My little Sunshine is having some tummy trouble, so I thought I'd cut out his dairy products and gluten for a few days to give his digestive system a break. I'm not planning on putting him on The Diet, I just want to reduce the load for a few days. While gluten is relatively easy for the short term since I make most of my meals from scratch, the kid really really likes milk. So I thought I'd get a milk substitute for him and after some deliberation I decided coconut milk would be the least processed option. Frustration then ensued.
First, I had to find the "unsweetened" coconut milk. Not the "No sugar added" because that is full of mystery sweet. I finally found it and lo, it is full of supplements. I am not sure why this bothers me, but it does. Why can't I just have coconut milk? Anyway, I brought it home and he likes it fine.
So after a long, frustrating, venture to the store with only five items on my list, I came home and poured myself a bowl of cereal and topped it with "real" milk. In my house, cereal is snack food. We rarely eat it for breakfast. I keep it on hand for no power emergencies, teenage snack attacks and moments when I am in desperate need of comfort food. Like after trips to a store that should have it's own zip code. But comfort was not to be had. I made a mistake. I read the ingredients.
Corn Flakes. Simple right? Not likely. The ingredients are corn, 6 different kinds of sugar, a whole bunch of vitamin and mineral supplements and then - BHA added to packaging. *sigh* This is why I cook from scratch. This is why I moved out to the country to start a 1 acre mini farm. Because nothing is sacred.
In this state of mind, my eyes fell upon a comforting statement "Made with non-GMO ingredients". Well that's good. At least I got something right. But did I? Because that statement doesn't say "Made without GMOs" or "Made with non-GMO" corn. They could be talking about one of the many varieties of sugar or one of the vitamin supplements.
When I was in the grocery store buying this box of cereal, my little Sunshine pointed to another box of cereal and made his excited "I want that" noise. The box was bright and full of colors and marshmellows. I told him "Oh no kiddo, you will never convince me to buy that kind of cereal". And an elderly woman shopping nearby heard the exchange and said "Good for you!" And I admit I felt somewhat smug. But really. How smug can I be? Is a cereal full of marshmallows that much worse than a "plain" "wholesome" cereal full of hidden sugar and weird shit? Might as well eat the marshmallows (if I liked marshmallows).
OK, so I know that cereal is like the most processed of processed food and I only buy it to please the teenager. I can't complain too much. But there is other stuff. If it's not the ingredients in the food itself, it's the way its grown or the packaging. Even someone who does most of their own home cooking, like myself, buys meat in plastic packages, frozen food in plastic bags and even canned food. I use a lot of canned tomatoes. I recently read an article (that I can't find again to reference) talking about the buildup of toxins from linings in cans of tomatoes. And another about a study linking said package-lining preservative chemicals to pre-term births. Of course I can't find that one either.
The danger in plastic-wrapped food can be somewhat mitigated by the fact that we don't own a microwave, so we never microwave anything in plastic. All of the plastic wrapped food is removed from the plastic before heating and often even before defrosting. And if I go to the butcher for my meat, instead of the meat aisle in the grocery store, I get better meat, often for a better price, wrapped in paper instead of plastic. But cans? If cans aren't safe what's a girl to do?
I realize that said articles were probably sensationalist nonsense written by people with no understanding of the scientific method who scanned a summary of a journal article and picked out the most shocking bits. I am brilliant at tearing out the pseudo-scientific nonsense in articles about things that don't strike terror into my heart personally.
Now my husband thinks I'm silly. He assures me that we are much less chemical-soaked than the average American and most people aren't suffering terribly. And he's probably right. Anyway, by the end of next year, at least a portion of our canned tomatoes, pickles, etc. will be from our own garden and thus free of whatever the scary chemical of the day is.