Boy, do I love food. Always have. I’m one of those soft-around-the-edges-rather-bake-cookies-than-go-for-a-jog-live-to-eat kinds of people. And I’m ok with that. I’ve always enjoyed passive gardening as a hobby. (You know, throw a couple seeds in some dirt and see what happens?) But within the past year or so, I can honestly say I’ve become passionate about food, especially growing my own food. I think the catalyst to this change in thinking was the film “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” I ran across on Netflix one lazy afternoon. This led me to the film “Food, Inc.”, as well as some others. That was definitely the start for me. I had no idea that our food system was so complicated, corrupt and unhealthy!!! I kind of miss the naivety, but knowing this now may save my life! (Or at least help me live longer.)
I don’t know if there are more articles coming out now, or I’m just paying more attention, but I saw this generic article today “7 Foods You Should Never Eat” and I wanted to share. Now, by no means am I an expert at this. There is a huge learning curve going from McDonald’s and Velveeta Shells and Cheese to fresh caught fish with organic greens and potatoes. But I definitely put more thought and time into preparing our meals than I ever have before. Now, I’m only a fraction organic, and there is still a lot of junk food in my house. I’m working on it. It’s a tough habit to shake when that’s all you’ve know for, well, your whole life.
So, based on the list in the article above, here are the things I’ve changed that might work for you too.
1. Canned tomatoes (and really anything canned. See “It’s December, and I’m Stewed” for a link about canned soups): This one was easy. I grow my own tomatoes and can and freeze them each year, along with a lot of other vegetables. Easy to do anywhere, even if you only live on a patch of pavement! Google “Growing in containers” and you’ll find all the info you’ll ever need!
2. Corn-Fed Beef: This was probably the most shocking thing for me to learn about, and one of the things I feel most strongly AGAINST eating. So I contacted a local farmer, and buy my beef from him a couple times a year. It’s a higher cost up front, but because we have such a nice selection right in our freezer, we eat at home more, so it evens out. And it tastes and smells so much better. We also get our pork and chicken from local farms. (I plan on doing a more in-depth post about grass-fed vs. conventional beef soon.)
3. Microwave popcorn: This article says you shouldn’t eat microwave popcorn because of the chemicals in the bag. I did not know this. But we did change the way we make popcorn after reading the labels on the most common brands and finding that they are made, mostly, from genetically modified corn (GMO). —Don’t even get me started– Thankfully, I found this tip from Frugalgirls.com about making popcorn in a brown paper bag. Now I get organic popcorn kernels for a couple bucks and go to town!!
4. Nonorganic potatoes: We grow our own potatoes. They are the easiest, best return veggie you can grown, I swear. They are so fun to dig, because you just never know what they’re going to look like! My grandmother says: “Ohhh, I just love digging potatoes; it’s like opening presents at Christmas.” It really is.
5. Farmed Salmon: Fish is a new food for me in the past few years. As I kid I HATED fish. But my husband eased me into it with some Lake Erie Perch (Probably the most toxic fish ever) covered in 3 inches of fried batter. Now, I like to cook tilapia and other white fish in a little olive oil on the stove. But, I do try the get “freshly caught” or whatever the lingo is, because they are doing some CRAZY stuff with fish these days. (Cloning, genetically modifying, etc.) Maybe I should start buying organic…
6. Milk with artificial hormones: I look for labels that say “Without rBST.” They sell it at Trader Joe’s and Wal-mart now, too. It’s a little more expensive, but I’d say it’s worth it to keep my ovaries functioning.
7. Conventional Apples: Ok, this is admittedly the hardest for me. I try to buy local, which is seasonal, so then I try to buy organic, and they are all grown in Chile or somewhere they’ve been stored and shipped across continents for 3 months before making it to my kitchen. So, sometimes I just get disgusted and buy the regular ones. Which, now I’m re-thinking. I did can applesauce and apple butter from my grandfather’s tree this summer, so it’s a start.
And as always, I encourage buying all your food locally! Personally, I think buying locally is more important than buying organic. But organic is a close second.
Do you have any helpful tips to improve your food quality? What do you do to decrease preservatives and chemicals in your diet? I’d love to hear, because I’m still learning!!