The first thing I noticed, when cutting back on sodium, was that better quality ingredients needed less seasoning to begin with. As I spent more time reading and learning about food, I discovered that organic produce is higher in vitamins and minerals than "conventional" fruits and vegetables. When cattle graze in a pasture like nature intended, instead of fed grains in a feedlot, beef and milk are more nutrient-dense. The same goes for the eggs of chickens running around in a yard eating bugs as opposed to the "factory farm" eggs from the grocery store. Pork raised the "old fashioned way" tastes better and is better for you than grocery store/ "factory farm" pork. Finding organic produce and animal products raised the way my great-grandparents did takes more time than a trip to the grocery store but is really worth it with respect to food value and taste.
Milk is a special consideration. Did you know that use of the artificial hormone, recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), given to cattle to increase milk production, has been linked to breast cancer? While it has now been banned in Canada, Japan, the European Union and Australia, the FDA approves its use in the United States. To mitigate consumer concerns, it is actually illegal in many states to label a brand of milk as NOT containing the hormone. To find a brand of milk that did not contain trace amounts of this artificial hormone, I had to directly contact dairies to ask if they accepted milk from farmers who used it on their cattle. Treating cows with this hormone also leads to mastitis, which is treated with antibiotics, which gets into milk in trace amounts... If raw milk sales were legal in Iowa I would purchase milk right from a farm so I could see the condition of the cattle for myself. Healthier cows make better milk.
We've known since the 70's about the health risks associated with artificial food colours, nitrates, monosodium glutamate, and other food additives. I've been avoiding these chemicals for years, and cooking from scratch made it easier. While my trained eye can pick "monosodium glutamate" from a long ingredients list on a can of soup, if I make it myself I know exactly what it contains.
The most tedious task is avoiding genetically modified foods. Glyphosate ("RoundUp") has been linked to health issues including birth defects, endocrine disruption, and cancer. A common application of genetic engineering is "RoundUp Readiness," which makes the target plant immune to glyphosate so it can be applied to (theoretically) kill off only the weeds. The target plants absorb the glyphosate and residual amounts contaminate food. There is also concern that inserting genes from one organism to another increases the risks of allergic reactions and that our bodies cannot process new and unusual proteins. Genetically modified foods are not labelled in the United States; I try to completely avoid soy, canola, and corn products unless they are labelled "organic" because the vast majority of these crops are genetically modified.
You can see how it can be time consuming to cook from scratch, using quality ingredients not always available at our grocery store, while avoiding certain chemicals and genetically modified foods. I see it as part of a treatment plan for a particular condition (high blood pressure) while looking after the general wellbeing of all of us and trying to avoid known carcinogens for the sake of our children. Maybe I am just a crazy-lady who needs a tin-foil hat for her birthday. I'll say it again:
"I'd rather spend my time in the kitchen than in a hospital room."
|They are growing up, but will always be my babies.
I shared this post with these link-ups where bloggers share their ideas and natural food recipes: Monday Mania, Homestead Barn Hop, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Healthy2Day Wednesdays, Thriving Thursdays and Fight Back! Friday.