I Want Real Food… is that too much to ask for?

One of my main goals for the new year was to really start eating all-natural, whole foods.

And it didn’t take too long for me to come to this conclusion: I think it’s sad that we have to put so much thought into eating foods that haven’t been tampered by chemicals, hormones, and dyes. I mean, if it were up to me, it’d be against the law to sell foods that contain ingredients not meant for human consumption. 😉 I can’t help but feel as though I should be able to walk into the grocery store and grab any food item and bring it home without worrying that there might be something harmful listed in its ingredients.

It’s just common sense. Food is for eating. Therefore, anything labeled as food should just contain… food.

Now I understand that it’s up to us to decide how much fat, salt, and sugar we want to consume. And it should be that way. We’re all big boys and girls and should be deciding what we do or don’t want to eat. But it shouldn’t be so complicated to find real food. I shouldn’t grab a boxed item off the shelf and struggle with pronouncing so many of its ingredients. I shouldn’t have to pay $10 for one pound of chicken, just because I want that pound to be free of hormones and cruelty to animals. (And honestly, I don’t pay that $10. I probably should, but I still go for the cheaper chicken… although I’ve begun to buy local, grass fed beef. I just haven’t been able to fit the more expensive chicken into my budget).

It’s frustrating that even when you try to eat healthy, you have to be concerned about what found its way into that 1% milk… or what was fed to the chicken that laid your eggs… or even what may have been slipped into your whole wheat bread. I mean, I know that I wasn’t the only one that was horrified to learn that Subway bread contained an ingredient found in rubber. Nate and I used to eat there every Tuesday night after church, since we didn’t get home until so late.

Considering the amount of sandwiches we consumed, we probably have a pair of cowboy boots sitting in our stomachs, between the two of us.

Granted, Subway has promised to remove that product from its bread, but – seriously – why was it in there to begin with??? I know that it’s supposed to improve the elasticity of the bread dough; but let me tell you, my Memere never put rubber in her bread… and her bread was a slice of heaven! Why is it suddenly okay to sneak non-food ingredients into our food?? I’m confused as to why the FDA approves products like this, claiming they’re safe… when studies are showing that some of these products have caused cancer in lab animals (in addition to possibly causing asthma and respiratory problems).

And don’t think that Subway alone is to blame. I was reading an article by the Huffington Post, and they claim that this same rubber ingredient (azodicarbonamide) is found in over 500 common foods! I researched a bit further, and according to the article ‘Over 500 Ways to Make a Yoga Mat Sandwich’ this rubber product is found in such foods as Fiber One hamburger buns, Sun Maid Cinnamon Raisin bread (I’m crying over that one), Freihofer’s white bread, Harvest Pride wheat bread, Manischewitz pumpernickel bread, Pillsbury toaster strudels, yeast donuts from Walmart, several Weight Watcher Smart One meals, and Wonder light wheat bread.

How is this okay?

I get that we live in a fast-paced culture and there is massive demand for quick, packaged foods. So really, it’s our fault at the end of the day. We chose to face a blind eye to what’s being served to us, because we don’t want to make it ourselves anymore than we want to pay a little bit more for a mom and pop store that would make it for us. And because of it, these non-food ingredients are being added to our meals more often than we care to admit. And to buy foods that promise to be free of such things can cost a lot more.

(Thank goodness for sales at Trader Joes)!

Now I’m not trying to encourage everyone to panic, give up food, or to live in fear. There’s a reason why I say a prayer before every meal! 😉 And at the end of the day, you just have to make the best decisions that you can (or that you can afford to) and then you have to make life count. That’s all any of us can do! But I’m learning that eating more natural foods can be challenging, because a lot of additives (like azodicarbonamide) are snuck into the ingredient list… and most people just aren’t aware of it!

For me, I’m trying to reach for foods that have ingredient lists that I can actually pronounce. Like milk… flour… eggs… and yeast. And I am trying to make the majority of meals at home from fresh ingredients, instead of reaching for the packaged meals.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t – or won’t – splurge sometimes. And it doesn’t mean that I’m too good for whatever food that’s put in front of me! My hubby is totally munching on a bag of Dorito’s right now, and I think I might steal a few. 🙂 At the end of the day, I’ll enjoy and appreciate any meal that’s sitting before me.

And I know that I shouldn’t be ranting about our food issues unless I have a solution for the problem… which I don’t.

But I really hope that change comes somehow, or else the next generation of kids will be saying things like, “Remember the good ol’ days when people ate food that was made out of just… food?”

And as a foodie, that totally breaks my heart!

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15 thoughts on “I Want Real Food… is that too much to ask for?”

  1. I completely agree. It is sad that the state of food has reached this point in the US. And I do think the US is the worst or one of the worst. Too much salt, too many preservatives, and far too many unpronounceable words. It’s hard (and expensive) to eat REAL, untainted food. 😦

    1. Yes, it really is SO sad!!! At the end of the day, we have to do our best and be happy with that… but at the same time, I wish there was something more that we could do in order to bring about a change. Enough is enough! We don’t want rubber and other non-food products being added to our foods! 🙂 I’m hoping that someone out there will raise a big enough stink that change will happen. Ha, ha.

