Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Natural Foods

For a while now, we have been conscious of the foods we buy and the foods we use for cooking. I like to limit the amount of processes or prepackaged foods in our home as much as possible. Of course, there are exceptions and, for me, it is about being reasonable, checking out every food whether or not it is prepackaged or processed, and everything in moderation.

For example, we have a delicious Thai peanut sauce pasta recipe that uses all kinds of healthy foods, but it also uses peanut butter, soy sauce, etc. It's not that I don't want to eat those foods, it is just that I didn't make them, and I have to decide where to draw the line with foods that I am okay with eating regularly and foods that I label as not so healthy. I know that with foods such as peanut butter, I can make healthier choices by choosing organic.

So foods that we use and eat regularly that I am okay with include canned tomatoes, peanut butter, and sauces, oils, and vinegars. I try to buy all natural. For example, if I am not going to make a salad dressing, I prefer to use one that is not fat free (the list of ingredients is way too long with those) and that is all natural. I want to know exactly what I am eating. We don't buy frozen meals (with a few exceptions) and I don't like foods that cook in their packages. More on all of that in another post I am sure.

Some exceptions/treats include some meals that we eat maybe once a month. Tacos ( msg and other unidentifiable stuff in those... but so yummy!), chicken strips and french fries, and maybe some others I can't recall.

So considering all of this, I have recently become more interested in paying attention to meat. I first noticed at our mainstream grocery stores that Laura's Lean Beef is available, which advertises that the cows are not given antibiotics or added growth hormones. Then I was on Metro recently and noticed a message on a poster about meat animals and antibiotics -the poster was developed by the PEW Charitable Trust. I always hear of that organization on NPR. Anyway, antibiotics given to livestock, not for treatment of sickness, but to promote growth and prevent illness due to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, is quite a controversial issue. It has not been proven, but many scientists believe that it results in drug-resistant bacteria (including those that we are always trying to avoid, such as salmonella) and that this can be transmitted through our handling of contaminated raw or undercooked food and through manure or fertilizer that may come in contact with other produce.

Interestingly, the use of antibiotics for reasons other than treating illness in animals has been banned by Canada and most countries in the European Union, according to the articles I found.

It seems like it is a good idea to be more aware of meat choices, if not to encourage better conditions for livestock, but for our health.

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