This kind of goes back to day #4 of this series (post here) where I mentioned the importance of educating ourselves on what we are putting in our bodies. When all else fails a rule of thumb is if you don't know what an ingredient is...maybe you shouldn't eat it. But, if it were only that simple...what about the label "natural flavor" what exactly does that mean? There is an interesting article here where we learn that MSG (you know the stuff we are supposed to avoid because it has been known to trigger migraines and a host of other issues) has more than 25 names it can go by and it is also considered a "natural flavor" as well as many other substances that are only considered "natural" in the loosest sense of the word. Oh and interestingly enough the word "Natural" means nothing when put anywhere else besides the ingredients list, and even then the true "natural-ness" is very debatable.
Then there is the whole GMO issue. Did you know this:
Currently, up to 92% of U.S. corn is genetically engineered (GE), as are 94% of soybeans and 94% of cotton  (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). It has been estimated that upwards of 75% of processed foods on supermarket shelves – from soda to soup, crackers to condiments – contain genetically engineered ingredients. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx
That means that when your convenience food says "corn syrup, cornmeal, corn sugar...etc" you are likely eating GMO food unless your processed food box says "Organic" on it. Well then, what does Organic really mean? The short and sweet of it is this...
Organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. http://www.organic.org/home/faq
Is your head swimming yet? Yep, mine was too. I did quite a bit of research and what I found was that many of the diseases and ailments we are dealing with today are very likely linked to what we are eating and the chemicals we are ingesting into our bodies. We weren't meant to eat like we do. Lets not even mention obesity, diabetes, autoimmune issues, inflammation, gut and bowel issues, etc.
This is where I found that it was the hardest to begin the change. The whole reason I was feeding my family "convenience" foods (foods from a box) was because it was convenient. So how was I going to help our family snack in a healthier manner? For me it began by thinking back to what foods our great grandparents ate. Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, are you following me. If you picked up some of these types of food at the market it would likely have 1-2 ingredients. Peanuts for example, they have peanuts, salt and sometimes peanut oil. But I have also looked at labels and seen where peanuts have 5-7 ingredients in them, really? I mean for goodness sake, they are peanuts!
So, my challenge to you on this natural journey is in the area of your snack foods. Try some of these on your family to see if you can make a switch.
dried or dehydrated foods (though watch out for sulfates as a preservative)
freeze dried fruits and vegetables (available online and make great baby finger foods)
If you are feeling creative, how about making some snack foods. Here are a few of our favorite recipes.
Popcorn (made with an old school kettle)
Energy Bites (recipe here)
Paleo Crack (recipe here)
Homemade brownies (recipe here)
Pumpkin muffins (recipe here)
Banana muffins (recipe here)
Homemade cocoa (recipe here)
Apple Chips (recipe here)
Just think about it... here is a typical label for one of the all American snackfoods that there are often coupons and great sales for. I know I was guilty of not putting much thought it to snack foods for quite some time, ignorance was bliss for a time.
So the next time you are shopping at the grocery, take a closer look at the labels of what you are adding to the cart, you may have to rethink some of those purchases.
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