Health Goals and the U.S Food Industry

 MediterraneanEating habits

I was lucky to grow up with surprisingly health-conscious parents when it came to quality food (more on that here) which laid the foundation for my awareness of and interest in nutrition, gardening, and health science.  But over the past few years I’ve dropped the ball. Sure, after watching the documentary Food, Inc and reading In Defense of Food (among others) in 2009, I made some small, swift efforts to improve what and how Brian and I eat, but that list should have evolved over time.

For example, I still try to:

– Buy organic for all dairy
– Buy organic for the “dirty dozen” (fruits and veggies that rate highest for pesticides, like apples)*
– Buy organic greens, like lettuce and arugula
– Buy only organic chicken, pork, and grass-fed beef and ground meats
– Limit consumption of animal products to 2-3/week
– Buy seafood using the guidelines
– Serve at least one vegetarian dinner/week
– Swap ground beef for lean, ground turkey or chicken
– Drink a lot of black, Oolong and Matcha green teas (among others)
– Avoid processed foods by not buying foods that come in a box, bag, or package (think: Ore0s, potato chips, granola bars)
– Avoid soda


I’m hardly a strict adherent to any of these and when I’m having a Cape Cod Potato Chip Salt ‘n Vinegar craving or am dying to taste the unique vanilla-raisin flavor specific to a Coke, you bet I treat myself to the occasional bag or chips or crack open a can of cola. Not often, but I’m human. The more alarming truth is that I haven’t added to this list of “rules” for YEARS.

My wake-up call occurred recently, when I tossed all my tea. Let me explain.

Months ago Brian told me he’d read about the shocking prevalence of pesticides in a LOT of the tea brands I drink (including some organic ones), but I just didn’t want to deal with it at that moment. (I had a LOT of nice teas I didn’t want to toss!) Then last week I happened to see a chart on Facebook that finally made me pay attention. This passivity, this “wait until later” attitude is what I want to CHANGE this year. I’ve just felt so discouraged by the uphill battle we have to fight here in the U.S to make the best food choices that any ongoing effort feels futile. It shouldn’t have to be so much work just to make dinner! But it’s one of my New Year’s resolutions is to take better charge of this area of my life.

I also want to make a better effort to keep up with current health news and really think about things like watching my cholesterol and how to protect my knees and hips so I’m sprightly into my 90’s (haha).  Since this is a topic that interests me and (I think) interests others too, I’m going to share what I learn each week here on the blog.

Here’s to a healthier, tastier 2014!

*FYI, the “Clean Fifteen” is the Environmental Working Group’s list with the least amount of pesticides and includes: corn, onions, pineapples, avocados, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, papayas, mangoes, asparagus, eggplant, kiwi, grapefruit, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and mushrooms. Please note that this list changes every year!


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