Friday, February 6, 2009

Load Your Fork with Knowledge

My husband shared this article with me today, and I couldn't agree more with the content of it. Organic food is a nice idea with several benefits, but it isn't the only agricultural solution out there. And personally, I don't feel guilty for feeding my family healthy food (lots of produce, red meat only on occasion) that isn't 100% organic. I've done a lot of reading on the subject, and I'm only encouraging everyone out there to do their own. This article uses the phrase "knee-jerk reaction," and I think that says it all when it comes to a lot of the thinking that is currently out there, pushing agendas in everything from breast feeding to celery farming.

I'd also like to encourage everyone to read up on GMOs, which I don't believe to be the enemy many think of them as. They can actually help solve the world hunger problem by giving us flood or drought-resistant grains, or by making a plant crop unappealing to certain pests, or by maximizing yield (here is another good article, and another.) I find it interesting that the same groups of people who are against a pest-resistant GMOs are also against pesticides. To me, the "pro-naturals" should be into the idea. Humans have been genetically modifying plants for millions of years. Only in the past, we've done it on the "outside": by breeding the qualities we want into a plant or animal. GMOs are simply a shortcut to that, and in the meantime, fewer people might starve.

Years ago I remember seeing an amusing nutritionist on WTTW talking about a client of his who tried to do everything "natural." She insisted that honey wasn't the same as putting sugar on her cereal, because "the little bees make it." He told her that "natural" wasn't always better, because after all, "syphilis is natural." I've never forgotten that. There is a growing anti-science and anti-industry movement in this country that I find somewhat alarming (particularly the former). But if you make your own decisions based on facts and information, and not knee-jerk reactions, you won't have to worry about anyone's agenda.


  1. Hee hee. No, don't get me wrong. There are things I choose to buy organic, too (I used to buy the milk, and I may go back once my daughter can drink it), and I think organic meat tastes great. But the standards for meat to be labeled "organic" are pretty strict, and not so much for certain produce types. And I mean, they aren't puttin steroids in the corn, or anti-biotics for that matter. I just think everyone should read about what that label means for each particular food, since the standards are so different for every food item.

    Also, I feel that everyone can start in a bit more of a basic sense. I used to work with someone who was addicted to that organic aisle, but still bought the junkfood, plus lots of candy. I mean, organic potato chips are still potato chips!! :P

  2. LOL. Organic doesn't mean it is lower in fat or calories, sister!

  3. I totally agree with you, Brooke. I try to get a lot of stuff from the "natural food aisle" (or whatever they call it at our grocery store) mostly because I can actually pronounce the ingredients and there's no high fructose corn syrup. (I once went through our entire pantry to eliminate everything with hfcs as one of the first 3 ingredients on the label, and was shocked with how much I pulled out of there!) I'm also a big fan of meat & dairy products that don't have hormones & trace antibiotics in them. In fact, now that I'm used to the taste of organic milk, regular milk tastes "off" to me. Sadly, we don't have relatively easy and affordable access to organic meat, so our compromise is that we buy from a local butcher that gets all his meat from the same farm in Indiana. Somehow, knowing that our butcher actually knows where the meat is coming from makes me feel better than I would buying who-knows-how-old packaged meat from the Super WalMart meat aisle.

    Don't get me wrong, we'll eat a Little Caesar's Pizza and the occasional trip to McDonalds just like the next guy, so we're not food nazis around here. But all the chemicals & food recalls freak me out enough to do what I can to buy locally and from smaller companies.

  4. That's something else I'd like to point out, though: many of the recent food recalls (like the peanut butter) ARE from organic and local companies. It's all a trade-off, but some of the chemicals organic food eliminates can actually increase the risk of contamination... Don't forget, syphilis is natural!

    I had a vegetarian patient tell me that "meat is too scary... All those food recalls.." And I was like, "Huh? The last five I remember are peanut butter, tomatoes, peppers, green onions and spinach." Brings me back to my point - people tend to spin things to suit their own agendas.

    I love Amy's mac and cheese! But you know, NONE of the produce has corn syrup in it, even the non-organic. I don't buy anything (jar sauce, bread, etc.) with hfcs in it, and I never need to go into the "special" aisle. I just try to stay out of the dry foods aisles as much as I can... All of them. They are all highly processed foods, even the organic ones. But I agree with you, Nicole... Once you start reading labels, it ain't easy!

    How does everyone like those new corn syrup ads? Geez. "It's fine, if used in moderation." Right. And that would be easy to do, if it wasn't in EVERYTHING.

  5. Just backing up the wife. Yes, you don't need to use the organic food aisle to find foods with HFCS. There are certain foods that I just know to be on the lookout for and I will sometimes pick up and read the labels on a dozen loaves of bread before I find one where I hit the jackpot.

    Of course, we're lucky enough to have lots of grocery stores around us and they're all large enough that we probably have close to 100 different breads to choose from. Then I think about people who are from smaller towns who maybe have 5 different breads to choose from, and they're probably just stuck with the HFCS-laden products. They don't really have the options. Which sucks.

  6. Gah! That should have said "you don’t need to use the organic food aisle to find foods WITHOUT HFCS", not "with".