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    • Food Additives

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    •  10/29/2009 8:48:51 PM
    • Many people are familiar with the term "additive" but was is it really.  Basically an additive is a chemical added to food to alter it in some way. This could be to make it last longer, look fresher, or taste better.  The problem with these chemicals is that they are proven to be bad for our health.  The toxic effect of these chemicals won't kill you after just one serving, but long term effects could be devastating.  These additives are linked to many problems as minor as eczema, to more serious ones like depression and even cancer. I do believe that depression is a real illness.  I do believe that modern medicine can help "cure" depression.  It would just be nice if people were also informed that proper food choices could also be a "cure". If you believe that taking medicine ( a chemical) can alter your brain for the good, then it is reasonable to assume that taking chemicals (in the form of additives) could also alter your brain (for the bad).   This is a list of some of the worst food additives out there.

       

      SODIUM NITRITE or NITRATE - a preservative and a taste and color enhancer found in meat.  Usually found in hot dogs, lunch meat, bacon, sausage and canned meats.   Studies have shown this to be a carcinogenic that can cause prostate, stomach, and breast cancer.

       

      MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)  a flavor enhancer that although once associated with foods in Chinese restaurants, is now used by most fast food chains and in many foodstuffs, particularly processed foods. This is the stuff that makes food "just taste real good!"  (We are being "tricked" to eat more).

       

      HYDROGENATED or PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OILS - these are saturated fats that have been processed with hydrogenation which increases their "shelf life".  These are often referred to an trans fat. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are not essential, and they do not promote good health.  Heart disease is the number one killer in this country.  Heart disease comes primarily from consuming saturated fats.  Do the math.  Avoid these fats!

       

      ASPARTAME (Equal & Nutrasweet) - this controversial artificial sweetener has been behind 75% of all FDA food complaints.  It has been linked to headaches, memory loss, nausea, vision loss, seizures, and more recently CANCER.   The FDA stands by its assurance that it has been well tested and is safe at the current consumption.  I am under the general assumption that if it seems to good to be true then usually it is.  Let us not forget that this was invented in a lab by a chemist.  Not sounding too "Whole Food" to me.

       

      POTASSIUM BROMATE - this chemical is often found in bread and pizza dough and is used as a flour improver, strengthening the dough.  It is also a carcinogen that has been banned from use in food products in Europe, as well as the United Kingdom in 1990, and Canada in 1994, and most other countries. It was banned in Sri Lanka in 2001 and China in 2005. It is also banned in Nigeria, Brazil and Peru. In the United States, it has not been banned (although 3 states have banned it).  I am a bread lover/maker.  I hadn't even heard of this additive until recently.  How is that countries all over the world have banned a substance that I am potentially consuming on a regular basis AND I HAVEN'T EVEN HEARD OF IT.  It seems SO absurd to me.  I am one "those" people actually looking for information; imagine the unassuming American eating this everyday.  Shouldn't they be informed that it can cause CANCER?

       

      BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene) - are often added to foods to preserve fats. BHA is generally used to keep fats from becoming rancid. It is also used as a yeast de-foaming agent. BHA is found in butter, meats, cereals, chewing gum, baked goods, snack foods, dehydrated potatoes, and beer.  There is strong evidence that these are carcinogens.

       

      A few other notable mentions that you should be wary of:

      Acesufmate-K

      Suffites

      Sodium Chloride (Salt)

      High-Fructose Corn Syrup

      Olestra

      Food Colorings

       

      For a fantastic summary of the many different types of chemicals added to our food go to:

      www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm

       

      The more knowledge we have the more powerful we are.  Take 10 minutes and educate yourself on these additives that are EVERYWHERE.  What you don't know CAN kill you.  Dramatic....okay maybe..., but definitely true.

