Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Argument For Food

I've written here before about the declining to almost non-existent nutritional value of our food.  I've gone on at great length about the declining taste in our food, and my theory that this declining taste is the reason so many use so much salt. (Even if you cut back on the salt at home, have you read the sodium levels of "convenience food"? It's enough to make me stop eating at work!!) Yesterday I wrote about the need to go back to growing our own food. Not just for control over our own food, but also to control what we put into our bodies. Sodium is only a part of that. All this really started for me when a co-worker became pregnant and had to start watching how much sodium, caffeine and sugar she ingested. She was near-rabid about it, and the topic of nutrients came up repeatedly at work. Before long, we were all looking at those nutrient labels, and we were all appalled. In one submarine sandwich, there was 115% of the daily recommended allowance of sodium! In one sandwich! In a frozen, throw-it-in-the-microwave-and-zap-it meal there sodium levels ranged anywhere from 25% to 80%, depending on the producer. The conversations turned then to what we can do about this.

I've always said we need to express our wishes with our money, and this is no exception. Don't buy the frozen, high fat, high sodium meals. Bring your own lunch from home. Include in that lunch more fruit, more vegetables, more water, more juice. Last night's leftovers, maybe you made apple muffins or cookies, or your soup you made from scratch. Make your own submarine sandwiches, wraps are so versatile it's hard to get bored, roasted vegetables are always a treat. I know one industrious soul who makes her own bread bowls and somehow manages to fill them with stew and take them to work without making a mess. I'm not that talented, but I eat from home as best I can. Meatloaf, barbeque chicken, homemade biscuits and gravy, soups, stew, wraps, cookies...whatever we have available. Even homemade mac & cheese. Ever look at the nutrition label on a box of KD? I love cheese, even though I shouldn't have much of it. When I get the yearning for smooth, melty macaroni and cheese, 90% of the time, we make it at home. Very little, if none, sodium. There's no mysterious powder to wonder about, and I'm the envy of my co-workers. Even an ordinary sandwich can be livened up with a handful of clover sprouts that you grew. Full of vitamins, minerals and sunshine, those sprouts can take a sandwich from boring to cool in only a few days. The best part is that you don't need a southern exposure to grow them, either.

No matter how we grow our own food, controlling what we put into our bodies will have profound effects. More nutritious food, allowed to ripen in the sun if possible and not picked green, builds better bodies. When we started down this footpath of better health, I didn't notice anything at first. I didn't notice more energy or better skin or anything of that sort. But let me go on record right now as saying we're not perfect. We slipped a few times. It's cheaper to buy crap-food, I'll admit, and we've all done it. After a little while of nipping out for lunch, a few days of not having herbal tea but Coke and Pepsi instead and not paying attention to what I was putting in my body, I was draggin' ass. I was tired all the time, I had no get up and go, no zip, no pep. I wasn't interested in anything, couldn't concentrate... you get the idea. I suspected there might be a link. (Feel free to roll your eyes here) So I went back to drinking more herbal tea, more water and eating fruit and yogurt more often. I found I needed to nap less (I work late into the night, so my sleep schedule is already compromised), it was a little easier to concentrate at work and I wanted to walk more. As a side benefit, I was having fewer asthma attacks. Coincidence? I think not.

So, in conclusion, taking back control of our food, how it's grown and processed and how we eat it is all within our best interests. Better health is something we're all entitled to, no matter what country we live in, our economic situation, or our family dynamic. I firmly believe that decades of nutrient deficient food has made us sicker, weaker and less vital. We can start reclaiming our health one meal at a time, one ingredient at a time, one person at a time. If you can't grow your own tomatoes because you face north and get no sun, like me, look into sprouts. They're the easiest green to grow ever. If you are able, start buying at Farmer's markets. Not only can you actually speak to the person who grows your food, but you'll be supporting local growers and producers. If you want a local food system, help create one. We need to take back control over our food, take back control over our health and in such uncertain times, every little bit of reclaimed control makes us stronger.

Tomorrow, a look at using food stamps in the U.S for seeds and food producing plants! (Thanks to Jacqueline for the heads up!)

4 comments:

LindaM said...

I am loving your latest series on food....
You know what I am going through right now. One thing about me is my focus has always been on top quality nutrition....even as a teenager. I felt disapointed with my choices as result of my illness until surgery showed how hard and cleverly my body fought to save my life...I credit my food choices ......

Carolyn said...

Indeed, Linda. It's to YOUR credit that you made the right food choices. I'm very sure that those choices have allowed you to recover.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Can't wait for your next blog, this one was great!

If you check out Mother Earth News, they've done some studies on the quality of nutrition from homegrown vegetables and eggs versus 'factory' grown foods. It's an eye opener!

I've long suspected a link between obesity and the ever-falling nutritive value of vegetables and fruits...we're starving while swimming in fat!

Carolyn said...

Thanks for the tip, J. Great minds must think alike. I was going to discuss that very thing today! lol