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Monday, February 22, 2010

How Crude!

I've been researching how to get closer to the natural state of our food and how the food I eat is being raised, etc. when I gathered some information from a friend, who has a child with food sensitivities, and how foods - certain brands of food - contribute to behavior problems. She saw my interest and brought me a great deal of information to read about a program from the Feingold Association . One of the first things that caught my eye was the heading: "Many learning and behavior problems begin in your grocery cart." As I began reading and learning about this program, I was appalled at what I learned about our USA food manufacturers and what EXACTLY goes into our food. Let me share just a bit of info from their program with you:

I'm sure you've seen them..."Yellow No.5," "Red 40," Blue#1," etc. Do you know where these food dyes come from? Those pretty colors that make the "fruit punch" red, the Jell-O green and the oatmeal blue are made from (are you sitting down?) petroleum - crude oil - which is also the source for gasoline!!!! If you go look in your pantry or in your kitchen cupboards and look at all the nutrition labels on your items, I think you will be shocked at how much crude oil appears in your food.

The colorings and flavorings in foods are combinations of many chemicals, both natural and synthetic. An artificial flavoring is synthetic and may be composed of hundreds of separate chemicals and there is no restriction on what a company can use to flavor food. One source for imitation vanilla flavoring (called "vanillin" and probably is in your cereal) is the waste product of paper mills!!! Some companies built factories next to the pulp mills to turn the undesirable by-product into imitation flavoring, widely used in many cookies, candies, and other foods (as I found on my Wheaties Fuel cereal).

Artificial preservatives (synthetic) are found in many foods (especially in the US) and like the food dyes, are made from petroleum (crude oil). Often they are NOT LISTED in the ingredients, but most of the time you see them as "BHT", "BHA", and "TBHQ." These chemicals may be listed as "anti-oxidants" because they prevent the fats in foods from "oxidizing" or becoming rancid (spoiling). There are many natural beneficial anti-oxidants, but they are much more expensive than the synthetic versions! I've heard some people say that "it's a conspiracy" from the food manufacturers...I'm not going to go there, but I do find it amazing that families on fixed/tight budgets can only afford the food with crude oil in them! There was a time when JT and I could barely afford to eat dirt (due to job losses from Sept. 11) and we could only afford the Wal-Mart brand white bread that was 50 cents (and full of chemicals) and cereals full of HFCS and artificial everything!! We are now in a different season of life and God has blessed us 100-fold. We are able to afford the "healthier" and more natural foods, but we will go broke doing it!! It costs more to eat well, no doubt about that, and I think it's a shame that more manufacturers can't help give our families better food for a more affordable price.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In the Beginning, There Was All Natural

The other day, I went grocery shopping in a store that I don't regularly shop in. Toward the back of the store, there is a little shelf area where they place items that are reduced price or going out of stock. I happened to see boxes of cereal that had "Ezekiel 4:9" on the front. What???? I pick up the box and along with the big picture of a spoonful of cereal are the words from the Holy Bible: "Take also unto thee wheat and barley and beans and lentils and millet and spelt and put them in one vessel and make bread of it..." ~Ezekiel 4:9. I can't believe my eyes. I flipped the box around and read some of the side panel: "We discovered when these six grains and legumes are sprouted and combined, an amazing thing happens. A complete protein is created that closely parallels the protein found in milk and eggs. In fact, the protein quality is so high, that it is 84.3% as efficient as the highest recognized source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. Plus, there are 18 amino acids present in this unique cereal - from all vegetable sources." I was intrigued...I bought a box to try.

It reminds me of Grape Nuts cereal...with raisins. The Ezekiel 4:9 cereal I bought was "cinnamon raisin" (2 things I like) and I ate it with skim milk. In just 1/2 cup of cereal there are 190 calories, only 1 gram of fat and 7 grams of protein! Not to forget the vitamins - it's loaded. One of the BEST cereals, nutritionally speaking, that I've ever had. It's very crunchy, but if you pour your milk on it then put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, it reduces the crunch factor a little bit. Ya know, if you have dental work, you may want to take this approach! All-in-all, I thought it was not bad! It lasted me until lunch!

I visited Food For Life today to read more about them. They have many things to offer for gluten/wheat free diets, yeast free products, diabetic friendly items and products that are high in fiber. They do something called "sprouting" to their grains. What is sprouting? Well, I'm glad you asked. I pulled this from their site: "Sprouting is the only way to release all the vital nutrients stored in whole grains. The sprouting process activates beneficial enzymes which cause the grains to sprout and become living and nutrient-rich. Stores of vitamins and minerals dramatically increase over the amount available in flour. Sprouting also converts the carbohydrates in grains into maltose, which is ordinarily done by the body during digestion, thereby predigesting nutrients for you. The enzymatic action enables the body to assimilate the vitamins and minerals more efficiently. Plus, the sprouting process naturally increases the protein content and decreases the calories and carbohydrates found in the original grain." Do you think they did this in the days of Ezekiel? Nonetheless, it's getting closer to all natural eating.

Personally, I believe I should be getting closer to the original state of the food - it's natural state. For example, in our house, we ask the kids: "Did God make the powdered cheese that goes in the macaroni and cheese from a box?" Well, no. We believe that God DID make the cow that gives the milk for cheese. God created the grain that is harvested and made into noodles. So we make mac'n cheese with whole grain noodles, real butter, milk and cheese. In addition to getting closer to the original state of the food, we are going to get our vegetables from a farm this year instead of the store. We are participating in a CSA(community supported agriculture) with a local farm and all our produce will come directly from the farm for 20 weeks. We also have a ton of deer meat in the freezer - the leanest meat you can get - thanks to JT's hunting abilities. We are stocked up for quite a while in that department. Talk about original state of the food...and all-natural!

I'm inspired! I really want to know more about where my food is coming from, how it's being raised and that it is being raised for flavor, not for shelf-life. I'm not surprised that healthy living and balanced nutrition is found in the Bible - after all it's where it all started (IMHO).