Does Organic Food Taste Better?

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?

big mac.jpgFirst, 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?

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Is Organic Food Healthier?

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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).

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Pesticide-free Food? Forget It!

059 fruit @PikeMarSea LAH

(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.

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Fear of Food

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)
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The Morning After: Eating Healthy

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.)

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It’s Still Junk Food

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:

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Dialog? or Diatribe?

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!

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