But then we need to know how to protect ourselves.
Thanks to those groups who are working tirelessly to making our food safe from a GMO health time-bomb.
If you tend to be larger than you’re supposed to be, finding foods that satisfy you and keep you on the right side of the scales is a challenge. You could go for all the sugar-free (chemical laden) foods that line the supermarket shelves or simply eat raw (as I tried for a month – it certainly worked for a while).
No matter what ‘diet’ or eating regime you follow, you are likely to feel hungry, because we ‘fatties’ are used to eating more than is necessary. I’ve got to the point, though, of deciding hungry is not a nice state to be in. Therefore I have to find foods that nourish and satisfy my taste buds at the same time. For instance, those rice ‘biscuits’ that look like bits of polystyrene stuck together just do not do it for me.
I am also trying to avoid foods with large numbers of chemicals disguised as harmless numbers – which accounts for about 99% of products on supermarket shelves. I mean you have to understand that some of those innocuous numbers are there for a good reason. We don’t want to be eating stale-tasting food, or food that has gone ‘off’, so a little preservative is good for us if we shop in a supermarket. If we browse in our garden we can be sure (as long as we wash the produce before we eat it) by and large we’re not going to get sick eating fresh and we’re not going to be swallow a bunch of numbers. However, for most people that is not possible, or possible only during the growing season. Supermarket food is our only alternative.
I’ve also worked out that wheat products (basically bread) play havoc with my digestion so I am avoiding gluten. The path I’ve chosen is expensive! So what are my choices? Grow my own and eat copious salads, or educate myself into reading labels and uncovering some gems.
That’s what I did this afternoon. I ate some Gluten-free Corn Chips made by a NZ company called GoNutz. This company packages nuts and snack foods for retail outlets, and while I’m well aware how snack foods are adding to our waist-lines, I was at first pleasantly surprised when I read the list of ingredients in these Wholegrain Corn Chips. Reduced fat and Low G.I. (better for diabetics), and there were only three sets of numbers!
Calcium 529 = Prepared from chalk as an acidity regulator. I’m fine with that.
Stabiliser 464 = Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose goes by the number 464 or E464. It is a commercially prepared, chemically modified wood cellulose product. It is reputed to contain small amounts of heavy metals including:
Oh dear. We have all heard how accumulation of heavy metals in the body can have life-threatening effects. It’s not as if there aren’t alternatives.
Research into safe stabilisers
A safer alternative cold be Furcellaria 408, A natural polysaccharide, produced from seaweed in Denmark. It is used as a thickening agent, stabiliser and emulsifier especially in products for diabetics. Acceptable daily Intake: Up to 75 mg/kg body weight so you could eat a lot and still not have any poor effects.
Canola Oil (which contained an antioxidant 319 = Tertiary-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). So I looked that up and found out that TBHQ is used in many foods, ranging from crackers to crisps to fast foods. TBHQ is in fact a chemical preservative which is a form of butane. It is used in foodstuffs to delay them going rancid and greatly extends their storage life on supermarket shelves. Oh dear. Oh dear.
Canola Oil Research
I did some more research and found out that Olive oil is a better healthy choice than Canola Oil, though more expensive. It is claimed that Olive oil can even help prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes, since it helps your body produce adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. As Go Nutz corn chips claim to be Low G.I. the implication is that the food is better for diabetics. The product is already a higher priced option, and if like me you’re looking for safe, tasty fill-me-up foods, you are prepared for that extra cost.
I guess I will have to leave my corn munchies to corn on the cob out of my own garden. For now at least – unless Go Nutz go Olive oil and seaweed and make a great product even greater.
If you or others in your family have a food intolerance and you’re expecting a new family member, NOW is the time to act. Whether you’ve discovered your current baby or child has a dairy intolerance or milk allergy, is gluten-intolerant, or reacts to soy, nuts or other foods, you will be making major changes to your diet. Your weekly grocery shop will never be the same! You will become intimately acquainted with food labels and the ‘numbers’ that food manufacturers hide behind when adding the nasties to basic foods.
You will also be amazed how many foods contain a milk or wheat product to give it more substance or enhance the taste! A few shockers included crisps, gravy, stock cubes, bread crumbed food, cereals, sweets and processed meats. Then when you take a look at the products that are manufactured on ‘production lines also manufacturing soy, milk, wheat, nut products’ you’ll start to wonder what you’ll ever be able to feed your family again.