       

       

       

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    • Symptoms of a "Foodie"

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    •  11/17/2009 2:11:01 PM
    • For the last few months I have wondered if something was wrong with me.  Last night I got together with my Sisters-in-law at my Mother-in-law's house for our somewhat regular Craft night.  In the past I would usually pack up my computer for some digital scrapbooking or bring some fantastic craft to finish.  Not this time.  All I was thinking about was food; cooking, baking, recipes, and anything you can do with food!  So I packed  up all of my recipes, cook books, magazine "tear-out" recipes, and current library check-outs and took them for my "craft".   I was very productive in organizing all of my new recipes and discarding many of them (not a lot of need for all those meat recipes anymore).  I put together a menu for the month and then started working on kids lunch ideas.  All in all, it was a great night.......  That is until I saw all the fabulous "real" crafts that were getting done.  From adorable Halloween costumes, to beautiful quilts, to gorgeous Christmas decorations....I had to pause and ask myself, "What's wrong with me?"  While I was thrilled with my "craft" that night, it came to my attention again (and seems to more and more often lately) that other people don't necessarily share my joy of food.

       

      I love food.  I love to cook, bake, grill, steam...you name it.  I am constantly thinking of new recipes, and I have started replacing my novel with cookbooks!  I began wondering if I was obsessed, and if maybe I needed to take some serious action (any  food therapists out there?).  Was it just me or were there other people out there with the same symptoms!

       

      I think it was fate, or an answer to my  inner questions, but the very next day I stumbled upon a fantastic blog (www.foodiefarmgirl.blogspot.com).  I happened upon an entry from February 26, 2007.  She asked her readers what they considered a "foodie" to be.  Here was the reply:

       

      You know you’re a foodie if. . .

      --You’ll only eat chocolate your Dutch friend brings you directly from Holland (unless it is a DIRE emergency, and then you’ll resign yourself to a local specialty shop).

      --You own five or more kinds of vinegar.

      --You own five or more kinds of salt.

      --You put the final touch on a dessert by saying "It just needs a little orange blossom water," and you actually have a bottle of orange blossom water in the cupboard.

      --All the magazines you subscribe to are about food.

      --You’re lying awake at night because you can’t sleep from the excitement of conjuring up a new recipe.

      --Your first word (before "mama" or "dada") was "cookie"--and your spouse’s first word was "cheese."

      --You work at a bookstore, and when one of your colleagues excitedly tells you that five gorgeous young men have arrived, wearing only aprons and tight boxer shorts, to promote a new cookbook, your response is: "Ooh, did they bring food?"

      --You return home from a family Christmas and take your entire bag of presents straight to the kitchen to unpack it.

      --Your husband is embarrassed to take you out to eat because of the moaning noises you make while eating something incredible.

      --You just won’t stop fiddling with old family recipes--and your mother actually thinks your versions are better.

      --Before traveling to a new destination, the first thing you do is scour the Internet (and your friends’ brains) for information on the local dining scene.

      --All your friends who are traveling call you first to ask if you know a good place to eat at their destination.

      --Your husband has put you on a condiment moratorium, telling you that you must use up all the fancy-ass stuff you buy when you travel before you bring home any more.

      --When you walk into Sur La Table with your teenaged daughter, she calls it "The Mothership."

      --Some of your best friends are farmers, ranchers, and chefs.

      --Your family knows better than to touch a beautiful plate of food until you’ve had a chance to photograph it.

      --You’ve caught yourself dreaming of food and chewing it in your sleep.

       

      I was shocked, and amazed, and giggling at the same time!  It was like they were describing ME!!!!!  Oh Hooray, there IS a place for me!  I am not a one-of-a-kind-freak......I am a FOODIE!!!!!!  Who even knew there was a term for "my condition".  Maybe I don't need a therapist after all (jury's still out on that one). So there you have it,   I AM SPARTACUS (ok I mean Foodie, but that's how I feel right now)!!!  It is such a relief to know there are others out there JUST LIKE ME!

