Here is your weekly newsletter. We hope you enjoy!
Thank You so much,
Sidra and David
Part 1: Food Origin and Quality
Lately more and more people are aware that it is essential to know food to live a healthy life. Yet despite innumerable sources of information, we are not always able to really know the food we eat.
Too often, the need to eat healthy clashes with the rules of commerce and even the foods we could normally call “healthy” are not at all.
Do you really know what you put on the table? We did some research and want to share with you what we found out.
The Origin of the Food and Methods of Cultivation
Is salad healthier than pork? A simple question, but only in appearance. If I told you that the salad was grown on land next to a paint factory on the other side of the world, while the pig was raised a few kilometers from your house in a large open area, only fed of natural food and then it was slaughtered a few hours before the meat was sold to you?
These days we often hear about healthy food and there are certain categories of foods that are suspected of causing various health problems. Sometimes meat, sometimes cow’s milk, sometimes salt.
Yet here we do not want to discuss the quality of food that way, but the quality of its production. If it is true that vegetables are good, it is equally true that they should be grown with safe methods, without dangerous pesticides, in lands far from polluted areas. This applies to foods of any category, without exception.
How do you know that the food you eat is healthy? Inquire, go beyond the labels, understand where it comes from and how it is produced.
The right to know the provenance is one of the aspects protected by the European Union and increasingly guaranteed to its citizens, who through the choice of food can reward productive chains and countries that respect workers’ rights, the environment and food safety.
However, there is a bit of confusion about what “origin” means. Up to a certain point, the term ‘origin’ was meant exclusively as the place of last transformation or packaging of the food. Thus, it was not possible for consumers to actually know where the food came from. Following the growing interest of both consumers and producers, the origin and provenance of foods are now mandatory and refer to the agricultural materials used. Furthermore, origin has become a mandatory indication for many products.
Once the origin of the food is clear, we can better inform ourselves about the country in question and about the methods of cultivation and breeding. Lately there is much talk of shopping local, but it is clear that everything depends on the quality and availability of the food so sometimes it is better to buy a food from abroad.
What do people care most about when they buy food? From recent surveys, the residues of antibiotics, steroids and hormones in meat. Following are the pollutants present in fish or dairy products, allergic reactions to food or drinks and traces of materials that come into contact with food, such as plastic or aluminum.
It is practically impossible to find out about every food we eat. Then we need to set priorities.
What is at the basis of our diet? Potatoes? Pasta? Chicken meat? Check which foods you and your family eat most often.
At this point it is worthwhile to seriously inquire about its origin and production methods, and whenever possible, choose the best quality, even if this could mean spending a little more.
The basis of our diet, that of our children, and that of the elderly, must be considered carefully.
If once in a while you eat food that you don’t have information on, drink a glass of wine, eat a pizza at a restaurant, buy a packet of biscuits from an unknown brand or eat unhealthy tomatoes, it will not be the end of the world!
Remember that a healthy and strong body is able to cope with most difficulties.
Water, a Source of Life
We often forget that the main food necessary for survival is water. Remember that not only do we drink water, but we use it for cooking and preparing tea and coffee.
Perhaps where you live you have drinkable tap water, or you are forced to buy bottled water. In all cases, it is worth checking that the water we drink is good and free of pollution.
If we drink from the tap it is easy to analyze water from time to time and to verify its origin and the conditions of the aqueduct.
If it is bottled, it may be that the water at the source is excellent, but you have to be careful that it is bottled in containers without toxic substances.
In fact, exposure to polluted water for many years is dangerous to health.
Understand Labels and Packaging
Labels are a good source of information, although, as we shall see, they must not be the only source. The label shows the origin of fresh products such as meat and fish and shows the list of ingredients in industrial products.
Reading the label should be habitual behavior. In general, the ingredients are listed in order of importance. For example if in a fruit juice water and sugar are in first or second place, it means that they are the main component, while we can find fruit in the third or fourth place. We could discover for example that there are chicken nuggets that contain only 28% of chicken meat!
The labels also show information that can “contrast” with what the package wants us to believe. Unfortunately, too often we tend to identify as “healthy” the food that contains fewer calories. And unfortunately the food labeled “light” is not always healthier.
In fact, a light fruit yoghurt could contain dyes, preservatives and sweeteners, while a whole milk yogurt could contain only … milk! Yet one instinctively tends to consider the light one healthier because the whole yogurt is more “fat”.
Another important category is vegan foods, perceived as more healthy. Sometimes they are, sometimes not. Sometimes they are the same as the others … but they cost more.
This is the case with some types of vegan pesto. The traditional Italian pesto is made of: olive oil, basil, pine nuts, garlic and two types of cheese. Just avoid the cheese in the recipe and you have a vegan pesto!
But immediately comes the packaged vegan pesto made from: sunflower seed oil, sunflower seeds, rocket salad. It is certainly vegan and probably healthy, but it costs twice as much … because it rides the “Vegan” wave. Yet the ingredients included cost much less than those included in traditional pesto. And nothing tells us if the ingredients are really healthy or not!
The Importance of Variety
All nutritionists say it is important to follow a varied diet. In this way, all the nutrients, vitamins and mineral salts are taken. But variety is also important for quality. If it is true that we cannot know for sure what each food we eat contains, it is important to change.
The good news is that pollutants are dangerous only in overdose. Many metals, additives, pesticides, potentially dangerous dyes do not have immediate effect. Their effect is deleterious over the years.
If we drink a single glass of water in which are present, for example, traces of lead, no matter how horrifying that may be, we will bear no consequence. But if we are exposed to the polluting source for months or years then we will have many chances to contract diseases.
Here, in addition to information, changing food and drinks is also a smart choice from the point of view of origin, even when we consider the brand and the manufacturer.
If a brand made good cookies in the 70s it could have completely changed its production nowadays! What used to be good may not be good anymore and vice versa!
We know that it is essential to learn about food, but we do not want to get ill with Orthorexia!
Orthorexia is an eating disorder that leads to a manic search for natural, organic and non-contaminated food by artificial chemicals, characterized by exaggerated analyzes on the origin, processing and packaging of food.
Over time, the eligibility criteria of food become increasingly rigid and restrictive and you can even skip meals completely.
This obsession stems from the desire to improve one’s health – a correct basic attitude, which ends up turning into a phobia.
Orthorexia does not help our physical and mental health!
To eat healthy we must make an effort to inform ourselves about the true origin of the food. First of all, it is necessary to learn to read the labels of packaged foods to check that there are no unnecessary and harmful additives to health, and to understand that some foods are not healthier than others just because it is written on the packaging.
Therefore it is necessary to inquire about the origin of the food, to understand if in its production harmful methods or ingredients are used and if the food comes from polluted areas.
We need to prioritize the foods we eat most often and that are the basis of our family’s diet, those foods that give us our livelihood and make us strong and healthy. On the other hand, we must not become obsessed with verifying every food in a maniacal way!