There is still a great deal of speculation, but many people believe that the many artificial foods that we eat are not only bad for our hearts, intestines and brains, but they also cause cancer. Some foods, such as the nitrates found in bacon and other highly processed meats, have actually been designated as being carcinogenic, and there is a big debate about whether or not genetically modified agricultural products may also be. But whether these facts about processed foods are scientifically based, or only based on speculation, the one thing everyone agrees on is that natural food products are not dangerous to our health. So let’s eat more of them, shall we?
The more you know about the foods you eat, the more you can be assured about where they came from and what is in them. Foods prepared by your own two hands, from ingredients that you bought locally, are about the best guarantee you can have. But you can also feel fairly confident that the dishes prepared at your local restaurant, deli or food market do not contain additives, and if you are not sure, just ask!
Grow Your Own
One sure way of knowing what is in the dishes you make is to grow the ingredients yourself. Summer gardens full of tomatoes, string beans, squash, and the fresh herbs to flavor them are the blessing of a summer table. But don’t forget about canning, or even just freezing all of your home grown goodness for the rest of the year.
Get Friendly with a Farmer
Depending upon how far from the country you live, you probably can find a farm within a pleasant day’s ride from home. Trucking his goods, paying a middle man and loss of goods en route add to every farmer’s cost, so try to strike a deal where you can take some of his produce, fresh from the field, off his hands.
Get Friendly with a Neighbor
There are two levels of benefits here. First of all, if you have arranged your deal with a farmer, you can take turns picking up your harvest and sharing the proceeds. Secondly, if you have a neighbor with a garden of his own, offer to take some of the product off his hands, when everything starts coming out at once. You can offer to pay for seeds, fertilizer, or do some weeding.
Stop At Stands
Always stop at roadside stands when you are out driving in the country. Never mind what you planned for dinner, buy what is fresh and in season and plan your meals around whatever you pick on a given day. Don’t let this great bounty sit around, enjoy it the day you buy it.
Farmer’s Markets Are Fun
Farmer’s markets are another great way to get excellent, unadulterated fresh produce. In many instances, the goods are picked in the morning and brought into town right away. Farmers are early risers. Again, take advantage of this freshness by planning that same evening’s meal around it.
Supermarkets Are Getting Into the Act
Many supermarkets now have a farmer’s market display in the produce section, and some have even gone so far as to set up a section in the parking lot that really emulates a farmer’s market. They feature fresh, locally grown produce and it is usually cheaper than what is in the other bins.
Not Just Vegetables
Farmer’s markets and other venues are starting to feature naturally raised meats from small farms. You can also buy natural soaps, oils, honey and candles that have been handcrafted from ingredients grown locally from these sources.
One of the reasons so many people end up eating prepared foods that are too often made with chemicals and preservatives is because they are too busy to cook. But there is no law that says you have to make a roast or sauté pork chops every night. Make a quick omelet with fresh herbs and vegetables; vegetables can be boiling the same time as the pasta for a quick and delicious pasta primavera. Get out of the rut of a big heavy meal each night.
Or Don’t Cook at All
A big bowl of greens and vegetables, tossed together with your own freshly made dressing is a real treat any night of the week, but can’t be beat on a hot summer evening.
Try to incorporate these tips into your family’s diet a little at a time, and before you know it, you will be eating naturally seven days a week.