longer life? If his joints hurt, would he actually want to live longer? I’m positive he would forfeit the shiny coat for longer life; there’s no pain in an unshiny coat, and he’s not that vain, either. Decisions, decisions­—all pulling on my heartstrings.

Mentally in shambles, I amble to the produce section to buy a cantaloupe. Both of us like it, and it’s a pretty straight-forward melon. I decide to talk to the vet tomorrow about switching dog food. I can also research how much cruelty the chickens are actually going through, and call Quaker to see if oatmeal is truly gender-specific to make sure I’m eating the correct one.

I gather my melon and the rest of own reusable, empty grocery shopping bags and wander aimlessly back to my low-emission, hybrid car. Exhausted, I pick up my all-natural, lead-free, wood-free, lead pencil and make a note on my recycled paper to schedule a “session” for tomorrow…remotely, of course. I can no longer decide to leave the house or not.