The other day I was having dinner with a colleague. When his steak and baked potato arrived he was asked if he wanted sour cream, chives and bacon bits on top. When he answered “yes please” the server loaded up the potato with sour cream, chopped green onions and imitation bacon bits.
Did the server not know how to tell the difference between chives and green onions?
When did we start accepting smoke flavoured hydrolysed soy protein as a replacement for real bacon bits?
We should call food-like products what what they actually are:
Sugar water with food colouring.
Plastic-like bread-size slabs coloured to vaguely resemble cheese.
White powder from the inside of genetically modified, non-destructible grass seeds.
Dried cereal mush with loads of sugar and teeny-tiny bits of dried fruit.
Many years ago I had a friend who wrote restaurant reviews for the local paper. It was always a treat to go out for dinner with him as he got the best seat and the best service … that is if the server recognized who he was.
One afternoon we were having a relaxing lunch on a patio at a local pub. He ordered the crab croissant and boy did he get cranky after that first bite. Seems that the ‘crab’ meat was actually crab-flavoured pollock, aka imitation crab.
When he questioned the young server, she was completely perplexed … she didn’t know the difference … and we were in a coastal community where real crab was abundant. My friend raised such a fuss that the manager came to our table and agreed to change the menu listing to disclose that the dish contained imitation crab meat.
That was a big lesson for me and I hope that restaurant reviewer is still out there keeping restaurants honest. We could use someone like him in the grocery stores too.
Its cold and flu season … just in case you hadn’t heard about it in the news … and I’m surrounded by people in various stages of sniffles and coughs, and plenty of people who have been down a few days and recovered.
With all this going on I’ve been thinking about how to fortify my immune system the low crap way.
So I started blending up a small clove of garlic with my morning smoothie. I don’t do it every day … just the days that I wake up with a little tickle in my throat (which is a sure sign my immune system is under serious strain.)
I’ve discovered over the years that when my body needs a garlic boost I am not bothered by the unpleasant smell normally associated with eating raw garlic. When I start to smell garlic coming through my skin, then I know that the garlic has done its job in fortifying my immune function and I won’t eat it for a few days.
If you really don’t like the taste of garlic in your smoothie (its actually quite subtle) then you can take deodorized garlic tablets (1 or 2 per day is plenty) and achieve the same results. Remember though, processed garlic tablets are not low crap … what with all the packaging and processing that goes on to make them.
Garlic is worthy food medicine to keep on hand. It has antibiotic and antiviral properties and it is excellent for both preventing and treating respiratory conditions such as colds and flu. While you are keeping away colds and flus you will also be doing your heart good as garlic will lower cholesterol. Be aware though that garlic is a natural blood thinner; so use caution if you have a bleeding disorder or are using pharmaceutical blood thinners.
Fresh raw garlic is truly low crap, self-packaged goodness.
These days a lot of people ask me what I think about the much talked about coming flu season that is predicted to disrupt society.
Almost daily I’m asked if I am going to be vaccinated against H1N1 or the seasonal flu.
More than daily I receive emails warning about some grand conspiracy purporting to use the flu vaccine to spread disease, not prevent it.
Let me start by telling you what I think about all the hype around H1N1. Its a flu. Some type of flu virus moves throughout communities every year … always has … probably always will. Some years are worse than others. These days our community is global, so there are a lot more people who could potentially be carriers of the virus.
Am I going to be vaccinated against H1N1 and/or the seasonal flu? No. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. I believe vaccinations are a personal decision based on personal circumstances and beliefs.
There are risks with any decision. Do your own research. Check in with your own inner knowing. And don’t let anyone bully you to get, or not get, any vaccine.
And please do me a favour. Once you have made your decision, don’t go around bullying other people to make the same decision you’ve made.
What about all those conspiracy theories that are floating around? In my opinion they are about as amusing as all the mainstream media hype. I don’t forward those emails.
Only time will tell if my beliefs, my immune system, my lifestyle choices and my efforts to reduce stress in my life, will protect me from this winter’s flu.
Whatever happens, I am fully committed to continuing my exploration of a low crap lifestyle, and will dedicate the next few weeks to talking about how a low crap diet can shore up your immune system and increase your chances of enjoying a comfortable, flu-free winter.
To get started check out these past posts:
Ten ways to clean up your diet
What’s so bad about junk food?
Carrot Ginger Garlic Soup
7+ servings of fresh produce … no fork required
Fresh Ginger Root Tea
I get a kick out of advertisements that claim their product contains ‘real’ food …
When a processed, packaged product boasts that one of its ingredients is ‘real’, you have to wonder what else the product contains.
I decided to investigate a breakfast cereal that brags about containing ‘real’ strawberries, and sure enough the product contains freeze dried strawberries … ingredient number 23 of a whopping 38 ingredients.
Other interesting things about this ingredient list is that the word ‘sugar’ shows up 4 times, and on closer examination I discovered that there are an additional 4 types of sugars (honey, molasses, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup) listed AND a chemical sugar (sucralose).
That’s 9 forms of sugar to go with those freeze-dried real strawberries!
Here is the complete ingredient list of the breakfast cereal I investigated. The numbers, indentations and colours are my additions.
