Posts Tagged ‘Nutrition’

What’s for Dinner?

October 10, 2010

There is so much information in the media right now about eating ‘clean’ or ‘whole’ or ‘raw’ or ‘organic’ foods that it can become confusing what all these words mean. What’s this ‘macrobiotic’ craze, anyway? Community gardens? Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution? Processed foods?

When I was growing up, we were unknowingly eating organic, whole, local, home-grown food. You see, we lived on a small farm in rural Minnesota where we maintained a garden and ate the animals we raised. Why? Because we had a large family and one man to support us all on his trucker’s income. I guess you could say we had a ‘community’ garden supported by 11 people (Mom, Dad and 9 more-often-than-not reluctant children).

Thanksgiving meal consisted of the turkeys (free-range!) we raised over the course of a year, milk from the cow (hormone-free!) in the grassy pasture (!!), eggs (organic!) from the neighbors’ chickens, potatoes, carrots and corn from our garden (pesticide-free!)…we were eating world-class food! We even made our own ice-cream (move over, ben & jerry)!

I am pretty lucky to understand where my steak, eggs, turkey and cheese come from…witnessing firsthand the beheading of chickens, skinning cows, slaughtering pigs and the dilemna of eating Fluffy-The-Bunny. I am decidedly not vegetarian but am conscious of my purchases, making sure my steaks aren’t from some creepy midwestern antibiotic-ridden mad-cow-disease-infested factory, nor my eggs from ‘nervous hens’. Sometimes I get grossed out drinking cows’ milk. I just can’t shake the memory of tugging an udder for eternity only to have the cow kick over the bucket after hours of my hard work!

Many of my city-folk neighbors do not appreciate this process: how is a child raised in Harlem, Brooklyn or the Lower East Side supposed to know where their chicken nuggets come from? Unless they’ve visited a farm or taken a course on horticulture, ‘hormone-free’ or ‘organic’ might just be fancy words on supermarket packages.

A great place to start understanding our food might be Michael Pollan‘s book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemna“. In it, he tries to answer some of the most basic questions about our food: Should we eat a fast-food hamburger? Something organic? Or perhaps something we hunt, gather, or grow ourselves? I also really loved the movie (or book), “Food, Inc.” It’s a fascinating look at industrial, processed foods. Visiting a farm, apple orchard or community garden might shed some light on where food comes from.

Even I learned something on a recent Connecticut farm visit! Did you know Venus Fly Traps need a little raw hamburger every now and then?!


The Sugar Ban

October 8, 2010

I live in a mixed-income neighborhood in Harlem but do most of my grocery shopping at Whole Foods. When I run into a particular ingredient shortage, I head to the local bodega just up the street. It never ceases to amaze me when I see my fellow neighbors buying chips, soda-pop, ice cream, candy and cheap processed–if you can call it–food with food stamps.

In the news recently, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seeking to ban sugary drinks from the food stamp program…yet, I see ads all around town trying to fight this proposal. This is the same guy who banned smoking in bars & restaurants, trans fats from restaurant food and forced chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus. New York officials wrote that spending government money on “foods of little or no nutritional value not only contradicts the intent of the program, it also effectively subsidizes a serious public health epidemic.” Bloomberg has said, “Sugar-sweetened drinks are not worth the cost to our health, and government shouldn’t be promoting or subsidizing them.”

Next up: the salt ban…Bloomberg plans on tackling the amount of sodium allowed in foods by getting manufacturing companies to commit to voluntarily reducing sodium in their foods. A man after my heart…!

The cigarette ban certainly worked for me…I quit smoking when the smoking ban took effect. In addition to it not being ‘cool’ anymore, it was easier not to light up if nobody else was doing it. I hope the sugar, salt, trans-fat, calorie-counting initiatives work for others the way the smoking ban worked for me!!


August 2, 2010

I like going to the movies.
When I do, I order popcorn. It’s my treat, my vice, my salt lick.
Ironically, I saw the movie Salt today.
(Jolie is amazing, the movie, “meh”.)
In my small popcorn, there were 225 calories, of which, 105 were from fat. I consumed 150 milligrams of sodium and 26 grams of carbs.
I guess I should reconsider my snack at the movies.
Consider the following alternatives for mindless movie snacking:

  • 1 apple cut into slices dipped into 1T peanut butter
  • sliced bell pepper with 2T hummus
  • small bag of popchips
  • 1/2 cup trail mix with m&m’s mixed in
  • LaraBar
  • 1T almond butter with 2 graham crackers

Much better bang for your buck, don’t you think? I should practice what I preach!!