Monday, April 19, 2010

The Simple Things

At the Down 2 Earth Expo in Boston just the other weekend, I was awed and excited to take part in the kids' activity sponsored by Organic Valley of making our own butter. Who knew that putting a little heavy cream in a glass jar and shaking it vigorously was all you needed to do to create your own homemade butter? Certainly not I! Simple, easy, delicious - and a great activity for the kids both at the Expo and to do at home.

Although I am often short on time and may not always be the best planner, what inspires me (and many other parents) to turn to homemade products is a growing uncertainty and even distrust of our food manufacturers, their processes, and, perhaps most significantly, their ingredients. Whether you have children with food allergies/sensitivities or are simply looking for safe, natural products without chemical additives, "making your own" is the easiest way to control the ingredients and quality of the food that your family consumes. Powerful movies like Food, Inc. fuel the fire and inspire us to buy better, learn more, and make conscious choices.

The list of ingredients in our foodstuffs is nothing short of astounding. According to a Business Week article, the average American eats their weight in food additives every year. Many of these additives have been implicated in everything from cancer to ADHD. The Feingold Association of the United States, for example, has extensive links to research on the association between food additives and allergies, autism, depression, learning difficulties, seizures, and more. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has a handy online guide to help us all weed through the growing lists of additives and to assess their safety. Just getting started? reported on 12 food additives to avoid - a good beginning point for anyone trying to eat healthier and safer. How do we protect our families? By becoming informed and taking control, says Robyn O'Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It.

It begins with awareness and, for me, leads toward simplicity. The more whole, natural, and unprocessed a food, the better. Foods with too many ingredients are off my list. No matter what nutritional path you follow, you can always eat healthier by emphasizing food products in their natural, unaltered state. In the end, simple is definitely better!

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