1. Whole Grain Wheat
2. Wheat Bran
Berry Flavored Oat Cluster
4. Rolled Oats
6. Soybean Oil
10. Rolled Oats
Strawberry Flavored Apples
11. Dried Apples
12. Artificial Flavor
13. Citric Acid
14. Red #40
15. Sodium Sulfite
16. Corn Syrup
17. Brown Sugar
19. And Artificial Flavor
20. BHT [For Freshness]
21. Wheat Flour
22. High Fructose Corn Syrup
23. Freeze Dried Strawberries
25. Malt Flavoring
26. Natural And Artificial Flavors
27. Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
30. Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6)
31. Reduced Iron
32. Folic Acid
33. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
34. Vitamin A Palmitate
35. BHT (Preservative)
36. Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1)
37. Vitamin D
38. Vitamin B12
When I was finishing up my month long ‘buy no food in plastic’ experiment at the end of July, I decided it was time to take action against plastic food packaging.
Well that was a month ago and I have to confess that I am just now getting over the trauma of that experiment … seriously … I hadn’t realized how stressed I had become until the stress began to ease.
The week after the experiment ended I came down with a nasty summer cold. Some people told me I must have gotten sick as a result of coming in contact with plastic again after avoiding it (as much as possible) for 30 days.
While that’s a lovely romantic notion …and it may or may not be true … I would have to do bunch of double blind scientific studies to prove my friend’s theory that our “immune system deteriorates in direct proportion to the amount of plastic we come in contact with”.
No, I believe that the danger that plastic poses is more insidious than that in ways that we don’t understand and can’t yet imagine.
So right now you might be thinking that the first rule of a low crap diet is to avoid plastic at all costs … but that would be a silly rule and, as I have proven, unattainable.
Actually, the first rule of a low crap diet is to not stress about what and how you eat because stress has been proven beyond a doubt to lower immune function.
Notice I said not to “stress” about what and how you eat … you must take responsibility for your health and the health of our planet … just don’t get all stressed out and sick over it.
Here’s an ingenious way to turn trash into something useful. Guess where this beautiful pond is located?
Yup … this beautiful pond is in the trunk of an old car.
Last year this same neighbour grew a productive garden in the back of an old truck.
Contrary to what your mother might have told you, you do not have to eat meat every day to get enough protein in your diet. In fact there is plenty of protein in non-animal food products to keep you healthy… just ask any vegan and they will tell you it is possible to live meat free. For example 1 cup of walnuts has the same amount of protein as a chicken drumstick; and 1 cup of quiona has a little more protein than 1/4 pound of lean ground beef.*
But Meat Free Mondays isn’t asking us to all become vegan. It is simply asking us to cut our meat consumption by about 14% to help lessen the impact that we have on our environment … and that fits beautifully with the low crap diet.
This movement is growing quickly. A Google search for “meat free Monday” returns over 20 million hits. Even Sir Paul McCartney has, not surprisingly, joined the movement and if you visit supportMFM.org you can watch Sir Paul strumming his guitar and singing a little song to get everyone in the spirit: “Meat free Monday… It’s a fun day… And its happ’nin …All around the world.”
Making Mondays meat free makes a lot of sense. To learn more watch the video below, or click here to watch on You Tube.
*Nutrition Facts Source: Dunne, Lavon J., Nutritional Almanac Fifth Edition, 2002 McGraw-Hill
BYOB has taken on a whole new meaning.
My local organic store, Sunnyside Market, carries quite a few things in bulk … including dish soap. And they are quite delighted when you bring your own container … or in this case, bottle.
My last plastic bottle of dish soap had a big crack in it, so it had to go to recycling.
I went looking through my cupboards for a suitable replacement and discovered this cleaned out glass olive oil bottle.
I should tell you that I am a bit of a glass bottle hoarder … meaning I have a hard time sending any glass bottle to recycling if I think there is a remote possibility that it may one day come in handy.
I remember cleaning out this bottle and if you have ever tried to clean out an olive oil bottle you will understand my pain because it takes a lot of hot water and dish soap to get that bottle oil free. I remember asking myself if my efforts, along with the extra hot water and soap were worth it.
Today I was feeling kind of smug … yes my efforts were absolutely worth it.
The great thing about reusing an olive oil bottle is that it has a ‘spout’ attachment that slows down the speed that liquid pours out. This little feature makes it quite suitable for refilling with dish soap … and the bottle looks much prettier than plastic.
A British study on the nutritional value of organic foods was released yesterday. (source National Post: “No nutritional value added in organics: study.” Thur. July 31, 2009 http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=1842708)
The study concluded that “Organically produced foods have no more nutritional value than conventionally grown products and consumers who pay a premium for organic foods are doing so based on perception, not fact” [my emphasis]
Are they daft?
Do they think that people who purchase organic food are daft?
I purchase organic products because I care about my health and the health of my planet.
I purchase organic products because of what it doesn’t contain . I personally do not want to eat residue from pesticides such as:
- Iprodione*. A known carcinogen used in the conventional production of almonds, Iprodione is also a potential ground water contaminant and suspected endocrine disruptor.
- o-Phenylphenol*. A known carcinogen used in the conventional productions of apples, o-Phenylphenol is also a developmental or reproductive toxin and a suspected endocrine disruptor.
- Chlorothalonil*, a known carcinogen used in the conventional production of tomatoes, that also has the potential to be a ground water contaminant.
By purchasing organic products I support biodiversity, environmental stewardship, clean water, clean air, safe work environments for farm workers, preservation of heirloom plants, soil nutrition, small-scale family farms, ethical treatment of animals, sustainable agriculture and the list goes on.
Purchasing organic isn’t about better nutrition.
Purchasing organic is a non-selfish way of saying “I care.”