While flavor isn’t directly related to nutrition or environmentally friendly methods of growing, it is important. After all, no matter how healthy the food is, if it tastes bad no one will eat it! So, how does organic food taste? How does it compare to conventionally grown food? Does organic taste better?
First, we should remember that not everyone likes the same thing. McDonald’s manages to sell an incredible number of burgers, and I think they’re awful. I happen to enjoy Brussels sprouts and lima beans, which probably puts me in the minority. Still, most people like chocolate, strawberries, and fried chicken, so there are some flavors we can agree on. The question is, do most people prefer organic food?
What makes food healthy? I’d venture to guess that there are two considerations: what it has in it (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients) and what it doesn’t have in it (harmful bacteria, plus pesticides and other natural and synthetic chemicals that might harm us).
(This first appeared on my other blog, Mountain Plover.)
I was at the market picking out some grapes when a large woman ran up to me and grabbed my arm. “Don’t buy those!” She looked alarmed. “They’re not organic!”
Thankfully, I’m rarely accosted in the produce department , but I frequently hear the same lecture from many of my friends. Don’t take man-made drugs. Don’t use artificial sweeteners. Don’t eat food that isn’t organic. You’re poisoning yourself. Natural is safe. Everything else isn’t.
I should point out that I have no desire to poison myself with dangerous chemicals, but our concern about the difference between “natural” and “manmade” chemicals is irrelevant. Both laboratories and nature produce those that are safe and others that are not-so-safe. Arsenic is natural. Vitamin C can be replicated in a laboratory.
What I learned from the internet in the last week:
- Beans are good for you. (source)
- Beans are bad for you. (source)
- Whole grains are healthy and we should eat more of them. (source)
- Grains are bad for you. Whole grains are worst. (source)
- Saturated fats (lard, etc.) are good for you. (source)
- Saturated fats (lard, etc.) are bad for you. (source)
- A daily handful of nuts will reduce your risk of heart disease. (source)
- Nuts are toxic and eating them causes heart disease. (source)
- Continue reading
Here we are, the day after Thanksgiving. Did you eat too much? Are you still feeling full? I, like many others, often throw out restraint on our national feast day, but the day after is another story. As I munch on leftover stuffing and sweet potatoes, my conscience is beginning to intrude on my carb-induced lethargy. It’s time to climb back onto the healthy food wagon before my cravings take over my life.
At the same time, Pete and I recently restructured our budget. I’m excited that we can finally plan our spending—he hasn’t missed a paycheck for an entire year now! Still, we’re not exactly flush (I’m looking for flexible employment), and our food budget is one area where we can conserve. The average person in the U.S. spends $7 per day on food. That works out to $420 per month to feed two people. We set our budget at only $300. (This is what we already spend, so we know we can do it.)
I was looking through an old cookbook, circa 1955, snickering at all the recipes for Jello “salads” and casseroles laced with cream of mushroom soup (with crushed saltines on top). It was a cuisine based on white bread, white potatoes, and white rice. I grew up on this sort of diet. My mom was the consummate consumer, enthusiastically trying every new mix that Betty Crocker could come up with.
Of course, these days we are much more nutritionally savvy. We eat whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. Our fruits and veggies are organic. We shun junk food. Our consciences are clear. Right? Then explain this:
You think politics and religion get people fired up? I’ve discovered something even more apt to generate extreme views and robust “discussion,” and it has nothing to do with the economy or same-sex marriage. Yup, I’m talking about food.
It seems that everyone has decided they’re an expert. They do or do not eat [fill in soy, bacon, sugar, etc., etc.], and they’re convinced that you should, or should not, eat it as well.
I was chatting with a group of women a few days ago, and someone asked if anyone had a good cold veggie salad recipe. I offered that I make a broccoli salad that is pretty popular at pot-lucks, and started to list off the ingredients. Since we’re all on diets of one form or another, I mentioned that I often substitute turkey bacon for higher-fat “real” bacon—and a lady I did not know, sitting across the table, started screaming at me!
The green, slimy mass lurched at me from the bottom of the crisper drawer. I fended it off with a dish rag while rescuing the still-edible produce piled on top. Rats. Those green beans (or was it the chard?) looked so great when I bought them—I hated for them to go to waste.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes produce seems to spoil right away, while other times it seems to last a few days in the fridge? To some extent, it’s the nature of that particular vegetable. Some kinds just last longer than others. But that’s not the whole story. I find that produce purchased out of season just doesn’t keep as long, probably because it had so far to go to get here in the first place.
I haven’t shared a recipe in quite a while. With the “food season” upon us and the markets full of fall apples, I thought this might be a good time to post my favorite apple cake recipe. It’s very easy to make, especially since you don’t have to peel the apples. Maybe you can make it to show your appreciation to your favorite veteran!
Disclaimer: I happen to be allergic to apples (weird, I know), so I can’t vouch for the flavor, but it sure smells heavenly while it’s in the oven. Plus, my husband and guests assure me that it’s, as my daughter would say, fabulous! Are they telling the truth?
A while back, I posted a couple of blogs about eating responsibly—“What Should We Then Eat?” (Part 1 was about eating to be healthy, and Part 2 was about eating with the environment in mind.) Today, I’d finally like to finish this mini-series with “Part 3: Eating with a Social Conscience.”
Here in the U.S., it’s easy to forget that our food choices have a global impact. A quick trip through the market can remind us. There are bananas from central America, coffee from Kenya, and apples from Australia. Tropical species (such as chocolate) have to be imported. Out of season produce is grown in the southern hemisphere and flown north so we can eat oranges all summer and grapes all winter. All in all, when it comes to food choices, we’re pretty spoiled.