29 July 2009

What Not To Eat

Food products are everywhere and unfortunately I'm not talking about tupperware or toaster ovens (though I might as well be). I'm talking about items produced for human consumption that have been processed and hydrogenated and fortified and skimmed and pasteurized and enriched and refined and carbonated and all those other things they do that pass for "food" these days. Think about it. Most of our great grandparents had never even heard of some of the stuff on the shevles now.

So what is a food product? There's a couple simple ways to tell. These guidelines however, are not 100% true 100% of the time, but will help you in making decisions about what to buy and what to put back on the shelf.

1. It has a package. Packaged foods are usually a sign that the product has been through some sort of processing facility and that some sort of effort has been made to make that food last longer than it realistically should. Which leads us to...

2. It doesn't rot or go rancid. It goes stale. Meat goes rancid. Milk goes stale. Onions rot. Cheez-Its go stale. Apples rot. Bread goes stale. Real food is living matter that has only a certain amount of time to be consumed.

3. The package makes health claims or has unpronounceable/unfamiliar ingredients. See #1.... Have you ever read (or tried to say) what's in a Special K Protein Bar? Or soy milk? Or Lucky Charms? Case closed.

4. The ingredients list high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oil. Don't get me started. High fructose corn syrup isn't a whole lot worse for you than real sugar. I'll buy that. But it's still sugar. Hydrogenated oils are also a terrible breed of human-made fat that can lower HDL cholesterol ("healthy") and raise LDL cholesterol ("lousy"). You'll hear me discuss both of these menaces more indepth at another time.

*NEW* 5. It looks the same every time you eat it. A piece of meat or an onion is real, organic matter that grew and developed on its own, therefore each is individual and unique (read: real food). Ketchup and Fritos will forever look and taste exactly the same (read: processed garbage).

So there you have it. These are just a few ways to tell if you have a nasty food product on your hands. A good way to prevent these from entering your home is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The aisles are generally filled with the shelf stable, processed, hydrongenated, yadda, yadda crap that the employees don't have to worry about checking. Also, most farmer's markets are completely devoid of Kraft, General Mills, and Nabisco's pretty packages.

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