Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Cleaning Carnival - Get the Food Additives OUT!

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!


donielle@ Naturally Knocked Up said...

Must. Try. Water. Kefir!!!!

I wish I had some extra grains to send you right now but until it warms up out, they won't grow anymore. Seriously though, it's the easiest thing in the world and I get mine so fizzy I never miss pop. :-) It's awesome! And Healthy!

Healthy pop - there you go.

Tan@tan/green said...

unsweetened tea with juice? Not fizzy...but tasty!

abbie said...

figuring out that I have a serious gluten intolerance, by accident, really put me back in the kitchen. After two babies with medical issues, (not together) I was tired, stressed, and lethargic...I totally didn't want to cook...anything. But realizing that gluten is in so many packaged foods, and eating out usually has enough cross-contamination to give me a tummy-ache, I knew I needed to get back into the kitchen.
I tried the packaged gluten-free stuff, but that upsets my stomach too, so I stick to the less processed stuff now. Meats, veggies, fruits, dairy...the less processed the better...for my tummy, and for me.
I am still trying to gather the support of the family. The kids don't want to change their eating habits, and our relatives near-by have no idea what it means to be GF. I hope that a summer filled with visits to farms, the farmers markets, and afternoon kiddie kitchen cooking dates will help the kiddos understand what it means to explore "real" food. My husband...well, he will need a bit more work I suspect.
For now, I am trying to limit additives by planning ahead and cooking from scratch.
I really like this post and your Carnival post! Thanks so much for all the research and great info!

Mandi @ Life Your Way said...

A woman after my own heart...I love me some bacon too!

Angela said...

This is a great post! It seems like this is something I go in spurts with, I'll be really aware of it for a while, then go back to old habits.

I'm with you on the root beer! I'm not usually much of a pop drinker, but have been addicted to root beer with this pregnancy.

sa4grace said...

Hi! Thanks for your post. I came over from Kitchen Stewardship. I'm just starting my journey and am making "Baby Steps." As I finish something, I'm either not replacing it, or replacing it with something else. If I go slowly, I'll have much more chances of success. Food additives are one thing that is particularly scary because 1)you don't know what they really are 2)they might act like something else once it's heated or processed by your body 3)they might actually turn into something else. I'm really starting to think the way to go is simply making everything from scratch (as much as is actually feasible, that is).

Merry Jo said...

Our family recently started a very strict diet (SCD) because of health problems that my hubby was having. Food additives are one thing we're trying to cut out. It's somewhat easy when all you eat is meat, veggies, and fruit! :) We're moving toward the organic meat camp, but haven't arrived yet. Thanks for your post!

Joanna, Actual Organics said...

I often say that if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it! Simple.

Laura@HeavenlyHomemakers said... did SUCH a good job with all of this information! That was a lot of work, I'll bet! Thanks for taking the time to put it all together!

Mindful Momma said...

Thank you SO much for all of this great information! Whew - you covered a lot of ground indeed! I am a bit believer in all things in moderation too...but the more I know about some of these ingredients, the more I want to avoid them.

Michele @ Frugal Granola said...

I loved reading your post at Kitchen Stewardship! It's so true. We went through that journey of health/discovery a few years ago, and it has been so amazing to actually feel good! :)
Blessings to you,

Sarah @ Mum In Bloom said...

You have a great blog here. You post alot of great ideas and make me think. I've thoroughly enjoyed the Spring Cleaning Carnival and all I've learned. Keep up the good work :)

SwissMaedel said...

Wow! SO glad I found this post. Have been catching up on old blog posts on my reader...finally just now found this. I knew I was subscribed to your blog for a good reason! I have been trying to find some facts about food additives. We've been avoiding hydrogenated things for a while and am now cracking down on high fructose. I'm all about making things from scratch anyways...but my hubby LOVES those trash cereals..w/ al the ??? in it. So anyways, I'm going to have to come back here daily to learn a bit more. Thanks.