A Former Foodie and the Dilemma of Safe Foods

Yesterday my husband and I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up a couple of groceries on our way home from breakfast. Since I generally do most of the grocery shopping on my own, he most definitely had a few things on his list that he wanted.

“Let’s do a roast chicken for dinner tonight,” he said.

“How about salmon tonight? I have a taste for it and we have some at home already,” I remarked.

“We haven’t had chicken in a couple of weeks – we have salmon twice a week,” he cajoled. So we picked up an organic chicken for the evening. I wanted to get some bison to substitute for beef in a beef bourgignon I was making for Halloween night. But TJ’s didn’t have any because there’s apparently a bison shortage now in the US. They did have organic, free range, antibiotic free beef though. Success!

After browsing through the variety of vegetables, we decided to use up the many vegetables in our refrigerator that needed attention. We eat a lot of vegetables these days.

“How about some bread – you haven’t had bread in the house for several weeks.”

Ahh – I wondered how long it would be before he mentioned something. I’ve been trying to reduce our gluten consumption and bread was the next offender on my list. While we eat lunch at home often, I generally have soups, salads, and leftovers around, so I haven’t been buying any lunch meat for the household. I got rid of the bread at dinner several years ago except for the occasional naan, so the last vestige was the lunchtime bread. I figured they wouldn’t miss it much – I usually end up throwing out moldy bread anyway, right?

“You know, I’m trying to get us gluten-free as much as possible, hon,” I said. “Why not get some Ezekiel bread if you really want it?”

“Oh, that stuff tastes like twigs. I’m just going to pick up a loaf of whole wheat – that should be healthy, right?”

“No, unfortunately whole wheat is just as big as an offender as white these days. Same thing with oatmeal, you know,” I lectured.

“So what am I supposed to eat for breakfast?” my poor husband moaned.

“Well, I bought you some Greek yogurt and strawberries for a parfait.”

“You know I can’t stomach yogurt – I’m so lactose intolerant my stomach will be rumbling for days,” he complained.

“Yeah, well, I’m doing this intermittent fasting thing, where you don’t eat for 16 hours after your last meal each night. I basically skip breakfast, workout early in the afternoon, and then eat my meals and snacks. It’s supposed to be the new trend in calorie restriction and health, so I thought I would try it out for a while,” I said, as my husband looked at me like I was cra-zee.

It has become so difficult to shop for food these days, hasn’t it? So much is bad for us – meat, sugar, dairy, flour, potatoes even. Designing meals these days seems to require a Ph.D

Conventionally grown produce is out because there’s too many pesticides. I’ve got to shop at stores that only carry organic or antibiotic, hormone-free meats and chicken. Salmon – no farmed raised for us, only wild. Sometimes I think we should just buy a barrel of sunflower seeds and some broccoli and salad for the rest of our meals.

I receive barrages of emails daily from contacts and various activist groups about our food system. Different movements exist, from the gluten-free, the raw, and the paleo diet; telling me that their way is the best way to optimal health and wellness. I care about these things, so I try to incorporate many of their theories into my meal planning. But some say that if I don’t do it all the way, I’m not reaping the benefits. And some of these theories contradict each other as well.

Complicating things is the fact that I really love to cook – as a young teen, I took on the responsibility of cooking dinner for my family, experimenting with such things as crepes and Coq au vin. I love restaurants and consider myself a foodie.

But how can I be a foodie when there’s so much food I won’t eat anymore?

All I know is my grandparents both lived well into their nineties, healthy as horses, while eating an Italian diet that contained meat, dairy, eggs, cheese, and more. My grandpa, in fact, ate day old crusty Italian bread, olive oil, and provolone every morning at 4am for breakfast before setting out on his active day. He worked in heavy construction till he was 75 until they forced him to retire. He shovelled his own snow, walked daily, and mowed the lawn in his nineties. He never worried about eating gluten-free, that’s for sure. He died at the age 0f 98 from old age.

So what are we doing wrong these days?

I know that I like how I feel when I eliminate certain foods from my diet. From my energy levels to the extra pouchiness around my waist, there are just some foods that don’t sit well in my body.

But I’ve got to admit I sometimes long for the days when I ate what I wanted to and didn’t obsess about it. When I was young and newly living on my own and price was the main consideration, so I shopped at the local Piggly Wiggly. For the days as a child, when our food wasn’t so  . . . poisonous.

Did you know that there are only about twelve companies that control the major food supply in our country? You’ve heard of the top ones, like Monsanto, Cargill, and ADM. You’d be surprised at what companies they own, including organic producers that were once little guys.

That’s why I’m joining up with a new company that will be delivering fresh food from the farm to my table. One where I will know where my food comes from and whose cattle don’t eat GMO grass. I’ll tell you a little bit more about them on Wednesday.

Hopefully, my family will get the chance to enjoy food without the worry.

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