Food or news, it can’t all be junk

For years, my husband and I have toyed with the idea of opening a retail store in McCook with the business divided into two distinct sides.

One half would feature all our favorite junk foods, using machines we have accumulated over the years. Reminiscent of the county fair or childhood summers, the store would feature cotton candy in every flavor and color imaginable, funnel cakes piled high with fruit toppings, and popcorn covered in so many different seasonings, your head would spin. And of course, there would be chocolate because how can you have a store of favorites without chocolates in every form and style possible. 

If you notice, there is little redeeming nutritional value in any of these items, with the exception of the fruit toppings but even that would be mostly sugar.

Hence, the reason for the other half of the store. To balance out the lack of nutrition on one side and to assuage our guilt over such indulgent offerings, the other side would essentially be a health food store featuring foods we all know we should eat, but struggle to get enough of in our diets. 

Whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables, vitamins, smoothies, even kombucha which people may claim to like but no one does really. But let’s be honest….we know which side is going to be busier and more profitable: the junk food side. 

While junk food is okay in moderation, it cannot be the sole basis of a diet. As we told our kids when they were little, there are “sometimes” food and “often” food. We learned early on that anytime you labeled something a “never” food, it became irresistible with wrappers hidden under the mattress.

There needs to be a variety of foods from both sides of the aisle, or in this case, both sides of the store. The same concept holds true for our news and entertainment consumption. We cannot subsist on just junk news or junk entertainment. We need to make the conscious step of adding a variety of healthy, informative news to our “information diet.”

Yes, there are times when I want to watch a mindless TV show or binge-watch an entire series with no redeeming quality, just so I can have a giant bowl of popcorn.

But on the flip side, I regularly listen to news programs, subscribe to several newspapers, download innumerable podcasts and am mid-way through multiple books on my nightstand. 

Think of learning and reading and researching as healthy food. You need it to keep your mind functioning, to have intelligent conversations, to open yourself up to the possibility that not only do you not know something, but also that you might be wrong. 

And perhaps even more importantly, it is not just one news program or news outlet; it is not just one podcast, one author or one journalist. Just like our diets, our minds need variety.If we want to have intelligent and meaningful conversations, we need to have a variety of healthy information.

If we are going to move our community forward and to be able to work together, we need to have a variety of sources to make fact-based decisions. 

While it may be easier to rely on junk food or junk information, we need to make the effort to make ourselves healthier – both physically and mentally – if we want our community to come together and make it an even better place to call home.

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