Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You’re eating engineered food, but you don’t know it

             Experimental food. Food that has been engineered to produce its own pesticides. Food that isn’t labeled as containing genetically engineered ingredients and, since it’s a new thing, we humans have no idea what the long term effects on our own health will be. Welcome to the 21st century food supply!
 I’ve known about and tried to avoid GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) for years, but lately have done some more reading and gotten riled up all over again because of how prevalent these ingredients are in our broken food chain.
In a statement from the Center for Food Safety, most Americans say they wouldn’t eat food containing GMO’s if it was labeled. But neither the US or Canada, unlike most industrialized countries, require foods containing GMO’s to be labeled at all. That’s messed up. We have a right to know what we’re consuming. And if you’re buying and consuming commercial brands of cereal, conventional milk, factory farmed meat, soy, and on and on, you’re consuming genetically engineered food.
One of the biggest biotech conglomerates engineering these genetically modified crops and seeds is the one that makes toxic Round-Up. This is what the agribusiness is now—huge conglomerates making chemicals and supplying engineered crops to the masses.
This is what I hate about food shopping. I have to examine every freaking ingredient label for what I want to avoid. High Fructose Corn Syrup? That’s GMO corn. Nope. Milk containing rBST or rBGH? That’s genetically engineered hormones to make cows produce more milk. Nope. Factory farmed meat? Those animals have been fattened with GMO corn, which is most certainly not their natural diet. Nope.
I’m losing my appetite just thinking about grocery shopping.
Here are the ‘Big Four’ common GMO ingredients to avoid: Corn, Soy, Canola, and Cottonseed oil. Be aware and concerned about our food supply.
For more info, check out:
Organicconsumers.org—Links to articles and calls to action
Truefoodnow.org—A Shopper’s Guide—great reference for brands to look for and brands to avoid.

Committing to eating healthier in 2012

With 2012 and New Year’s resolutions looming on the horizon, I thought I’d briefly cover a topic I get asked a lot by those who know I’m pretty health and environmentally conscious: what do you eat?
             Basically, I strive to eat real food—food that’s as close to its natural state as possible. I’m not a vegetarian, I do eat meat occasionally and I try to eat local meat when I do. I eat real butter and have whole milk on my cereal. I use half & half in my coffee (which I’m always trying to cut back on). I buy organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. I cook beans a lot and use them in recipes for protein and other nutrients. I try to buy local eggs when I can.
            We’re lucky here in this area to have a grocery bin delivery company called Green B.E.A.N delivery. They deliver bins of fruit and vegetables—many are organic and local when possible. They have lots of local items you can select from the menu, and it comes right to your door.
            One thing I hear a lot is that it’s expensive to eat natural, whole foods. Yes, you’ll pay more for your food generally. My philosophy is to pay more for better food and eat less of it.
I drink mostly water. Soda and most fruit juices are pure empty calories with food dyes and tons of sugar. Diet soda—though calorie free—is probably also one of the worst as far as negative effects it has on the body. I do have a sweet tooth and love almost anything sweet. I have a sip of soda a couple times a year and eat cookies and ice cream more than I should (I’m committing to reducing my sugar intake in the new year).
I don’t love to cook, which is kind of a bummer, but I try to cook extra when I do so it’s less work overall (there’s another resolution—stock the freezer with extra meals).  Here’s a lentil soup recipe that I’ve adapted and can cook up quickly: One bag lentils, rinsed and drained, one can spaghetti sauce, one chopped onion, 4 -5 carrots, peeled and sliced. Add ingredients to pan along with 1-2 cups water and cook till lentils and carrots are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add more water if soup is too thick. Enjoy!

Plastic Bags (and polystyrene) can stuff it, part two

I’ve written about these two topics before but it’s been awhile and it’s worth repeating. And I’m a recycler, including topics.
            Plastic bags and polystyrene, the stuff of plates, fast food cups and packing peanuts, makes me cringe.   
            At a recent dinner, I ranted a little about how much we consume and how I get tired sometimes about stressing over each of my actions. I wonder if it even matters that I spend time and energy putting my words and hopes out here for a healthier, conscious world.
            Someone wisely said, ‘it may not always be easy, but it should be simple.’ We should be proactive about reducing consumption, like those insidious plastic bags at stores that are pushed at every turn. Bring your own bags. Make it a habit. It’s simple.
‘But dangit,’ I said, ‘stores also need to train their employees to use less plastic.’ Last week, in a store that kind of rhymes with ‘Margret’, I saw a cashier place one (foam) carton of eggs in a plastic bag and hand it to the customer ahead of me. Why did those eggs need their own bag?
            In a store that rhymes with ‘plier,’ I was buying two half gallons of ice cream for a birthday last year and I handed the cashier my cloth bag, who then put each carton in its own plastic bag and into my cloth bag before I could speak up. More unnecessary plastic in my hands.
            Last week, not wanting to cook, I ordered takeout for the family from a favorite independent restaurant downtown. The food was phenomenal, but opening up the EIGHT foam containers wasn’t. I felt so guilty.
            My life would be easier if stuff was streamlined and compact, not bundled loosely in bags and foam that are terrible for the earth and that I have to deal with. Because you know that I’m going to store all this…stuff…in my basement and garage until I can take it to the only place in Indy where it will actually be recycled. Most recycling services, including the one servicing Noblesville, can’t take polystyrene.
            Most recently my friend Stacy said I’d be proud of her. Her recycling bin was stuffed and when she peered into her garbage bin and saw it had one small bag of garbage, she thought of me. Aww!
            Recycle on!