Saturday, April 25, 2009

Is your food endangering your health? (Part 1)

I will begin with the disclaimer that this post may be long and could come across "preachy," however it is just a feeling-my-way attempt to share what I think is important information. In fact, I think it will be broken up into a series of posts...

I will follow that with a confession: I grew up as an eater of whatever I wanted. Junk food. Soda. Packaged cocoa and fake apple cider. Tang. Candy of all sorts. Healthy fruits and vegetables as well, of course. Meat of all kinds. Seafood of all kinds. I was a smoker of cigarettes for just over a decade (as a young adult). Cookies. Popcorn-even the microwave kind. Fast food of all varieties.

Thankfully, I was blessed with a palate that prefers savory to sweet and a stomach that prefers bird-sized portions to large platefulls. Even more thankfully, in recent years, I have been blessed with an ever-increasing urge to KNOW about my food, and an awakening to the fact that all is not as it seems in Wonderland.

I suppose age makes us repent the recklessness of youth somewhat, and tends to make us more aware of our health. As we climb ever nearer the age of infirmity, we begin to really look at ways to stave it off as long as possible. When we bring tiny infants into this world, we care more about what goes into bodies for nourishment than we ever cared before. We want to locate the best choices for optimum health.

Now comes the place where most fear to tread. (Or more accurately, don't even know there is a need to tread.) Untangling the tangled web of industrial deceit and half-truths. The confusing map of food and nutrition labeling, and the fact that many points of interest (like whether your food has been derived from genetically modified [GM] sources) do not require labeling. The conflicts of interest that keep the FDA from truly being on the side of consumer safety. Keeping abreast of bad new sweeping legislation disguised as food safety modernization. Finding out about GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Avoiding hazardous chemicals in food. It is Natural or not Natural? What about pesticide use?

Did you know that "from concentrate" means that the item has been deconstructed and then reconstructed? Did you know that your milk is separated into parts by centrifuge machinery, and then put back together for packaging into the carton you purchase from the shelf? Patented? The liquid milk you purchase has no resemblance to what actually came out of the cow? It is closer if you purchase whole milk, but lowfat and nonfat are usually "recombined" with milk powders.

Personally, I prefer goat milk because of the lower casein content and my belief that it is better for human digestion. (Truly, I don't think humans were meant to eat/drink milk from cows, or maybe even from goats, but I grew up with milk and am somewhat attached.) But I am on a hunt for LOCAL, RAW Goat's milk. If you get it locally and know the farmer, the health risks from large industrial processing are reduced to about zero. Find out some information about raw milk here. And here. My real goal is to one day have my own milking goats to supply my family with raw milk.

So, if you have followed me for any time, you know that I already try to avoid most packaged foods, anything with GMO ingredients, and HFCS. It is an ongoing process, and is so much easier said than done. It is why my mom says I am picky and she is afraid to try to feed me. My most simple guidelines are as follows:

Is it organic? GOOD because by definition it means that it will not be derived from GM/GMO origins
Is it not organic, but free of GMOs? not as good, but still okay on occasion, for now.
Is it packaged? not good if it has any ingredients that are not organic, or that I cannot pronounce. Not good if it has canola oil that is not organic because it will be GM. Not good if it has ANY preservatives.

Did you use a microwave? I will not eat it.
Did you use teflon or any nonstick cooking device? I will not eat it.

Fresh, organic, local, heirloom, raw. All these terms are synonymous with safe. Venture out of this realm, and things get dicey. Have you heard of acrylamides? Food safety is a lifelong endeavor, and I got on the wagon a bit late! The food you eat will most likely not kill you today. Maybe not next week. Maybe not even in 20 years. But do you really want to find out in 30 years that you have contracted mad cow disease? Or to suffer IBS, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic ailments because of poor and uninformed food choices? I, for one, do not.

If you made it to the end of this post, I applaud you.
If you are on board with the SAY NO TO GMO challenge, I doubly applaud you.
If you read any further in my series about foods endangering health, I am certain
I will have to reward you with a standing ovation.
Happy Safe Eating to you all.


Nun of a Kind! said...

Very enlightening, and thought-provoking!

Cheeseslave said...

Great post! Thanks for taking part in our No GMO Challenge. I stumbled your post.

Sinclair said...

@Cheeseslave; thanks!