Eating green is the heart and soul of this blog. Instead of focusing so much on the Clean Plate Rule, as so many of us knew growing up, I believe we need to focus on the Green Plate Rule – making healthy food choices that are beneficial for our bodies and the environment. I do my best to point out the best manufacturers and the cleanest products, not just bash the bad, and help you understand what to look out for when you are shopping. After all, the healthy, simple recipes I share are only as good as the ingredients you use to make them. I spend the time doing research because I love it, and I want the information out there. It was hard for me to make the switch from boxed products, frozen meals, and drive-thru’s, because there was not a ton of information out there, and what I did find was so overwhelming I didn’t know what to do with it. My goal is to make eating healthy and green, a little easier for all of you. These five tips will help you make sure the recipes you make are made as green as possible.
5 ways to Eat Green – for your health and the environment.
Buy Local and try growing your own. Buying local is the best way to support your community, and get to know the growers. I love going to a farmers market and talking to the farmers themselves. I can ask all the harsh questions and get direction answers from the source — do you use pesticides, any GMO’s, do you allow visits / tours of the farm, any organic certifications? You will be able to tell right away who is taking all the steps to make sure you are receiving the highest quality products. You can also ask how fresh products are, the best way to store them, recipe ideas, etc. I would urge everyone to look up a farmers market, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), or pick your own farm close to you and check it out.
Starting a garden seemed impossible until this year. I started taking small steps by planting herbs in containers on our patio, and now I can hardly keep up with them! My basil and mint are always overgrown, and providing enough for pesto, sauces, smoothies and juices. Next I’ll add kale, peppers, and tomatoes to my garden! Try starting small, and adding to your garden every year.
Beware of GMO’s. Little research is available on GMO’s (genetically modifies organisms) since they were just introduced in the mid-90’s. Most countries do not allow them in their food system, for lack of research, but we happily modify just about anything here. Up to 95% of all soy is genetically modified, and 90% of corn and canola. Now, go look at any packaged product you buy from the store and you will likely see some form of soy, corn or canola. Currently, the only way to know if something does not have GMO’s is to look for the NON-GMO certified seal, and / or a 100% certified organic seal. If it is only labeled as organic, it only has to contain 95% organic ingredients, so it could contain GMO’s.
What we know about GMO’s:
- The percentage of Americans with two to three chronic illness has doubled over the last nine years, food allergies are more prevalent, and other developmental and reproductive disorders are also on the rise.
- The effects of GM foods on animals have shown damage to liver and kidney functions.
- Over half the GM crops produced are altered to withstand Roundup, known as Roundup Ready crops. This has caused an increase use of Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, which has been linked to birth defects, hormone disruptions, cancer, and many other illnesses.
- GM crops have not shown an increase in production or nutritional value, as they were created to do
- TOP GM FOODS – soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, Hawaiian papaya, crookneck squash, zucchini, and sugar beets.
Organic and Grass-fed. It all starts with the organic farmers, who are not using harmful pesticides on their gardens. Therefore, less fossil fuels are being used to produce pesticides, so no harmful pesticides are being passed on to nature in any way, and you are not digesting any of those toxic chemicals. We all win! Organics are more expensive, and not always available, but you can reduce your intake of pesticides by avoiding the dirty dozen! If you do buy anything listed on the dirty dozen please be sure to buy organic. Here is a graphic:
I also believe it is important to buy dairy and meat organic, and one step further is looking for pastured or grass-fed labels. Those products come from animals who live on farms were they roam and eat what they are intended to eat — grass. Most livestock is on a diet of grains because it’s inexpensive, and it’ll fatten up the livestock faster. The grains includes corn, soy, both are most likely genetically modified, and most of the time hormones are also included. Grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed, contains more omega-3′s, and more vitamins and minerals. Same is true for eggs coming from grass-fed hens. Their eggs contain more omega-3′s and vitamins. I saw organic pastured eggs in my Whole Foods for the first time last week, and after doing an online search I found a couple pastured egg farms close to my home. Maybe one day I’ll get out there and share the visit on the blog.
Read labels to avoid harmful additives. I mention this in almost every post on this site. Please lookout for harmful additives in food. Some things to look out for when you’re shopping:
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Artificial flavors and colors — particularly Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, the three most common, and are also all carcinogens. Carcinogens are cancer causing substances….yep, and they are STILL allowed in foods…don’t get me started.
- Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose
- Sodium Propionate
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Sugar listed in the first three ingredients
- Ditch anything with the word “diet”, soda and other sugary drinks.
- Anything that doesn’t sound like a real ingredients or you can’t pronounce
- Do not fall for the marketing tricks — read the ingredients not the bold words on the front of the box
Use safe, toxic-free cookware and bakeware. This is the place I need the most work! I’m constantly reading and searching about food and additives, but I take very little time to concentrate on toxins in food storage and cookware. I’m learning a lot this week! Your cookware should not contain PFC’s — commonly found in non-stick, teflon, pots and pans. PFC’s are linked to low birth weight, liver and kidney damage, and reproductive problems. You can replace the non-stick cookware with stainless steel, glass, and cast iron. Safemama has a list of safe cookware, and ESP has some great options on their website. Remember, code “GREEN1″ will save you 10% until the end of the month!
Where else can you find PFC’s? The packaging of greasy foods, and in microwave popcorn bags. Don’t worry, I have an air-popped popcorn recipe for you tomorrow. :)