Now What Do I Do?
Head over to Kitchen Stewardship to read My Story: How I Became Concerned With What We Ate, and What's the Big Deal regarding food additives. Your head may be reeling like mine with all this information, and you may be left thinking "so what DO I eat?"
Katie said it best when she said "There’s a lot of controversy out there about what is healthy and what is not." She further tells us to "Do your best. Pray that God takes your best effort and makes it whole, that He provides good health for your family both because of AND in spite of what you may end up doing in the kitchen."
Every person is different. Every family is different. Every situation is different. Although she was referring to parenting, mother of eight Danielle Bean has said simply "do what works best for your family." YOU know your family best. Further, in the case of food additives, similar to sugar and gluten and many other things, there are many different levels of sensitivities. What may make one person violently ill may have no effect at all on another.
Finally, I'm a big proponent of Everything In Moderation. This, friends, is why you'll pry bacon out of my cold, dead hands! Lack of availability in my rural location coupled with high prices in general mean that nitrate-free bacon is out of my budget. I eat regular bacon occasionally and in small amounts, and I enjoy it very much.
These posts on MSG have some steps that are can be applied to avoiding all these additives, and you can prioritize your homemade foods using this basic changes post.
Possible baby steps are:
* check labels - just become more aware.
* replace one food item each week with an additive-free item.
* replace processed snack foods with whole foods (like a piece of fruit or some vegetables, etc.), or check out Katie's new eBook Healthy Snacks to Go. (I can assure you that the larabar knockoffs are DELICIOUS. Our first batch lasted only a couple of hours, so the next one we try will be a double batch right out of the gate!)
* eat out less.
* Katie recommends if we choose one thing, that we work on our omega 3 vs. 6 balance.
To Make Strides, try:
* make more of your food from scratch, and make homemade when it counts by prioritizing your "from scratch" items based on what your family eats the most of so your hard work makes the most impact. Ratchet up the flavor of your homemade items with herbs, lemon or lime juice, and other healthy choices.
* plan ahead: meal planning is a must!
* you've heard about "shopping the perimeter" of your grocery store - stick to meats, produce (fresh or frozen), dairy, etc. that is typically found around the edges of most grocery stores. An exception to this would be the baking aisle, I suppose, and your store might be like my sister-in-law's where the frozen foods are in the middle. :>)
Ready for a Leap of Faith?
Really, it's up to you as to how much or little you do. You can try to avoid all food additives if you're willing to invest the time and money to make things from scratch, not to mention the careful shopping for ingredients. If you or a member of your family might be sensitive to additives, it may very well be worth it to try.
Also, now that you're armed with this abundance of information, try just observing what effects you experience after eating certain foods. Perhaps you notice that even though caffeine withdrawal gives you a headache, you still get a headache after drinking a soda pop with high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors. Maybe your little one is more prone to meltdowns a couple of hours after eating rainbow colored fish crackers. If you're absent-minded like me, try to take a few minutes at the end of the day to jot down any additive-laden foods that were consumed and any ill-effects you may have observed. You might be surprised!
In closing, these are important additives to avoid, but really any weird ingredient that you can't pronounce makes a "food" into a "product". Best practice is to make everything from scratch, but for normal, realistic people that just can't happen. The baby steps and making strides are ways to (a) choose the safer processed foods when you just need something fast and (b) prioritize your homemade items in general.
But Wait! There's More!
EDIT - Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Emily and Joanna!
We are also having a giveaway in conjunction with getting the food additives out! The Feingold Association of the US has generously donated their CD What are all those funny things in food...and should I eat them?" by Jane Hersey. They generously sent an extra copy for my research regarding this topic, and I'm going to give that one away, too! Furthermore, I'm going to share the additional information that FAUS sent, including back issues of their newsletter Pure Facts. Lots of great info if you're just getting started on this journey! You can enter the giveaway by:
* linking up your post here (see below),
* commenting here on your experience with food additives,
* subscribe to my blog via following, a reader, or use the box at the top left to get posts via e-mail, leave another comment to let me know,
* share this post via social media (twitter, facebook, blog, etc.) and leave another comment to let me know.
That's up to four entries! Make sure I have a way to contact you if you win, either via your blogger profile, your blog, an e-mail address (you can leave it in the cryptic form youremail at domain dot com if you prefer). The giveaway will end Tuesday, May 3 at 10PM central time. Please have a US or Canadian mailing address.
Next week's hostess is Kelly the Kitchen Kop who will be covering CAFOs, which are "concentrated animal feeding operations" or "confined animal feeding operations". I'm actually hoping to have my Hubs weigh in on this topic, as a big part of our farming operation is our cattle feedlots. You can see all the carnival topics past and present here.
Share Your Wealth of Knowledge
Now it's your turn. I have covered a TON of ground here, and there is lots more left plus, as I said, each of these topics could turn into a post on their own. So, what do you have to say about food additives? You can link up research or information on any food additive, personal story of avoidance, ramblings about processed food. ANY RECIPE that helps you avoid packaged food with additives by making your own. Please link up your posts below. Thanks for joining us! (If you subscribe in a reader or via e-mail, click through to enter posts in the linky and/or leave a comment.)
PS - I have managed to mostly give up my one-root-beer-a-day habit with a baby step switch to ginger ale. Anybody have any good suggestions for a soda pop substitute? We're experimenting with a can of juice concentrate plus a liter of club soda with some good results, but this is not exactly frugal and pretty high in sugar. I'd love some suggestions! [and I'll freely admit that water kefir is probably a bit over my head for now...] Thanks!