Find Out What You’re Feeding Your Children (and yourself)
Courtesy of Dan Meyers
Since local farms have become a thing of the past, the quality of our food in the US has significantly declined. Many households rely on pre-made or packaged foods to get through the week, as well as fast-food and eating out. And how can you blame them?! Cooking is hard, especially if you were never taught how, and a single meal can take hours to make. Parents who work and children with school and extracurriculars barely have time to breathe, let alone be focused on three meals a day. But food is our energy source, and it's our job to ensure that we have a solid supply of energy and that our children are given a sufficient energy source as well. So here are a few tips and grains of knowledge about the US Food Industry to help you get familiar with what exactly you are fueling you and your kiddos bodies with.
The FDA (federal food and drug administration) was created in 1906, largely in response to Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, and is in place to ensure safe food and drugs in the US. BUT, in reality, the FDA doesn’t have control over much at all.
The FDA has a laundry list of chemicals that are labeled as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) so companies are allowed to use them in products without getting the actual product approved by the FDA. HOWEVER once a chemical is approved the FDA will not retest it, so there are chemicals on the market that have since been proved to be harmful to humans, but they are still labeled as a GRAS.
the FDA does have regulations on what companies are allowed to say about their product and market it. BUT the terms that are regulated are so specific companies found loopholes to words to make their product seem healthier than it is. For example, there is no threshold for what “low” means, so a company can say their product is “low” sugar because they have personally decided that this product is low sugar. So be careful with food labels.
Most of the time, the word organic doesn’t really mean anything. Big Food companies find loopholes in food production so that they can produce the most food in the shortest amount of time. The word organic has become more of a marketing scheme than anything.
You’re going to want to try to stay as far away as possible from ingredients that you cannot pronounce. The best foods are the ones whose ingredients you can easily and readily list off. Unfortunately, Little Bites and Z Bars do not make the cut. But everything in moderation is key!
Restaurant portions are crazy. One entrée could easily feed two people, and most of the time the amount of salt, sodium, and sugar in each dish is almost equal to the suggested daily intake. I love going out to dinner as much as the next person, it’s fun! But don’t make a habit of it.
We all know that soda is not good for you. But we need to look at every other packaged drink as well. Gatorade, Body Armor, Arnold Palmer, etc. all have copious amounts of sugar. Are they delicious? YES. But they are not meant for everyday consumption.
What Should I Do?
Well, I would recommend shopping locally as much as possible. Though farms are harder to come across these days, they are still there. Buy your eggs, meat, dairy, and vegetables from your local farmer.
And if you struggle with food prep, trying designating a few hours on Sunday to prep ingredients. Make a big salad that will last the work week, cook up some chicken or pre-make burgers you can easily reheat or re-cook. Make a big thing of plain rice that you can spruce up every night. Cut up your fruits and vegetables so that they are ready to eat. Eating well is hard, especially when you're busy, but it’s certainly doable.
I hope this gave a little insight on what you are putting into your body. I’m not saying you need to eliminate all of your favorite foods, just be aware of what you are consuming and how that is going to affect you and how you feel. Happy Grocery Shopping!