What's Really In Our Food
Healthy Eating on a Budget
Before I launch into the truth about the food we are offered in supermarkets, please let me explain that I do not have a large budget, in fact I have very little money. Healthy eating does not have to cost a fortune.
There are lots of people out there telling you that you need to eat organic, which would be great, but if like us making ends meet is an issue then let me assure you that my family eats fabulously and we have removed as many chemicals as possible while still saving money.
We R What We Eat
Being healthy is not just about buying healthier food, it is about understand what has happened to our food and how that is affecting us, once we understand the changes which have taken place in the food industry, only then can we make an educated decision as to what we want to eat and what we want to feed our friends and family.
I have the advantage of having studied nutrition and diet theory, but I have to confess that I never practised as a nutritionist. I quickly realised that the training I had was not in depth enough, it became increasingly important to me that I understood more and more about the digestive system and why we were all suffering from allergies and why so many horrific illnesses were increasing.
I don't for one moment think that I can solve cancer or stop dementia, but I did discover some amazing things on my quest to find out why the way we interacted with our food had changed so much.
(Can't have a site about food contamination without mentioning aspartame)
First I have a questions for you - have you ever heard of anyone being allergic to sugar? No .... What about allergic to aspartame? The internet if full of reports of allergies, reactions and side affects.
Here is a list of symptoms often associated with aspartame allergy:
Headaches and Migraines
Most of which can be caused by excess sugar as well!
But now look at the list of diseases which may be linked to aspartame:
Restless Leg Syndrome
Sugar can cause heart disease and also diabetes, but this is usually a result of excess - rather than just being in the persons diet. Additionally, obesity can be reversed, and heart disease can be arrested in its tracks and action take to undo the damage - which of the above can be stopped or even controlled?
In short obesity can be controlled, but damage to our nervous system or brain is a one way street!
The simple fact is that we really don't know exactly what aspartame does to us, but we have decades of experience and we know exactly what sugar does - so why would anyone choose to have aspartame over sugar?
I love garlic, I have been growing my own for a while now. One of the great things about garlic is that 'garlic begets garlic' - ie, you grow it from itself, no seed purchasing required.
Garlic is also very good for your blood, and there are loads of great ways to cook it. Here is one which you may not have tried. Loosely wrap a whole head of garlic in foil and put on the BBQ (down with the coals is best), put it in right at the beginning before the bbq is hot, leave it for as long as possible. When you take it out, carefully remove the foil and using a really sharp knife, slice the head across so that each clove is visible. The garlic will be very soft, almost liquid, paste it on some warm homemade bread, and eat - absolutely delicious!
Did you know that the garlic you buy in the supermarkets has been sprayed with a chemcial to slow down the sprouting process? This means you cannot grow it as well, and you are eating chemicals :(
In Defense of Food
If you have not come across Michael Pollan then you should definitely give this video some of your attention. We are what we eat, hence we should understand exactly what it is that we are eating.
Michael Pollan is a very articulate man who is easy to listen to and really does help in the understanding of what is happening and what has happened to our food chain.
We all need a treat occasionally
Most of the time we actually have healthy snacks. Dried fruit is a great one. But have you ever looked at the label on your packet of dried fruit? There always seems to be something other than the fruit in it.
My youngest son loves bananas - and banana chips. Originally I used to buy these for him, they were cheap and it had not occurred to me that there was anything other than dried bananas in them .... I was wrong.
So the answer was make your own; but I had no idea how to make banana chips. This was quickly solved with a look on youtube. I discovered that with a very cheap dehydrator I could knock out banana chips at least as cheaply as the shop, and mine would be all natural.
I did get a little carried away with the banana chips, so I actually had to make two investments. The first was a dehydrator and the second was a vacuum sealer.
Both are must-have items in my life now. We walk alot as a family, and I we all like the beach, but the problem with two growing boys is that they can never go more than 2 hours without eating. So I used to forever be preparing sandwiches and all sorts of snack bags. Now I have a box in my office, which is next to the front door, and in it there are loads of dried fruits which are all sealed, so before they get in the car to go anywhere they go into the box and choose their snacks. The favourites are definitely bananas, peaches and apples.
Salt may be bad for us - but what about the salt substitutes which are being used?
Cysteine is an amino acid, it is a semi-essential one, so it should not be harmful. The problem is that the food industry uses L-cysteine heavily in the flavouring process, and the way they produce it is rather nasty.
There are two basic types of L-cysteine, one has a bases of feathers and the other human hair. In both cases these are blasted with hydrochloric acid to produce the desired salty flavouring l-cysteine. Unfortunately, since this is then sold to flavour houses, and incorporated into a patented flavour, there is no need to mention it on the ingredients. This makes it rather hard to avoid.
The obvious next thought process is 'I shall only have natural flavours' ..... I am sorry to say that this will not actually solve the problem. In Europe substances can be categorised as artificial, natural or nature identical. This is nature identical - so in some cases you can guess by the working that perhaps all the ingredients are not 'natural' in the sense that most of us understand.
However, if you are in the US you have a much bigger problem. Nature identical does not exist, therefore it must either be categorised as natural or artificial. Since cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid, and since l-cysteine is make from duck feather (natural) or human hair (natural) and hydrochloric acid (natural) - l-cysteine is categorised as natural .....
I cannot sit here typing and let you think that I am some sort of saint - I still occasionally eat crisps, and my kids are allowed them on special occasions - but I am glad that I know what I am eating when I eat them. It makes it a lot easier to eat healthy foods when you know that your 'All Natural Salt Crisps' may be flavoured with human hair
Make Your Own Crisps - (no I am not mad ... it is possible)
I make my own crisps from tortilla wraps. I first make a simple dough, roll it out as thin as possible and then pop it in a hot frying pan (no fat needed). Once it has slightly browned, I flip it over, do the other side and then start the next one.
Once I have a stack of these I cut them up (usually just with the kitchen scissors), then put them on a baking tray, sprinkle with some salt and bake in the oven.
These are delicious eaten warm, so if you can time it for when guests arrive you will be able to offer a yummy healthy snack which will blow their minds!
A Word of Warning - Chlordane - A Carcinogen Still Found in the Food Chain
Chordane was used as a pesticide up until 1988 when it was banned. The problem is that it doesn't go away, it will stay in the ground for a couple of decades. So you may be thinking that we should be in the clear now .... unfortunately not. Plants grown in ground contaminated with Chlordane become contaminated with it. We then eat it and some is left in our bodes, while some passes through - which ends up back in the water system. Then there are the animals. Animals who have been fed contaminated feeds, store the chlordane in their fatty tissues, which we then eat, and further continue its circulation in the food and water chain.
It seems that we have not learnt from this contamination as we are now using Roundup, and other chemicals - when will we learn that chemicals put on land DO NOT go away?