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Reflections on The Twinkie

November 18, 2020
I recently watched Eating Twinkies with God, a delightful video about a child who travels into New York City in search of The Almighty. He finds an older homeless woman sitting on a bench, and they chat. The boy has packed Hostess Twinkies in his satchel, and offers his new friend a cake. I have to say one plot element bothered me. And it was NOT an eight year old riding the subway all by himself. I was far more disturbed by the Twinkies. I mean, it’s one thing to send your kid off alone into a major city on public transportation, but to make those nutritional nightmares readily available to him? What kind of parent DOES that? 
 
Answer: Me.
 
Or at least, I did once in a while, back in the day. I had grown up on an abysmal diet where prepackaged sweets and TV dinners were the norm, so my food pendulum swung in the totally opposite direction when it came to raising my own brood. However, the exhausting reality of having 5 kids under age 10 set in soon enough, and with it many a dinner of fish sticks and that weird day-glo boxed mac and cheese. But I always felt appropriately guilty when I slipped up. For every Yodel they gobbled, I made sure there was an apple or banana chaser, hoping the Healthy Food Group would neutralize those empty calories. 
 
These days, Aiden and Peter are being raised totally Twinkie-free, a decision I applaud. For them, their multigrain fig bars are THE snack time treat, and when they occasionally eat chocolate it’s usually the good stuff. But I’m trying to stop being judgmental about those who don’t have ready access to/can’t afford what Whole Foods has to offer. I think of the little ones living in urban “food deserts,” where the local bodega has zero fresh veggies. I recall my time on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, where the feeding program depended on the largesse of companies like Walmart to fill tummies. All too often, the big trucks would unload two liter bottles of whatever nasty soda flavor wasn’t selling—and people would line up for it! 
 
All around the world, cultures have food traditions. Some, like the Japanese, live extra-long lives with their fish and seafood, and Greeks, with their olives and greens. Others, often by necessity, succumb to the lure of cheap, preservative-laden food, and their health suffers accordingly. 
 
The Twinkie is not inherently evil. What’s needed is the concept of balance--but that assumes there are attainable wholesome choices that can be made. In this Land of Plenty, during this season of Thanksgiving, maybe we can focus on ways to level the playing field for everyone. Let’s work on turning those food deserts into food gardens, and restore the health of our brothers and sisters in poverty. And maybe someday, junk food will take its small, rightful place in the world’s diet. 
 
And all of God’s children will eat well.
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    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: www.eliseseyfried.com or email me at eliseseyf@gmail.com.

     

     

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