Food Concerns

So I accidentally gave myself a week's bloggy vacation last week!  We were quite busy with house projects and trying to cross little things off the to-do list that have been ignored.  Recently added:

As you can see, our slider blinds are no longer lost!  Well, actually, they are, but the company rush-ordered a new set to us, so in just under two weeks we had them and got them up.  Much better than the dusty fabric vertical blind that was hanging there before.  So kudos to for rushing our order and giving us a discount for the mishap, and to Yellow Freight for not losing the package this time.

Anyway, in my absence, I did some reading online and have come across a few disturbing articles about food.  We all know the general hoopla about not eating too much fat, sugar, carbs, meat, and on and on.  But there have been stories circulating that talk about a recent study linking the artificial butter flavoring you find on microwave popcorn with triggering Alzheimer's disease.  CBS News has this story, which basically says that the butter flavoring chemical (known as diacetyl or DA), which is also found in many other foods that have butter flavoring including margarine, candy, and baked goods, acts the same way as the protein that causes Alzheimer's, creating clumping on nerve cells.  (Additionally, if you breathe the stuff in, it has been shown to have ill effects on the lungs.)

Then there was this article from NBC News (thanks, Jen from itty bitty bag for tweeting this!) questioning what is "natural flavoring", which is found in loads of foods, including those labeled organic.  Natural flavoring can be a natural element like an essential oil, but it can be bonded with a synthetic one to produce a certain flavor.  I'm not sure what's organic about that.  (P.S. Diacetyl is sometimes be labeled as natural flavoring.)

So after being slightly horrified from these two articles, I decided to take a look through my refrigerator and pantry, just to see what I could see.  From the top: Smart Balance organic, Stonefire Naan, V8, Great Value Apple Juice, Quaker rice cakes, Cabot cheese, GoGo Squeeze applesauce, Blue Diamond pecan nut thins.

See that pesky "natural flavor" show up a few times?  I also found it in every single brand of yogurt we had, which really bugged me because we eat a lot of yogurt.

Anyway, this got me thinking about what we eat and what exactly is in the foods we eat.  I like to think that we eat pretty well.  Most of the meals we eat are homemade, but I am definitely a snacker, and I do buy some packaged snacks, though I try to go for "healthier" versions if I can.  And still, apparently, there's junk in them (see the rice cakes above, which are always said to be a decent snack).

Between the butter flavor study and the natural flavoring explanation, some chatting with the hubs about it, and really thinking this past week about what we eat, I've decided that I want to make some changes to what my family eats.  I want to buy more things with fewer ingredients, and ingredients that I can pronounce and understand what they are.  I want to attempt to make whatever I can by hand and not resort to (as many) prepackaged foods.  This week I hope to share some of the small changes I've already made, and I'm hoping to have an excellent guest post on the subject as well.

I'd love for you to share thoughts on this subject!  How do you eat?  Are you a packaged food eater, or do you stick to whole foods?  Are you trying to eat healthier?  Are you concerned with additives put into food?


  1. You sound just like me a couple years ago :)

    I got my first "taste" of this life then and I've been doing research (and recently blogging) about everything homemade, handmade, organic and toxin free. We eat as much organic as our budget allows and very little meat. I also make all of our cleaning products and Im starting on hygiene products.

    Seriously, once you start, you cant go back. I love it!

  2. Nooo! I love microwave popcorn!

    We've been trying to eat healthier over the last couple of years, and it's a bit easier now that we have a garden at our disposal. I'm still not making a ton from scratch, but we have started buying things with fewer ingredients like you mentioned. It's always such a slap in the face when these articles come out, especially the ones about so-called "natural" foods actually being pretty bad for you. I've been thinking more and more about starting to bake (ugh!) because I know they sneak all sorts of stuff into bread, cookies, etc.

  3. We did a 100-mile diet a few years back, which included everything that we consumed, but also (almost) everything we brought into our home for birthdays, holidays, etc. It was incredibly eye opening. Although we purchased less overall, everything was more it was financially a wash. We learned a lot about our local agriculture and artists. We became creative with how we prepared meals since our ingredients were more limited. It was a fantastic, highly recommended experience.

    Since that year, we almost always choose to eat/shop locally. We grow and put up as much as we can. It basically changed the way we approach life.

    Thanks for initiating a great dialogue!

  4. i enjoy your post a lot and this is something i often whine about to my hubs as well.
    I have heard that popcorn butter is like.. the worst artificial thing ever. But people have always said that about diet sodas and it just makes me wonder how much of a scare-fad it is. But im biased because how could i live without popcorn and chocolate and wine?? the ultimate dinner option.
    And. Ingredients dont scare me as much as advertising on these products. My most recent memory was a "natural" maple syrup that said really big on the bottle "NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP". The first ingredients were "fructose" "corn syrup". Should that really count?!
    anyways good luck this week!!!

  5. I'm a huge fan of buying things that have few ingredients and ingredients I can pronounce. I've had the rule of thumb that I have to be able to pronounce the ingredients for a while. I also do not buy the fat free or reduced fat options because the fat is usually replaced with more harmful chemicals that makes it fat free! I also avoid things that say stuff like "may contain soy" or have soy added to them for now reason. A lot of times, those are the foods that have used genetically modified soy which totally freaks me out. Eating this way always tastes so much better and fresher anyway, so I figure it's a win-win situation.

  6. Loving the new blinds:)

    I actually just blogged about the subject:
    Good luck with your investigations/ cleansing of your fridge!

  7. Great info! I also agree with Heidi, I've been trying to eliminate processed food from our diet as well. Not like totally obsessed or anything, just looking for more ways to eat foods that are closer to their natural state. Today I made fresh tomato sauce with my own garden tomatoes. No Ragu here! I'm also a big cereal lover, and that's probably one of the big offenders. So I do mostly oatmeal:)