Written by Jill Ettinger
It's the future, folks. We can watch videos on our telephones while eating meat from a can. Food science is not all bad, but there's a lot about conventional food practices that you might want to make note of.
- Morning wouldn't be the same without a cold glass of juice. But OJ—even the not from concentrate stuff—can sit in giant tanks for months, with flavorings added, according to Alissa Hamilton, author of Squeezed. Solution: squeeze your own; it's fresher, healthier and often cheaper.
- Even meat eaters squeal at the site of horrific standard practice of factory farm animal treatment including beatings, starvation, disease and filthy conditions. Solution: Source from organic, small local farms, preferably that you can visit to make sure you're ok with how they treat the animals.
- Salt gets a bad rap mostly for being too abundant in processed foods. While it's an important nutrient, ensure you don't overdo it by reading labels. Solution: make it yourself when it comes to soups and stocks, salad dressings and even breads.
- The average American meal travels some 1500 miles to get to your plate. Produce is shipped in from countries around the world when not in season. Solution: support your local farmers markets and eat seasonally. You'll be in "rhythm" with the seasons, the food will taste fresher and you cut down on that oil dependency.
- Sorry to ruin your day, but that PB+J you're having for lunch has bugs in it—likely thirty insect "fragments" per one hundred grams. That's the risk in letting factories make our food. Solution: spend time in the kitchen instead of in front of the TV. Buy in bulk and make your own, it's healthier and you may even have fun. Check out this recipe for homemade almond butter, substitute peanuts if you want peanut butter.
- Author Michael Pollan suggests food that's fortified is not really food because when nutrients have to be added back in, it means they were taken out in excessive processing. Solution: stick with whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies all chock full of nature's goodness.
- Artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors and preservatives can be hidden in many foods. Some have been linked to diseases such as cancer and obesity. Solution: look for foods that have only natural ingredients, and avoid diet sodas and junk foods.
- Salmon is on our radar as possibly being the first genetically modified meat allowed for sale. But there are still a lot of questions about its safety. Other GMO foods are already in our food system including corn and soy. Solution: buy organic and avoid products with nutrition labels longer than your name. Keep it simple.
- The Corn Refiners Association is actively trying to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to "corn sugar." They suggest your body does not recognize the difference between cane sugar and HFCS, but studies link HFCS to increased rates of diabetes and obesity. Solution: You're sweet enough. Take it easy on the processed sugar. Try seasonal fruits for dessert and pop the soda habit.
- As much as forty percent of energy in food production goes to packaging. Our landfills are overstuffed as it is, and in most cases, packaged foods are not as healthy as the fresh stuff anyway. Solution: bring your own containers, buy in bulk, make it from scratch and cut down that pile of trash for your health and the environment.
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photo: Jill Ettinger