This is one of the last “real food” mini-pledges before we reach our goal of 100 days! I did save some of the more difficult pledges for last, but I thought I would be nice and squeeze in an easy one near the end as well. At least I hope this one is easy for those of you who are reading a blog about eating real food!
So here is next week’s mini-pledge, which starts on Monday:
Mini-Pledge Week 13: Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors.
One of the problems with the products of food science is that, as Joan Gussow has pointed out, they lie to your body; their artificial colors and flavors and synthetic sweeteners and novel fats confound the senses we rely on to assess new foods and prepare our bodies to deal with them. Foods that lie leave us with little choice but to eat by the number, consulting labels rather than our senses.
Another issue with artificial foods is that, just like other highly processed foods, they’re relatively new and therefore we don’t know exactly how their consumption affects the body long term. Remember how margarine was touted as a healthy alternative to butter when decades later we learned the dangers of hydrogenated oils?
This mini-pledge reminds me that I’ve been wanting to share the difference between “natural” and “organic” food products. Packaging and labels can be so darn confusing these days! When a product says it is “natural” it just means that the ingredients come from something naturally created like a plant or an animal. If a product weren’t “natural” it could contain artificial ingredients like Red Dye #40 that’s chemically created or “invented” by food scientists in a lab somewhere. Sound appetizing yet? “Organic” food is a whole different story and refers to products that have not been treated with synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides, which is of course a very good thing.
Just for the record, whether you are buying food that is “all natural” or “organic” it does not mean those products are whole grain, low in sodium, or lacking loads of sweeteners like sugar. To put things in perspective, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is actually a “natural” ingredient since it is made from corn. Now if given the choice I would much rather consume HFCS over an artificially created sweetener like Splenda, but it is obviously still less than ideal. With that being said, natural products are a far better choice than artificial ones although we would by no means automatically deem them as being “real food.”
So I am hoping this pledge won’t be too difficult because we aren’t asking you to go full force with “real food,” but instead to just avoid the items that are basically fake. And hopefully this week-long experience will be eye opening for you as far as how many products contain these fake, artificial additives. Even most cough syrups, children’s Tylenol products, and throat lozenges contain artificial ingredients! So be on the lookout next week and avoid all additives that were “invented” within the last century and instead stick to those trustworthy ingredients that our ancestors have survived on for thousands of years!
To take the pledge: Please leave a comment below with the number of adults and children in your household that will participate, and also share if you will do it for one meal, one day, or for the entire week. Put it in writing and make it official!