Watching Where My Food Comes From

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the quality of food that I put into my body, not just the fat and carbs and calories, but the actual quality, where it came from , how it was grown, how it got to my dinner plate.

A few months ago my allergist had me cut out any foods with salicylic acids (or aspirin), artificial colors and flavors, preservatives like sodium benzoate and some other foods in order to figure out what was causing some skin rashes and what he called “reactive airway syndrome.”

I was astonished to see how much food I eat contains artificial colors and flavors. Chocolate, sodas, salad dressings, and most prepackaged foods, just to start with . I went to put relish on my burger yesterday – Yellow #5 and Blue #1. In pickles? When I was growing up my grandmother used to make bread and butter pickles and I’m pretty sure she didn’t have a stash of artificial dye in her spice rack. And her pickles were always green.

I’ve become even more conscious of my food after the recent recalls, from the Peter Pan salmonella scare (we had 3 jars of the recalled spread in our cupboard and two empty jars in the recycle bin) to the spinach e coli contamination to the current beef contamination. It’s been know for a while that there may be a link between sodium benzoate and cancer, because when sodium benzoate mixes with absorbic acid (vitamin C) it creates the carcinogen benzene. Where can you find sodium benzoate? Well, for starters, in your soda.

And let’s not forget the wheat gluten fiasco. I was a wreck for weeks watching my cat and dog. While the dog and cat food were gluten free, the dog treats weren’t, and even though they weren’t part of the recall I tossed them anyway. What astounded me was the revelation that wheat gluten is used in oodles of human food, and the vast majority of that gluten is imported from China.

We live in America, for goodness’ sake. Farmers are being driven out of business and we’re importing wheat from China? I heard a radio announcer explain that we don’t have the technology in America to economically process the wheat into gluten, so we send it to China where they process it and send it back.

Let me just go on record as saying that I’d rather pay $1 more for something and know it came from Iowa than save a buck and be eating food that’s traveled around the world and back. My dinner travels farther than I do.

But back to my main point. I challenge you to read the labels on your food and try to go for 24 hours without ingesting artificial colors or flavors. I encourage you to think about where the food came from that you’re spooning into your mouth. Are the tomatoes you’re slicing for your sandwich grown in the next town by local growers, or imported from Chile? How many people and processers handled that beef you’ve grilled for a burger?

And more importantly, does it matter?

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2 responses to “Watching Where My Food Comes From

  1. I would HIGHLY recommend watching the documentary Food Inc if you haven’t already seen it: http://www.foodincmovie.com/

    Very eye opening. Some of it is sickening, shocking, saddening… all of it is an important reminder that we need to EDUCATE ourselves when it comes to what we consume & therefore support with our hard earned dollars.

    • Oh, I have def seen it. I’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which really was great, along with In Defense of Food. I’m waiting for some extra $ to get Fast Food Nation, LOL. Plus I saw a great documentary on PBS about how everything we eat and use is pretty much corn.

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