"Just get me stuff for a PB&J," he said.
My parents are aduki beans and brown rice kinda people. They eat fruit for dessert. They didn't have the makings for a PB&J
So I picked up a few things, including the kind of bread he liked, Oroweat's Oatnut.
After the initial "wonderful to meet you," we settled into the kitchen while my husband ate his sandwich. My mother picked up the loaf of Oroweat on the table, turned it over to read the ingredients and announced,
"This stuff could kill you."
So much for impressing your future mother in-law.
My husband would say later,
"I thought it was natural. It says it has oats and nuts!"
What he didn't know is that it also contained high fructose corn syrup.
In Sugar Coated, San Francisco Chronicle reporter, Kim Severson, writes about the unexpected presence of high fructose corn syrup in our food:
"Because high fructose corn syrup mixes easily, extends shelf-life and is as much as 20 percent cheaper than other sources of sugar, large-scale food manufacturers love it. It can help prevent freezer burn, so you'll find it on the labels of many frozen foods. It helps breads brown and keeps them soft, which is why hot dog buns and even English muffins hold unexpected amounts. "Its hard to know what is "healthy" and "natural" based on labels. The Star-Ledger reported yesterday that a New Jersey woman filed a suit against Snapple because their labels say that their drinks are "all natural" and "made from the best stuff on Earth," but they contain high fructose corn syrup.
Even the organic label can be hard to trust, not to mention the food from the 180 Chinese food factories that were shut down, "after investigators found illegal ingredients being added to food products. The ingredients included 'mineral oils derived from the processing of petroleum, paraffin, formaldehyde and the carcinogenic malachite green, a synthetic dye used to color fabrics.'"
It's no wonder that eating local, organic food is becoming increasingly popular.
But how do you do you eat locally? It sounds kind of daunting doesn't it? I think so.
Last spring Treehugger shared a number of resources in its post, "Get Ready for Earth Day: Eat Local Food." I thought the two most helpful sites were Local Harvest, a web site you can use to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, and 100 Mile Diet, a site and blog, created by Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, who only ate food grown within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver, British Columbia for one year. They recently published a book about their experience called Plenty, which I think I'm going to add to my summer reading list.
If you want to get really inspired by the yumminess of eating locally, check out the show The Endless Feast on PBS this summer (air times vary). Eight hosts, including the authors of Grub, Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry, meet local farmers and eat their food at "feasts" in the US and British Columbia.
Sustainable Table, the nonprofit program that produced The Meatrix and the Eat Well Guide will be taking off on a similar trip next month, the Eat Well Guided Tour. They will travel in a bio-fueled bus approximately 5,000 miles in 38 days, stopping in over 25 cities on their way to the Farm Aid concert in New York City. You can join the tour online or on the road.
Eating local organic food is not only good for the environment (less fuel is used to transport the food), and for the local economy, but hopefully you'll have enough information about what you buy to know if it is truly "natural."
Do you try to eat locally? What have been the successes and challenges? What resources and tips can you share for people who want to eat locally, but don't know where to start?
Photo Credit: Grocery Story by About What Rhymes with Nicole.