       

      That said, I have been dedicating my love of food to the healthy, whole-food variety.  Don't get me wrong, there is something incredibly gratifying about pulling gorgeous, fragrant cinnamon rolls out of the oven.  But that is now the exception to my rule.  For the most part, my love has been geared to finding delicious ways to serve healthy food to my family.  I now feel that I have been educated (which I don't want to take for granted) on the origins of disease, and those origins are BREAKFAST, LUNCH, and DINNER!  My focus  now is on making great food choices that will have the best impact on me and my family.  It is not just taste that I need to consider, but the overall picture.  This website is for all people (foodies or not) that are dedicated to better health!  It is for anyone that is ready to make a change  (whether it be baby steps or giant leaps) and to seek a change to healthier living!

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    • Acquiring a taste for Health

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    •  10/13/2009 9:36:47 PM
    • I remember watching Dr. Oz on Oprah a while ago talking about acquiring tastes for healthy food.  He said that for children, it generally takes tasting something 10 times before they acquire taste buds for that type of food.  I have 4 children and it seems that they all have different tastes.  To make mealtimes a little more enjoyable for all of us, we used to have a "3 FOODS" rule.  We let each child pick 3 foods that they didn't need to eat.  So for example, if I were serving broccoli and was about to put it on my oldest's plate, he would remind me, "That's one of my 3 foods".  Immediate veto for him!  Well NO more!  I quickly realized that if they are never eating certain foods, they will never acquire a taste for it.

       

      Now the kids know that they have to at least try EVERYTHING.  Anytime they complain about a food (usually a specific vegetable) I tell them that they have to have one bite so they learn to like it.  A few months ago, one of my daughters needed to eata red pepper (which she detests) in her salad.  As she took a bite, she got a surprised look on her face and exclaimed, "Mom, Mom, it's my tenth time".  Confused, I asked her what she meant.  She said,  "It must be my tenth time eating red peppers, because I love this."  Sure enough, she has not complained once about red peppers since then.

       

      Last week my youngest groaned as he sat down to the dinner table and saw that we were having zucchini (again).  Tears welled up is his eyes and he said, "I HATE zucchini."  We went through the same ritual that he needed to eat it but he could plus his nose if it helped.  He ate everything else on his plate, and painfully left the zucchini for last. With a little persuasion he finally took a bite.  As he did, his eyes popped, and he almost shouted, "My taste buds just hatched!"  His sisters knew exactly what he was talking about (I think they introduced him to the terminology) and cheered.  Hooray!  He now likes zucchini!

       

      So if you have some picky eaters at home, don't give up.  The time to introduce food is while they are young and quite literally developing taste buds.  As an adult it is trickier to acquire new tastes (I still hate celery).  Continue to give them the foods that will fuel their bodies properly and try to cut out the junk.  Studies have shown that highly processed foods actually change the way other food tastes to us.  The more junk you eat the less satisfying the healthy stuff will be!  So clean out all the boxed snack foods in the pantry and send your kids to the refrigerator instead!  Who knows, maybe you'll be there the next time their taste buds "hatch!"

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    • WHY SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS?...what’s in it for me

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    •  10/13/2009 9:35:56 PM
    •  I have never considered myself an “environmentalist”. I don’t spend much time thinking about how the animals I eat are treated. I firmly believe that everything on the earth is for “the use of man”. That said, I do believe in being responsible for everything that we have, and a little effort goes a long way.

       

      Our culture is one that has slowly moved us further and further away from food production. We celebrate that our hands don’t “get dirty” and think that we have somehow elevated our society to a superior standing. We don’t mind importing our food from Brazil, India, Chile or any other country as long as all we need to do is pull it off the shelf and swipe a card.  We generally want to be as far removed from the production process as possible - who wants to pluck feathers from a chicken or spread manure over a field? The irony of it all is that we will never be able to fully remove ourselves because we ALL need to eat.

       

      I have been amazed with how little I know about where my food actually comes from. I am thrilled when I can find salmon for $2.99 a pound, or when I am eating fresh asparagus in the middle of the winter. I have never given two thoughts to the origin of these pleasures. To be honest, I never even thought I SHOULD be thinking about where my food comes. I guess it is another of the many things that I have taken for granted.

