Friday, July 30, 2010

Oishii: Keeping it Real

I'm a label reader.  And if you know me at all, you know that I'm looking for villains like MSG, aspartame, corn syrup, preservatives (like sodium benzoate), fluoride, and food coloring. 

In a recent article from the Center for Science in the Public Interest they announce that Europe has instituted a new warning label on foods that contain artificial coloring, because products with Yellow 5, Red 40,and other dyes “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”  The article states that:
Because the FDA hasn’t encouraged food manufacturers to switch to safer natural colorings, many American food companies use the chemicals in the United States products but not in the U.K. equivalents. For example, the topping for a McDonald’s Strawberry Sundae sold in the United States contains Red 40.

In the U.K., the topping’s color comes from strawberries.
Imagine that - rather than using artificial coloring to make strawberry sauce look appealing, in the UK they use real strawberries. 

I know many people put a lot of trust in the FDA to keep us safe (isn't that their job, afterall?) but my basic philosophy is this: if you can get something in it's unadulterated natural state, that is probably the better option.  Whole grains rather than processed crackers and cereals, grass-fed organic meats versus conventional or processed meat.  100% juice instead of Kool-Aid or juice cocktails (or God-forbid, soda!).  Real fruit instead of fruit snacks (though I am partial to dried fruit and fruit leathers).  I used to be a big fan of peanut m&ms, but now I opt for Sundrops (in moderation, of course. Saving my body from the ravages of food coloring isn't helpful if I'm poisoning it with an OD of sugar and caffeine!). 

Finding healthy, whole food snack items for the kids can be challenging sometimes because we're so "spoiled" with convenience foods, which tend to be highly-processed, chemical-laden concoctions that may be doing a lot of harm to our bodies.  So here is a list of some things that we always try to keep on hand:

whole fresh fruits and veggies
dried fruits and fruit leathers
nuts (chestnuts, almonds and cashews are our favorites)
whole grain bread
hardboiled eggs
homemade popsicles and smoothies

And for those of you who think healthy, organic food is just for the rich, you may want to check out this article from Mothering Magazine.  Another article from Mothering Magazine offers ideas for healthy snacks and lunches.  I'm sure many of you have other snacks that work for your family - please share!

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