  2. I one hundred and fifty billion percent AGREE with you!!! It totally irks me. HFCS gets my blood boiling. ha. Actually, I feel this way about ALL things, especially products that I use on a daily basis. (what’s in my shampoo? face lotion? arrrgh!)

    I eat organic produce for breakfast and lunch: green smoothie and a salad. I figure that takes care of 2/3rds of my day without worrying. I try to pay attention to dinner too but I have to draw a line somewhere (or we’d go crazy, ya know?!?)

    Fun fact: Alton Brown doesn’t believe in spending the extra money on organic. He didn’t elaborate on why but I’m curious. He did say to try to buy all food from the US though, because it’s fresher and gets to you faster (so I guess less chance of preservative/chemical crap?)

    1. YES, very good point, my friend!!!! Sometimes I really focus on all-natural lotions and such, but oftentimes I don’t (because of expense or difficulty finding a product that actually works)!
      And, yes, we do have to draw a line, or we WOULD all go crazy.
      I really wish companies would get the hint that we don’t want crap put into any of our products anymore!!!

  3. I believe in doing the best that we can and leaving it at that…

    I do try to get as local as possible (e.g., local eggs = cheaper, tastier, more animal friendly, etc.) And I try to eat as close to the source as possible (e.g., oatmeal, oranges, eggs, beans, etc.) Nobody is perfect, but I think lessening the amount of processed foods that we rely on is always a good thing. It *usually* means less sodium, less funky ingredients, less added sugars, etc.

    And I don’t put too much stock in organic meats unless they’re local or I know exactly where they came from, as the quality of the food that the animal was raised on depends entirely on the farmer. Organic chickens, for example, could mean a bunch of chickens cooped up in a cage and fed organic pellets…which is sad from both an animal welfare standpoint and also a health standpoint (also a monetary standpoint!) Local chickens, on the other hand, could mean backyard grazing on bugs, seeds, etc.

    Anyways, this topic could carry me on for hours upon hours…haha! It’s really interesting. I do think we at least live in an area where people are demanding more local goods, which is awesome! 😀

    1. I believe in doing the best we can… but I don’t think we should leave it at that. 😉 (I know what you meant by that, in that you’re saying we shouldn’t freak out about the food we’re eating. AND I totally agree with that 100%)!!
      But what I mean is that nothing will change unless someone makes a stink. The foods being sold at the grocery store are getting out of control. Your typical family will grab for wheat bread, thinking that’s healthy, when that bread may contain harmful products. People shouldn’t have to worry about what’s added to their foods. And as far as I’m concerned, non-food products should never be added to food… period. So it makes me angry, and I really hope that enough people make a stink so that there ultimately is change! 🙂

      1. Yes, I agree! And I do think things are beginning to change for the better on many levels (Kraft got rid of yellow dyes in their mac&cheese after receiving pressure from unhappy moms…not that mac&cheese is exactly health food to begin with. 😉 ) Unfortunately, convincing companies to adopt healthier ingredients requires not only pressure from the buyers but also pressure from the FDA. And pressure on the FDA requires research projects to prove that ingredients are harmful (research projects = $$$.) There are many articles talking about the harmful effects of ingredients, but the FDA requires hard core proof. Which can be difficult, when there are so many conflicting research reports on specific ingredients (such as carageenan, which is something that I do try to avoid even though the FDA states that it is completely safe.)

        It comes down to being educated; the more people are educated on their food, the better.

        (p.s. You should read the Omnivore’s Dilemna…I own it if you want to borrow it…it is such an upsetting book but really good all at the same time!)

  4. I am a label reading nazi. I rarely put anything into my mouth without knowing exactly what’s in it. I actually enjoy this though, and I feel like I have power knowing whats in my food. Whole foods all the way!

    1. Honestly, GOOD for you!!! I think that more and more of us are following in your footsteps and really starting to read labels in order to make sure we’re putting whole foods – and nothing else – into our bodies.

  5. It is incredibly discouraging when you are on a budget and want to buy the best things for your family. It gets expensive so quick! I feel like if we could only pressure the FDA to change their standards and processes for approval that would make a HUGE difference! Sometimes I wish I lived in another country like the Netherlands where everything is so fresh in the grocery stores that you have to shop a couple times a week because nothing has preservatives and even potatoes spoil in a few days. Can you imagine how bad that means our vegetables are?! I can’t even think about it. I’m slowly starting to change my family over to healthier foods, but boy is it a process. And an expensive one at that! 😉

  6. Rubber ingredients in Subway bread?! I second your thought… why was it even in there to begin with? It’s incredibly frustrating when you’re trying to watch what you put in your body and you have to contend with all the food-like substances that processed foods have in them. It’s nice to be able to bake and cook everything from scratch but sometimes it’s so convenient to just pick up a box of crackers. But you’re right, sometimes those healthy and organic foods are expensive!

    1. Yes, definitely! All in moderation! I have to admit that when I eat out, I’m totally just looking for a yummy meal, as apposed to how nutritionally balanced it is. Ha, ha. 🙂

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