       

      The truth is that how I spend my money has power (and a lot of it). And the large corporations that prepare my food, package my food, and then convince me to buy it know how much that buying power is worth. How I spend my money on food determines so much more than simply what I eat. I never realized this before. I never realized that I can take back a little bit of that power by thinking just a little bit harder of where that money goes. I could go into LONG detail about all the many reasons (political, environmental, health etc) about why supporting my local farmers is important, but here is the bottom line (in general terms):

       

      It is better for my health – accountability is created when we cut out the middle man. This accountability is what ensures product quality.

       

      It is better for my community – we all benefit when money is kept within our own cities. Whether this is from tax benefits (more money for schools and streets, etc), job development or even a better feeling of “community”, our money is better used at home than abroad.

       

      It is better for the soil – traditional multi-crop production is SOOOO much better for our earth than the conventional single-crop production that is taking over our farmlands. Also, CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operations) pollute the environment with animal waste, whereas the waste from pasture-raised animals act as a natural fertilizer.

       

      It is better for the animals – the difference between how a ‘farmer’ versus and ‘agribusiness’ treats animals is EXTREME. This may not be something you even care about, but just consider it “killing 2 birds with one stone” (no pun intended) when you support your local farmers.

       

      It is better for the environment - the amount of fossil fuels it saves buying local versus, say 2000 miles away is significant.  Once again, little changes can make HUGE differences.

       

      The only thing that it is not necessarily better for is my pocketbook. This doesn’t mean it HAS to be more expensive, but generally buying from your local farmer means FRESH food which is usually more expensive than the processed crap you can buy for a dime. That said, when comparing apples to apples (literally), I have found that my local farmers almost always beat the everyday store prices.

       

      There are a few ways to get started. First of all, find out where you local farmers market is. Many cities have an organized market at a designated location on weekends from late spring to early fall. www.localharvest.org

       

       

      If you do eat meat, find a local farmer that you can buy your meat directly from.  There are many options for buying portions of the cow itself.  Go directly to the farm and check it out for yourself.  Find out if they use hormone or antibiotics.  Find out if they are pasture fed or grain fed.  (Each of these things directly affects your health). 

       

      Buy local eggs and honey.  It might take a little research on your part to find, but as the demands for these products goes up, so will the supply.

       

      If anything, ask your grocer where the produce comes from. Support local food production by purchasing local peaches that week rather that bananas from South America.  It seems silly that for years I didn't know, or care, what fruits and vegetables were in season.  It is only logical that a fruit that is ripened naturally and that did not travel 2000 miles to my kitchen just MIGHT add a little more benefit to my body.  So if I have a buck to spend, why not spend it on the fruit that is in season.

       

      For awhile I thought maybe I should be supporting third world countries since our country was already so bounteous. I quickly learned that using my grocery money is definitely NOT the most productive way to do this.  “Developed nations promote domestic overproduction of commodity crops that are sold on the international market at well below market price, undermining the fragile economies of developing countries….Global trade deals negotiated by the World Trade Organization and World Bank allow corporations to shop for food from countries with the poorest environmental, safety, and labor conditions. While passing bargains on to consumers, this pits farmers in one country against those in another. Product quality is somewhat irrelevant…” Steven L. Hopp

       

      All in all, these are enough reasons for me to use my money a little more wisely. I am not saying that I won’t enjoy asparagus in the winter or that I will stop buying bananas. What I am saying is that we all need to educate ourselves a little more about where our food comes from. I definitely recommend the documentary that was recently released called Food, Inc. It may not turn you into an instant vegan, but you just might feel an increased desire to know exactly what you are putting into your body. Someday it would be nice if the public knew as much about their food as the huge conglomerates that produce it do. I'm not saying that we need to go to extremes either.  Like I mentioned, we have a lot of power with our money, and a little effort goes a long way.

       

       

       

      I found a local guy who just started harvesting honey this year.  He was nice enough to show

      me and my kids his bees.  This picture is him showing us the honeycomb.  I'll admit that

      the honey I purchased was a little on the expensive side, but well worth the time he spent

      educating us on bees!

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