There’s Food and Then There’s Food

Let’s face it, we live in America, Land of Plenty. We have become used to convenience, and quick affordable food products. We are a busy society. But at what cost?

The food industry has created and conveniently packaged, what Michael Pollan calls “food-like-substances”. They look like food, and they even taste like food, but they are laden with chemicals, synthesized nutrients, and are often highly processed.

I recently saw an ad for a a new product which would increase your fiber. A yogurt and oatmeal granola with fruit. Okay… sweetened yogurt, sweetened granola and sweetened fruit. Why not just enjoy some thick rolled oats, some plain low fat kefir or Greek yogurt and some raw nuts and berries or dried raisins. Trust me, you’ll be surprised to actually taste the ingredients and not be overladen with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

I also caught another news story about – believe it or don’t: Bacon and eggs for breakfast can set your body up to better metabolize fat throughout the day. Hook us in by telling us it’s okay to eat bacon and eggs. That yummy goodness comfort food should grab our attention. But what they really meant to say was start your day by eating a little good fat and it would set your body up to better metabolize fat. Egg whites, the protein and yolks, the fat (but also has a cholesterol component) and bacon, full of saturated fats may set your body up to metabolize fat, but at what cost? Did they stop to think about coronary artery disease? I’ll opt for an omelet with some avocado and salsa made with a dash of olive oil.

Food manufacturers love to target children. Hook the kids and they will unrelentingly bug their parents until they try the newest snack or lunch to pack. If you read the labels, most popular ones are high in sodium, artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and preservatives. How much harder is it really, to pack your child’s lunch with fresh veggies, fresh fruit or natural fruit leather, and some home grilled chicken strips or natural peanut butter and whole grain bread or crackers.

Make your meals from things you would have in your pantry, like pasta, chicken broth, peas, and sea salt. Do you have a bottle of powdered chicken, calcium silicate, sodium triphosphate or disodium guanylate in YOUR pantry? I didn’t think so, unless of course you are Nissin Foods, who are quick to point out that their product contains 0 g of trans fats.

Many of the food additives and “food-like-substances” are relatively new and we have no longitudinal studies available to assess the effect they have on the human body. We do know that obesity, heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes are on the rise in this country and are occurring in younger populations at an alarming rate.

If you want an adventure, try out “no barcode” shopping – shop at a farmers market. Go to a local artisan bakery and pick out a loaf of fresh baked bread. Visit a meat market and have the butcher wrap your chicken breast in a piece of butcher paper.

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