Tonight I am hosting a dinner party/going away party/baby shower for my dear friend Verlee Fines-Daily, who is leaving me and moving far, far away to take a new job in another state. Isn’t she so pretty?
I’m so very sad and don’t know how she could do this to me, especially since she is pregnant with her first baby and I am destined to be that child’s favorite aunt. Can’t so much be the favorite aunt from across the country, Verlee.
Verlee is a Maternal Fetal Specialist (high-risk OB-GYN). I tell you this only so that, if nothing else, you will know I have brilliant friends.
I will be preparing three different lasagnas (veggie, meat&cheese; and pesto asparagus!), Italian tossed salad, bread with dipping oil, fresh fruit and the yummiest chocolate cake ever. There is nothing “fitness” about this menu. Therefore, we shall declare this my “free day.” In fact, I declare a Free Day for the entire world! Why? Because I’m Fitness Friday Girl, that’s why.
Anyhoo (I heard on the radio the other day that people who say “anyhoo” are nerds), in honor of my day in the kitchen, I’m posting a rerun. This post originally ran on March 26, 2009. I happen to like this post a lot. But what do I know? I’m just a nerd with brillian friends.
Just to let you know, I’m typing this post while also watching the American Idol results show. So if I happen to randomly mention Motown lyrics every now and again, please forgive me.
Now, as you know, there Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to Keep Me From Gettin’ healthy food. The problem is, all kinds of food claim to be healthy. Like Sugar Pie Honey Bunch , for example. It doesn’t sound very healthy, but what if the Sugar Pie Honey Bunch happens to be “organic?” Then would it be healthy? What if it’s “all natural”? Or “grain-fed” and “pasture-raised” Sugar Pie Honey Bunch?
Or how ’bout this: What if the makers of Sugar Pie Honey Bunch decided it wanted to tell everyone it’s organic, but it really wasn’t? How would a Sugar Pie Honey Bunch consumer know the truth about it’s origin?
Are you in a Ball of Confusion? I Second That Emotion. But, once again, I, Fitness Friday Girl, am here to clear things up for you. I want to help you decipher fact from Superstition when choosing your food. So, without further delay, Let’s Get it On.
By the way, I didn’t make this information up. And I didn’t know it off the top of my head. I Heard it Through the Grapevine on a website called Food 411.
Don’t confuse “natural” with “organic.” Products labeled “organic” require auditing & have a certification seal; whereas the term “natural” is not regulated at all. The USDA guidelines for “natural” state: “A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color that is only minimally processed may be labeled ‘natural.’ The label must explain the use of the term (i.e. no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed).” Natural products should have no artificial preservatives, chemical additives artificial sweeteners or no hydrogenated oils . But you must read ingredients for yourself. For example, high fructose corn syrup, a highly processed ingredient and unnatural ingredient is sometimes used in products labeled “natural” because it is derived from corn!
Animals that were raised in pastures, rather than in factory farms.
Animals that were raised eating grass in pastures rather than other feed such as corn or animal products. According to the American Grass Fed Association, Grass- Fed Products are:”Better for the animals…eating (in the pasture, not feed lots) what nature intended, Better for the environment…harmony between the land and the animals Better for farmers/ranchers…living and working in a healthy sustainable atmosphere, Better food…grass-fed foods are lower in saturated fats and higher in essential nutrients“.
Food products legally certified in the United States as adhering to organic standards set down by law (detailed explanation below).
A movement that seeks to go beyond what it considers the United States’ inadequate organic standards.
The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weed killers, organic farmers conduct sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay.
The National organic program rules prohibit the use of conventional pesticides, petroleum- or sewage-sludge-based fertilizers, bioengineering or ionizing radiation and synthetic substances. Foods certified as organic must be produced using growing methods that minimize soil erosion and that maintain or enhance the fertility of the soil. Organic farms need to prove that these materials have not been used for at least 3 years.
Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones, must be fed organic feed and have access to the outdoors. Before a product can be labeled “organic”, an inspector visits the farm where the food is produced to make sure the farm meets USDA standards.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a national seal to assure consumers that foods bearing the seal are certified organic following USDA standards. Foods certified as at least 95% organic – (produced without most pesticides, toxic fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics) – will carry the official “USDA organic” seal.
Foods are labeled in 1 of 4 categories:
1. 100 Percent Organic – may carry USDA Organic Seal
2. Organic – at least 95% of content is organic by weight (excluding water and salt) and may carry the USDA Organic Seal.
3. Made With Organic – at least 70% of content is organic and the front product panel may display the phrase “Made with Organic” followed by up to three specific ingredients. (May not display new USDA Organic seal)
4. Less than 70 % of content is organic and may list only those ingredients that are organic on the ingredient panel with no mention of organic on the front panel. (May not display new USDA Organic seal)
To find reasonably priced organics, You Better Shop Around. And quite frankly, I Ain’t to Proud to Beg my local grocer to carry more organics. If they want to Keep Me Hangin’ On, then they need to carry what I want to buy, right? I mean, you carry healthy food at a great price, and I’ll Be There, you know what I’m sayin’?
But Whole Foods Market…Ooooh Baby, Baby. They are the Sunshine of My Life. My happy place, as far as grocery stores go. I know they can be pricey, but their “365” brand tastes fabulous and is competitively priced. And the best part? Everything in the store (every single item) must meet their high standard of quality:
“We don’t have a specific standard for products labeled as “natural.” Instead, we require that all of our food products, regardless of the claim they’re making on the label, meet our quality standards, which prohibit artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, hydrogenated fats and other artificial ingredients. In other words, our quality standards, which apply to all the food we sell, are our definition of natural.”
So the next time you head out to the store, don’t be confused by the labels. You may forget all the specifics of the definitions posted here, and that’s OK. Just remember, the closer a food is to its original form, the better it is for you. In even simpler terms: eat plants. I’m not kidding. You can’t go wrong eating lots of plants. Because when it comes to healthy food that will nourish your gorgeous God-given body, there Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby.