By Michael Masterson

After training this afternoon, Tim, Ernesto, and I got into a conversation about nutrition. The topic was how Americans eat. The verdict: very poorly.

Ernesto said that in Rio de Janeiro, his hometown, practically everyone eats healthfully. "When you go to a local restaurant, you get fresh food and organic vegetables," he said. "And on every corner, there is a fresh juice stand."

I said that when I didn't know anything about nutrition, I mistakenly thought that people in advanced countries like the U.S. and England ate better than people elsewhere. The truth, I realized later, is that the food choices available in Nicaragua, for example - one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere - are infinitely better than they are in the States.

"In Costa Rica, it's expensive to eat junk food," Tim observed. "But in the U.S., it's some of the cheapest food you can get."

"That's the same in Brazil," Ernesto said. "A meal with fresh vegetables and fish might cost you a dollar or two. But if you want to eat at McDonald's, it will cost you more than it does here in the U.S."

Practically everything about American food is designed to make you fat and unhealthy, we agreed. Some meat is infused with hormones. Many fruits and vegetables are chemically damaged. Organic food can be so costly it's out of reach for most people. And junk food is relatively cheap and abundant.

So what do you do if you can't afford organic food? Stick to as much fresh produce, lean grass-fed beef, and wild fish (known to be low in mercury) as you can afford to buy. And stay away from fast food. It may be inexpensive, but it's bad for you.