Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bite on This - more Grocery Store Secrets

We all know chlorine is a poison, it's toxic and has been linked to infertility and disease. Sadly it's everywhere, in our drinking water, bleaching our paper towels and toilet paper, in pools, in PVC plastics, in pesticides, so we do our best to avoid it by getting unbleached products and filtering our water (even the showers!) and just when we thought we were safe, we find out that chlorine is routinely used to keep our healthy produce "fresh" by, and I quote the MMS Newsletter:
"In the grocery store, glistening carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. all glisten and look fresh primarily because five days ago they were picked, washed, then passed under a cloud of ClO2 gas that destroyed bacteria and disease-germs that ordinarily cause food to quickly spoil.

Some transportation trucks carrying produce (sometimes on two-day trips) can blow some ClO2 into the enclosed truck before closing the rear doors. The spoiling of food begins from invisible surface contaminants. ClO2 eradicates such bacteria."
And I learned this first hand before searching for it on the web to confirm. A truck driver was explaining how when transporting strawberries, chlorine vapor kept his strawberries from molding and therefore looking pretty and lasting longer.

Of course we already knew conventional strawberries have some of the worst pesticides and poisons sprayed on them to keep the pests away (makes sense, they are sweet and delicious, what little critter wouldn't want to take a bite of that?!) and not only are those chemicals driven into the plant itself, but since they are hard to wash, they cannot be removed from the outside either. And now we learn about this little trick of chlorine gas to keep them looking freshly picked. Ahh, things are not always as they appear.

While searching for this I also learned that all those convenient freshly cut fruits and vegetables we see in the produce counter are most probably dipped in a chlorine solution before cutting and again after cutting before being packaged and placed on the store shelf for our purchase so that they stay fresher longer.

Double-dipped chlorine strawberries gassed with chlorine in transit and a side of extra harmful pesticides from the farm, anyone? Yup, sounds fresh to me! Yet another reason to go organic.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weight Loss, Exercise, Food

We've been busy, school starting, planning school lunches and missing our normal giant lunch that I'd make for the family, the buying club, well, life, you know how it goes. But we've also been busy losing weight, without trying, just from our more refined eating. So it's interesting today reading the article in Time since our exercise level has not changed. They explain that the BMI is important, not necessarily exercise level and that exercise does not mean healthier or that we'll lose weight.

There have also been articles in how organics, less chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, on our food allow our liver to use the fat instead of cleansing our bodies like mad; eating organic food allows our body to function optimally and do what it's suppose to do for us and therefore helps us lose weight too.

There are have also been recent articles on the "optimal" diet for a human being like this one from MSN The Healthiest Foods On Earth. Turns out the best diet is, drum roll, is real food!

Simplistic? It all makes sense and now we understand why we are losing weight and feeling better. In our family, we eat what we want but we only eat real food. If it comes in a box with a list of ingredients, it's not in our house. Our meals always include vegetables, even breakfast. Fruit is a standard snack. Meals always include plenty of vegetables and we try to eat salad every day topped with all sorts of things from fresh and dried fruit, to olives and cheese, or canned fish and meats. Meals are always delicious, colorful, and varied. Soups and stir-fries are standard but with different mixes of vegetables and/or meats.

Even school lunches, while they may include sandwiches (usually on sprouted wheat or rice or spelt bread), they always include at least 2 fresh fruits (an apple, strawberries, a pear or plum) and maybe a dried fruit or nuts (raisins, trail mix, dried mango) and sometimes a cookie I make with molasses and maple syrup - so they have a big variety and lots of different textures and colors and nice things to keep them occupied but nothing that comes in a box with a nutritional label on it.

I know we are lucky. We don't even want the stuff they label as food, even my kids. But I know there are so many out there that don't even know where to start. So many don't even know what food would be, how to prepare it, what to eat if you cut out something that comes from a box. I know for those, it's a struggle at first and I wish you great success in learning about food and know that you will learn about yourself and life in the process.

We eat well. I still make meals at home from real foods (grassfed meats and dairy including butter and free roaming preferably pastured eggs, coconut and olive oil, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, wild fish) and we feel good. The way our clothes fit show the improvement yet, and I'm embarrassed to say, my real exercise is my fingertips on the key board. I'd still love to have more muscle definition and lift weights but I guess I don't want it badly enough or I would have started already. Either way I'm feeling good about my family and our level of health.

Food is so important. It is what nourishes our body and our soul. It is amazing that we so freely gave up the thing that sustains us as beings and attaches us to the world to big agri-biz. They do not have our health as their goal, even when the label shouts out some bold benefit. Understandably, their focus is their bottom line, not ours. If we choose real foods, those without a long list of ingredients, if we choose to get back in the kitchen, if we choose to cook and eat with friends and to prepare meals together, then we will have succeeded in finding real food and taking back our life amongst the chaos of what they tell us is food.

What we eat is such a big choice we make each day. We set an example for children in how and what we eat. We impact the planet in the choices we make in our food: from the packaging, the fuel used to transport it, the chemicals used to create it, the family farms we are supporting in other countries, the small communities that need our support despite that item being a bit more money than another made from the giant factory farm. We need to take responsibility for that act instead of food being a last thought when we are just starving.

I still sit in disbelief that fast food chains exist. Certainly I understand the convenience and the price, but what is the real cost? I guess if it were a more immediate and direct link, it would be easier to give it up, but it's not. Many still do not correlate the disease, our societal obesity, our lack of health with the fast food chains, with the fact that there are only a handful of the same big food distributors that service all the restaurants, with the sad truth that we have freely offered up our food choices so that we can run in and grab something because we think that adds to our life.

To me food is life. Food creates memories. Food joins the family and can even bring peace. We really are what we eat and what we choose to eat impacts our world and our future.