Archive for the ‘Food Inc.’ Category

THIS WEEK HAS BEEN so crazy!   I’ve been cooking and shopping for food, reading about cool things to do for Earth Week, and last night I had a group of friends over to watch Food, Inc.  One of the guests had seen it previously, so it felt good to share the info, albeit disturbing, with my good friends. 

We started off the evening with a little wine tasting of some local and regional wines.   Two guests brought wine (discussed in detail, above).   Tracy brought some delish homemade sweet bread, that we divvied up at the end of the night, we all wanted more!   Other snacks were chips & salsa (organic corn – genetically modified?  who knows – we discussed), a fruit salad and an agave popcorn mix I made (recipe on 14 Months to 50 Facebook ) .  

I had seen the movie before but had forgotten just how many facts are packed into it.  Almost every line of the movie, text on the screen or spoken, is a bit of amazing shocking information.   So much is learned about mass food production, farming, and the politics of the food industry from this movie.  And the viewer is introduced to such likeable people as Michael Pollan and farmer Joel Salatin, among others.   I said more than once, “Oh, I love this guy” as people were introduced in the movie.  

We had time to have small discussions during the movie, and had a more involved discussion afterward.  Some people were of the opinion that we can’t do anything about any of it, or that we can’t possibly find truly healthy food to eat.   I argued that we can, and that the bad food can be avoided, or that a person can at least try by eating organic, by finding organic locally grown food, by just being conscious when you eat and shop.  We talked about where we shop for organics locally.  We discussed if we eliminate certain foods from our diet, what foods could replace those.  I dragged some of my food out a couple of times to show what I buy.  Milk was a big topic, and we talked about almond milk as an option.  And we discussed the whole idea of voting with your purchases.  With purchases, consumers tell stores what they do and do not want on the shelves.  That’s a lot of power and influence that we all seem to forget we have.  Food, Inc. has reminded us all (those who have watched it) that we have that power and should use it wisely.

Altogether, I would say my friends went away from the viewing with a lot of things in their heads to sort out, new information and a new perspective.   I could tell that everyone was truly thinking about their own diet and food choices, and how they can improve their lifestyles for their own well-being.  I think everyone is fairly disgusted by the practices of the large food production companies, and no one wants to support those kinds of practices.

So, to my party attendees:   thanks to all of you for coming — I feel good spreading the word — thanks for letting me!   

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IF YOU HAD SUGGESTED SIX MONTHS AGO that I would be almost totally vegetarian by April, we would have had a good laugh.   How did this happen anyway?   I think anyone’s evolution with food happens naturally, as you educate yourself about how food works in the body and as you experience it.   Those of you who have been with me all along know I started this blog because of “You on a Diet”, by Dr. Mehmet Oz.    In the book and on his show, Dr. Oz is so good at breaking down the functions of food in the body, how the body reacts and processes food, and how we experience those processes.   He really does give you pause with his explanations — food for thought.  

As I do with most things, I ran with the info from Dr. Oz.  I did his pantry cleanout, removing anything bad from my house (although I do still have bags of white flour – who can throw out whole bags of flour?).    So my first steps were to remove sugar and flour from my diet.   Most of you probably realize this, but when you remove flour and processed sugar from the normal American diet, you’re kind of left with fruits, vegetables, meat, whole grains, nuts and that’s about it. 

You also still have things like diet coke and coffee to wrestle with.   I am against artificial sweeteners; I just don’t think they are good for people.   Some studies show artificial sweeteners have a neurological effect on long-term users.   I’m a long-term user (30 years) and  I have the worst memory of anyone I know.  Soft drinks also contain bone-destroying phosphorus-something-or-other — bad.  That’s scary.   So I tried to eliminate diet coke, but I do backslide and still have one occasionally.

My next step was trying to eliminate all caffeine, which I now know is impossible for me.   I still have coffee a few times a week, and after experimenting with agave nectar and honey, I find that coffee with a spoon of raw sugar and some organic skim milk is my thing.  I tried almond milk in coffee and it just wasn’t the flavor I was going for.   But I do drink hot tea with honey and almond milk.

So around the same time I was getting into Dr. Oz, I saw the movie Food, Inc.   And a couple of things really hit me from that movie.   First, Monsanto patenting genetically modified seeds, spying on farmers, and suing anyone who saved seed struck me as being so crazy, far-fetched and sci-fi that I really carried that with me for a long time.  Monsanto controlling almost ALL of the soybean and corn seed really bothers me.  And Monsanto creating a Round-up resistant soy plant bugs me.  Think about that.  Round-up resistant.  No, this does not mean that Round-up does not get on the soy.  This means they can pour Round-up over the plant, and it will kill all plants around it but not the soy plant, which probably means the soy plants are covered with Round-up regularly.  Soy – our healthy bean, able to be doused in Round-up.  Oh, goody.  And about that corn:  almost all farmed creatures are fed corn now, even farm-grown shrimp and fish.  So even when you eat fish, you are being touched by genetically modified corn!  Fish don’t eat corn!  Fish and corn would have never ever even met on this planet!  If these things don’t freak people out, then we’re sunk.  They astound me.