Be prepared for any new addition to have some intolerance as well. That’s where NOW is a very good time to start changes in your own diet. What you eat feeds your fetus for nine months and if your unborn child has a tendency toward an intolerance the food you eat will lessen or increase that intolerance. Play safe.
When faced with the dilemma of a child with allergies, it is far easier to start from scratch – slow cook from raw verifiable foods or feed raw finger foods. Shop for meats in a butcher who prepares the cuts for you that day. Ask whether they use preservatives in their mince or sausage products. If you shop for meat in a Supermarket you can expect that some preservatives are added to prolong the shelf-life, and shop assistants won’t have a clue.
Even supposedly non-gluten food like rolled oats may in fact contain gluten through cross-contamination from wheat in the location. Cereals are commercially grown in a rotation of crops where wheat is one crop. Wheat seed dropped during harvest may grown among rye or oats in a following harvest. Mechanical harvesters don’t discriminate when they harvest the next crop – they just gather the seed whatever the plant. Only grains that are grown exclusively on cropping land and tested for the presence of gluten can be relied on to be gluten-free.
Cook your baby foods from raw, adding little or no salt. Babies (and you) don’t really need it as a taste enhancer – we’ve just become so used to over-salted foods like crisps and crackers that our adult palates expect the extra taste boost.
Often the change in diet will improve the health of the whole family. Except from causes like celiacs disease, when gluten is an absolute ‘No-No’, an extreme reaction in one child will indicate that there is the likelihood of a level of intolerance in others. Afterall, all your children will have come from the same gene-pool and each parent has provided half that gene-pool. The chances of most of you having some intolerance to the offending food is high.
The diet change is likely to lead you too review other products you use around your children. What is in the creams and lotions you massage into their skins? What is in the fabrics you place against their skin?
Be aware that not everyone will understand the changes you’re putting into place. If you’re welcoming a new addition or holding a birthday party, be up front about your preferences.
Your friends should know that you want a green baby shower or birthday party, so include eco-friendly baby websites, stores, gift ideas, and wrapping suggestions on the invitations. Ask your guests to wrap the gifts in recycled or reusable materials, like a baby blanket or in a box that can later be used as storage. And if they are bringing food to share, ask them to restrict it to fresh fruit and raw vegetable nibbles.
You can also serve the food with regular dishes rather than disposable ones. Load up the dishwasher (not your rubbish bin) and celebrate with a clean conscience.
We have a food scraps container – so do most people. So how ‘eco’ is that? Our food scraps go into our compost bin where the local mice party and compete with the worms. However, our cat enjoys the hunting and quite often brings in his trophies very much alive. In effect he is recycling our scraps – peelings – mice – cat food! In less rural localities compost bins are not possible.
Some town or city centres have bins where food scraps can go and they’re turned into compost at efficient composting plants where no intelligent mouse would risk her/his life (and which, I assume, are free of cats). Applying compost to the garden from such a centre is much more wholesome. It all comes in plastic bags … oops … what do you do with plastic bags?
Now I know that a good eco-warrior would buy everything in re-useable or compostable containers, and we did start buying those woven bags put out by supermarkets in NZ. They’re supposed to cut down the number of plastic bags sent to the rubbish tip each year. I was all for that until I looked at the Made in China label. Hmmm a lot of fuel was used transporting them down-under. Instead we resolved to re-use plastic bags as many times as possible before disposing of them. Our dog helps out in that regard – we still send the bags to the refuse disposal system but it does contain some compostable material.
I’ve decided, it’s all about getting the balance right for the locality you live in and the options it offers. We will still compost and apply it to our garden in a bid to be as eco as possible. We will still use plastic but re-use the bags as many times as possible before binning them. And, where there is opportunity to use recyclable containers, we will.
I am writing this blog to record the process of turning our suburban section (690 square metres) and house into an eco-friendly place, where we equalise what we take with what we give back.
Our plan is to evaluate and adapt our:
Each week, or more often, I will share with you our progress towards a more sustainable lifestyle. This will cover my research and our practical actions. Look out for photos and video!
Join me in my journey …