DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU ARE EATING?©
- Is it any good for you?
- What’s for breakfast?
- What is really in that cornflake?
By JO MOON
I think this article deserves a few headlines as there are so many questions relating to food.
Originally we ate whatever was available from the plants and trees around us. In the ideal world I think we still would.
A large proportion of us live in the urban world due to practicalities. We may work and have children and others to care for. Money could be scarce or an issue. We may have to work hard and long hours to gain enough to keep ourselves and our loved ones. All this results in us needing and desiring quick and easy food to eat:
We don’t have the energy to cook after a long day at work…
We can’t easily access healthy whole-foods unless we live near a health-food shop…
We have seen plenty of ads where seemingly happy and healthy families sit down to a plate full of packet or tinned, processed food and it looks good.
The kids seem to love the convenience foods so why not keep them happy and quiet and give them another can of coke and frozen pizza?
I am writing this because it is often the truth. I do not live this way myself because I have learnt through experience that good health is dependant upon good and healthy eating habits. The media will certainly not highlight this to the extent that it needs highlighting, though of course the ‘5 a day’ slogan has become quite ingrained in the UK now and we know we need 5 fruit and veg a day to keep us going.
It is good to eat our 5 fruit and vegetables but if they are not organic they will be saturated with toxic chemicals from pesticides. These have been proved to cause severe and sometimes fatal health problems. Yet when people buy a bag of apples they may look so rosy, fresh and juicy on the supermarket shelves it is hard to imagine they contain anything bad at all. It is truly amazing how well things can be covered up and made to look appealing. As human beings we are influenced predominantly by visual perceptions so we can often be deceived by what we see.
On another point, there may be fruit trees standing idly outside supermarkets and shops, with luscious fruits just waiting to be eaten. However it is more likely that the same fruit will be bought from the supermarket and people won’t even notice the trees. I have seen plum, apple and cherry trees in my neighbourhood and plenty of blackberry bushes. Some people still go blackberry picking but most will prefer to go to the supermarket. On the whole we don’t want to make much effort acquiring our food and we like it to look clean! Toxicity is bought in preference to the raw grit and dirt of pulling out a carrot from our back garden. Of course we don’t all have access to a garden for growing but wild food foraging is still possible once you have the necessary knowledge. In the UK we have dandelion leaves, hawthorn berries, plantain leaves, sea-kale on the beach, wild garlic, blackberries, rose hips, nasturtiums and much more. Whole salad bowls can be made up from this wild and free food.
As I ate a bowl of organic cornflakes the other day I did wonder exactly what I was eating. As they were vegan and sugar free I assumed I was eating a fairly good food source and not any old cornflake. However, when I got to think about it I realized I was eating a highly processed corn on the cob with some syrup on top. I then wondered why I was hungry again only a couple of hours later.
Today I watched a video about how cornflakes are actually made. This convinced me further that cornflakes are not the best source of nutrition to start the day. If we are going to eat highly processed sweetcorn why not just eat a tin of sweetcorn instead or a steamed corn on the cob? I think the cob has far more value than eating the starchy part of the original corn which has then been put under high heat, dried and finally toasted. Due to the fact that the original goodness of the corn has to be removed first, artificial nutrition is added later in the form of B vitamins and iron, with the addition of lots of sugar and salt (though not in the organic version). Sugar depletes the body of nutrients anyway. Finally, on the question of breakfast cereals, would you normally eat sweetcorn with milk and sugar?
My perception also is that many other breakfast cereals are so highly processed from the original food source that they contain very little nutrition and lots of unhealthy sugar and salt instead. It takes a lot of energy and fuel to create a food source which, by the end of the process, is barely food at all anyway.
Perhaps this does not sound so appealing to some, but having a bowl of brown rice in the morning with some nuts, seeds, fruit and spices would be a far better solution for breakfast. Rice is long sustaining, filling and nutritious. It does not need to be an arduous task: simply boil up a big pan of rice for the whole family or whoever is in your household and let people add whatever they like: sunflower seeds, raisins, cinnamon, prunes, dates, honey, tahini, hazelnuts, desiccated coconut – but please avoid the refined sugar (but would you put sugar on rice anyway?)! That way it could be fun and versatile. You could also add rice, coconut or hemp milk – the choice of vegan milks is wide ranging now and they taste delicious.
Alternatively make superfood smoothies with organic fruit, goji berries, carob powder, macca powder, cacao nibs, fresh ginger and perhaps whatever is in season and local (I realize this is not always so easy – but taking children out on blackberry picking excursions will help them associate the food they eat with where it originates from and that connection is often lacking now).
Have fun cooking and creating new, healthy alternatives for breakfast and other meals and discover what gives optimum energy, vitality and health – because each person is different and has different bodily needs.
We need to break free from old habits now, where we have accepted a certain way of eating for decades. We need to look after our health and bodies in a better way above all else. This is how we can evolve as a human species and find new solutions to many ongoing global problems.
If we don’t feed our brains and bodies to the optimum, we will not be functioning at our optimum and that is a sad fact because many of us are not functioning at our optimum. We need to be!
We are about to embark on a crucial time in the Earth’s history, 2012. We need to evolve. We need to be strong. We need to do everything in a new way to maximize our survival on this planet. Our nutrition is a vital part of what it means to be human.
Let’s take good care of ourselves and listen carefully to us as individuals rather than the ads!
On a final note, I believe that a new law should be passed that makes it a legal requirement for every food outlet, whether small shop/cafe or large organisation to sell healthy whole-food options. This should apply to take-aways as well. The human body is entitled to be fed healthy nutrition and there should be no need for any of us to be starved nutritionally.