Corn, The Conclusion.
I have been thinking about how to bring my posts about my search for corn in our food to an appropriate conclusion. I mean, I expected to be shocked and appalled all the corn-derived fake food on my shelves, despite our attempt to eat healthy. Sure I found a few icky things, mostly preservatives and corn-derived sugars. I got the push I needed to strengthen my resolve to make my own breads, pitas, crackers, cookies, ect. I won’t buy any more cream cheese. But, other then that, both posts were sadly anticlimactic.
Then I started thinking about how it is that, despite rows and rows of food at the supermarket that are full of fake food, our family manages to do weekly grocery shopping at a big name supermarket and come out mostly unscathed? So here it is, my top tips for avoiding fake food and eating real food.
*Side note: In the interest in full disclosure for anyone who doesn’t know me, let me confess this: I am far far from perfect when it come to eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight. I love carbs, a lot. I can’t resist a treat when I get my latte. I bake a lot of muffins. I have baby weight and then some and I need to get more exercise. If I am going to give out advice, I figure you should know that just because we tend to eat mostly ‘real’ food, doesn’t mean we are the example of health. Okay now that I have said that…. back to my top tips:
1) Read labels
Really. I know you don’t want to. It takes too much time, you think. Trust me, once you start you won’t even notice you do it. And once you have zeroed in on which brand of a particular item is the best you just keep on buying it and don’t need to read the label anymore. I recommend reading both the ingredient list and the nutritional information. Go for the products with the shortest list of ingredients, no added sugar, high fibre if possible (more then 4 grams per serving), no trans fat and low saturated fat.
2) Be wary of food with health claims
The trend is for over-processed food to use ‘healthy’ additives just so they can make a health food claim. Omega oils, fiber, probiotics, prebiotics, antioxidants are all added to foods in order to be able to put a flashy phrase on the package. While the product may be good, don’t assume something is healthy because they highlight a health feature. A cookie may have fiber, but it is still a cookie. (Not that that really stops me… I am just sayin’) Some of these options may be good alternatives. For example, I am a huge fan of mayo made with olive oil. Less saturated fat, same great taste. Just read the labels to make sure the health claim is not empty and don’t use these food as substitutes for fresh fruits and veggies that are a much better source of vitamins and nutrients.
3) Toss the junk food
Remember all the corn that Pollan says we eat? Well, a lot of it is in your favourite pop, juice and snack food. I’m just sayin’.
4) Focus on your meat and dairy
Sure, your fresh meat and dairy doesn’t have a long list of ingredients full of unpronounceable additives (if it does… well… gross). The problem is that it should. What goes into your cow, pig or chicken should be on the label, in my opinion, because it does get into your food. I know they claim it doesn’t, or it is in such small amounts that it won’t hurt you, but I just don’t buy it. I am not a scientist, I can not prove this, but my gut just tells me it is not a good idea to buy a steak or milk from a cow who has been feed/injected with a cocktail of supplements, additives, drugs and corn. (Cows did not evolve eating corn and it really messes with their systems… again watch “Food Inc”.)
Here is the upside: Organic milk and meat tastes WAY WAY better. I will be honest, while we buy Organic milk all the time (despite it’s crazy high price) we don’t always buy Organic meat. Right now I am buying the ‘free from’ line at Superstore, which claims to be hormone and antibiotic free, grain fed and raised ‘ethically’. I don’t know if that grain is corn…. it probably is. But if we had the money we would go back to the organic meat from Sunworks farms (www.sunworksfarms.com) in a flash. Anyway, my point is that since you don’t know what goes into your milk and meat, organic is worth considering.
5) Shop the natural aisle
More and more the big name stores are coming out with their own brand of organics. They are well priced and pretty good. There is a huge debate about these products and if they are really living up to the true meaning of organic. Do they produce food on such a large scale that they aren’t really the same as the small scale, local organic farms? Yes, true, these organics are not the same as those you buy directly from the small producer at the farmers market. However, I believe by buying them you are sending a message to your supermarket that you prefer your food organic and natural. I love the food from my farmers market producers, but I don’t think it is realistic (affordable) to buy only from them. We need some ‘industrial’ scale food. I would just prefer that industrial scale food to be as organic and environmentally friendly as possible. But again, I go back to #1; read the label. Just because it says organic doesn’t make it healthy.
6) Make your own ‘convenience’ food.
I have starting really trying to make a BIG batch of something on one of the weekend nights. Something like a soup, stew or baked dish that I can portion into 2-3 meals. One for that night, and then two I can freeze for later. That way, when we need a quick meal, I just heat it up and toss a salad.
Those are my ideas, what are yours?
(Edited for grammar, as my husband has pointed out that my pre-publish read through failed to pick up on a number of mistakes. Thank goodness I have a husband who has better attention to detail then I do).