The second thing that stuck with me in Food, Inc. was the treatment of the chicken farmers by the big companies.   Pursuaded to open these huge facilities by Tyson (or whichever company), enticed by the company paying for certain things (providing the chicks, lending them money beyond their means to build facilities) the farmers do all the work and pay the company back with all their profits.  I think the quote was that a farmer makes $18,000 a year income raising hundreds of thousands of chickens.   Pathetic.  Sad.   The third thing was the chickens themselves.  The growth hormones cause them to grow so fast that their bodies and organs can’t keep up,  all they are is huge breasts.  So they can’t walk, or move, and they are literally wall to wall in the HUGEST buildings.   It’s disgusting.   And knowing all of that, how could anyone support it?  How could you bring  yourself to go into a store and buy chicken from one of those companies?   I can’t – so that’s how I got to where I am.   

So now I eat fish once every couple of weeks and that’s pretty much about it for meat.   I would eat organic beef, or any organic meat, but today it’s just easier to eliminate meat.   I haven’t really missed it, so it’s not a huge sacrifice or something I really wish I could have.  I just don’t need it or want it.

So, where was I?  I watched Food, Inc., and I was following Dr. Oz’s diet, and then suddenly I was evolving into my own food rules.   I realized that health was taking the forefront and weight loss was not an issue for me.  I started trying to buy only organic, and I am proud to say I eat mostly organic.   If I’m at the store and I have limited time and the juices aren’t all organic, I’ll just buy what is on the shelf.   I’m reasonable afterall (mostly).  The step to organic was easy for me.   No one has time to research every company, to hear the horror stories of every bad food, how it’s made and all the awful things in it.  But we can reasonably assume if we can’t pronounce the ingredients, it’s bad.   We can also stick to purer foods that have no ingredients.  And we can simplify and just make sure we get the best possible food we can, without all the work, and buy organic.   That’s what I do.

I had stopped eating grains because I have a problem with starches (as in I love them with butter and cheese) and it was easier for me to eliminate all bread and all pasta and all cereal.  So I did.  For two months, I had no grains.    I have always loved fresh fruits and vegetables, so living on them, along with juice and nuts, eggs and milk, was not that difficult.   I’m still doing it!   I’m slowly adding grains back into my diet, but it’s happening naturally.  I eat things like a slice of bread or some whole wheat pasta when I need a more filling meal. 

I had noticed when I would eat a piece of bread or any kind of starchy thing after not having them for a couple of months, that they were SO filling — so ridiculously filling!   And it was a different kind of full.  When I eat fruits and vegetables, I feel satisfied and “done.”   But I have noticed that old uncomfortably full feeling, that feeling of heaviness and what I used to think meant feeling full, can only come from eating flour and starches.  They are amazingly good at making the stomach feel all loaded up.  Once you’ve gone without feeling that for a long time, it’s uncomfortable to feel it again.   I think I’ve bought one or two loaves of bread in three months and I only bought butter yesterday for the first time since December.   And last night I made 100% whole wheat spaghetti for dinner.   It’s a start.   I know grains are necessary so I’m working on it.

Another thing I’ve learned is that fast food (and almost all restaurant food) is really bad – and your body knows it and tries to tell you.    It is a rare thing to walk into a restaurant and find something TRULY healthy.  This is fodder for another blog entry, but the short story is, if you stop eating out for even one month — and I mean eat nothing but food from your house — then go out for one meal, anywhere, at almost any restaurant or fast food place, you will know what I mean.  Your body will freak when you hit it with that food.   You’ll be thirsty for days from the salt,  you’ll have intestinal reactions,  it will feel awful in your stomach.  You will taste sugar in bread, sugar in sauces, things will be so salty you can’t keep them in your mouth.   It’s enough to keep you from going back.   And when you DO find a good healthy place to eat and find a good healthy meal at that place, try it.  Your body will tell you if that place serves good food.  I guarantee it.   And then, like me, you’ll be amazed when you look around and realize how many people eat truly bad food, every meal, every day,  and for years.    And then you’ll look at kids and what they are eating — at home as well as at school — and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.  And when you see a small child putting a Chicken McNugget in their mouth, you’ll cringe.

And speaking of grains . . . I have to get that bread baked today.   I’ll be back with that later.

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I was very excited toGo see Food, Inc. ! see that Food, Inc. had been nominated for Documentary Feature Film last night.  I wish it had won so more people would see it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, go rent it.  It’s an important documentary full of valuable information.    

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