What’s On Your Platter?

I recently watched Food, Inc.  If you haven’t taken the time to watch it, you should.  It’s undoubtedly an eye-opener and causes the viewer to ponder what they are eating.  Rather than focus on all the thought provoking facts this film brought out, I leave that as the teaser for you to see for yourself.  I’d like to consider what we can do to eat healthier and support local economies.

Wrap your brain around this concept, the more we see our world becoming smaller through technology and forms of communication, the more we should pay attention to our local sustainability.  Hasn’t this already been said in other words?  Think globally, act locally.  In the movie, Food, Inc., a statistic indicated that the average meal consists of food that has travelled about 1500 miles to get to the market and on to our table.  THAT warps my mind.  That fact alone contradicts another fact.  The healthiest plan for consuming foods in any form is to eat the food that grown or produced within ideally 50 miles and acceptably 100 miles of where we live.

Consuming locally produced food encourages a healthier lifestyle and helps the local economy.  In the matter of health, consuming local foods helps build our immune system, promotes better digestion, and encourages a healthier metabolism because we are eating the foods best suited for us in the climate where we live.  For example, inhabitants of northern climates tend to consume more “warming” foods to maintain bodily warmth than those in southern climates who would tend to consume more cooling foods or foods that encourage the body to cool down.  That’s why some southwestern dishes may be spicy and hot in flavor because they encourage the body’s natural ability to cool off through sweat.  These examples don’t mean we should never try eating other foods from other climates and cultures.  Certainly, even those in the north should also eat “cooling” salads, fruits, and like foods during warmer months.  We should just consume a higher percentage of the foods common to our geographic location.  Economically, consuming locally grown and produced foods helps the local farmers and food producers.   So, take the time to read where the food is grown or produced.  Go to farmers’ markets and their local stands for your food. Support and participate in community gardens.

Another consideration, read the label!  Just because the front cover claims the food is healthy and natural may not be entirely true when the label is read.  When you start to see the list of preservatives, food colors, additives, and yes the big three, fat (although not all fat is bad), salt (sodium), and sugar, you may wish to reconsider just how healthy and natural is the food after all.  When you read the sodium content at 25% to 30% RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), that’s moderate to high considering it’s one part of the meal.  Then there’s hydrogenated oils (what a fun word – Hydrogenated), but what does this mean for me and my body?  The process of hydrogenation combines hydrogen to the material to help reduce or saturate (that’s the key for us to “saturate”) compounds.  Oils are hydrogenated as a preservative.  That was the original intent, but their long term affects on our health were not studied.  What do these oils do to us?  First of all, hydrogenated oils are basically unnatural oils with many becoming “trans-fatty acids.”

There are so many more considerations regarding the foods we consume.  I’ve only skimmed the surface.  This blog can be summed up by this, consider the source of the food, read labels on the food, and does it support local growers, farmers, and other food producers.  I recognize that we may not be able to follow these suggestions to the letter, but even a small effort toward them will net positive results for you and others.  What’s on your platter?

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