Feel good food

by kaceemaree

Last summer, a friend of mine asked if I knew where my favorite restaurant sourced their chicken. When I told him I had no idea, he firmly replied, “Well, you should,” with a look that made me feel guilty about my ignorance.

I didn’t think much about where my food came from at that time. I didn’t think much about how important nutrition was until my dad was undergoing cancer treatment and I started researching and reading about how vital nutrition is to preventing and treating cancer and other illnesses. My dad was a fantastic cook and always maintained a healthy diet by common standards, making sure that my brother and I knew how we should eat and how we should try not to.

The reality is, even the things we think are healthy might be doing us more harm than good. Take potatoes, for instance. I love potatoes – in every way that you could prepare them. But eating nonorganic root vegetables means eating the herbicides, pesticides and fungicides they’ve absorbed. I had to stop eating Rice Krispies, a favorite cereal I thought was healthy, because high fructose corn syrup is one of the main ingredients. {Luckily, I found that Trader Joe’s has their own version of this delicious rice cereal that doesn’t have artificial ingredients.} These products are not real food. And most people have no idea. I sure didn’t until I took time to learn.

Now I take pride in reading ingredient lists, looking for that USDA organic label, buying milk from cows that aren’t given any treatments they shouldn’t be, choosing grass-fed beef, and knowing how chickens are raised before buying any.

Walking into Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s is like being part of a sub-society more people would belong to if they knew what was good for them. A mere 4 percent of all food sold in the U.S. is organic, which seems shockingly low. Then again, not every product at these supermarkets is organic. They simply sell food that’s held to higher standards of quality with wellness in mind.

How can this industry garner the following it deserves? This is a question Alex Bogusky recently tried to answer. His answer was to put tons of funding behind the organic industry. Well, money can fix a lot of things. But it’s what is done with money that can make real differences.

Since changing my eating habits, I’ve been the target of ridicule from friends who simply don’t understand what they don’t know about. It’s not until I give them an example of, say, what’s in a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget or the dangers and prevalence of high fructose corn syrup that they pay some mind to something that’s become increasingly important to me.

I say we take the concept behind UK food labels a step further and call out how unnatural so much of the food our society consumes is. In fact, we should also spell out that natural is not the same as organic. Natural is not a legally standardized term and labeling something as such is largely left up to the company producing it. Don’t be fooled.

Feeling good about your food is well worth the price you pay at the store and much lower than the price you could pay down the road if you don’t start caring now.

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