There is so much hype these days about diets, super foods, tonics, elixirs and other catchy things that will make us strong and vibrant, but do we really need to be geniuses or food science savvy to eat healthy food? After reading Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, this question came to the forefront of my thoughts. It can often be pretty difficult to distinguish what foods are really good for you and your family when you are browsing through the many aisles of your local grocery store. However, I use a simple rule to keep my food supply healthy: if you cannot easily recognize what the primary plant or animal source of the food is, it probably is not a good healthy choice.
Take for instance, Cheetos. If you read the ingredient list, you will notice that one of the first ingredients listed is some form of flour, but the list of ingredients is pretty long and you may not even be able to pronounce some of the ingredients. This is a good sign that it is not on the list of healthy food. If you go to the fruit and vegetable section, it is very easy to identify what these plants are because they are in their raw form. No high fructose corn syrup, no potassium sorbate, no dextrose or monosodium glutamate. Just apples, oranges and potatoes. Admittedly, some of the packaged foods with many ingredients may be easier for people with busy lifestyles, but a bit of cooking and planning can make choosing healthier foods as easy as those that are not so good for you.
One of the many ironies of our modern food system is that healthier food items often cost more than items that are not good for you. Why? well, because the system of food production supports growers that grow single crops on large acreage of land and send the raw crops to processing plants where chemicals are added to them, they are packaged and cheap gasoline combined with bulk shipping makes it profitable for these products to be shipped all over the country without being to expensive for the consumer. Yet the more we choose to buy foods that are not processed and loaded with artificial ingredients, the more the market will respond by making these healthy foods more available and easy on our pocketbooks. So vote with your dollar and be healthy. Of course, there is always the option of growing your own food to ensure what goes into it.