Friday, August 6, 2010

Are There Things I Just Shouldn't Eat? Take 2

Yesterday I discussed my food priorities. Today I discuss what I am going to do with stuff that doesn't fall on the list.In food, with my rules, there is 'white food', 'gray food' and 'black food'.

White food is easy-it is pure, local, organic and healthful. Done. Some of my food falls into this category.

Most of what I eat falls into the 'gray' category. But even there, some foods are more 'off white' while some are 'charcoal grey'. In the 'off white' category I would say that it is pure (read whole or minimally processed), local and healthful but not 100% organic. Or maybe it is pure, healthful and organic, but it comes from the West Coast. You see what I mean? I still feel great about food that meets three of the 4 rules.

'Charcoal gray' food is a food that meets maybe only one or two of the 4 rules. Maybe it is locally made cherry pie, local but conventional and not really healthful and maybe it even has white flour (!!!!!), more on that later. I try to limit these. A splurge to keep up the spirits is fine, but more than once or twice a month and it's a habit, not a splurge.

There are a couple of foods that have been like question marks, falling smack dab in the middle. They are white flour (I am not talking about enriched flour here, that's a whole different ballgame), refined sugar and juice. These things are technically processed foods. I consider any food that has been taken out of it's original whole food context to be processed. But these foods are pretty straightforward with one or two steps of processing. Adding synthetic vitamins, preservatives or non food chemicals is not what I am talking about. In their most basic state white flour, sugar and juice are not evil franken foods. But they don't offer a lot in the way of nutrition. So I am limiting those. But for the sake of saying 'what gets eliminated', I am trying to focus more on items that are more industrial in nature. I am not going to eliminate white flour, sugar and juice for the sake of this blog, but I will limit them for the sake of my family's health. (Especially refined sugar which is not good at all, I like to replace it where I can with natural sugars, but it is everywhere and I would like to enjoy my life, so I will not sweat a little sugar)

And then there is 'black' food. Food that meets none of the rules is automatically off the list. First off, if it meets none of the rules, then it must break the first rule that food be food! And the whole point of this blog is non-processed foods. So even though I never eat them, I will now officially commit to ditching Coke, Diet Coke, other sodas, Cheese puffs and other snack foods that include charming ingredients like powdered cheese, American cheese, traditional hot dogs, chemical additives like MSG and Splenda, high-fructose corn syrup, conventional frozen processed french fries, conventional tater tots (my first true love), chicken nuggets, power bars and protein powders, margarine and shortening.. And there have got to be others. Tell me what I missed! What else is a 'black' food to you?

Our diets are varied. And truth be told, while I am a card carrying Michael Pollan soldier, I am equally as much a soldier in James Beard's war against boring fare. The kitchen needs passion and color and excitement and fat. At least 4 people emailed me off the blog about my posting about salmon covered in cream last week. Now you know why I don't blog about my baby spinach salads, just about the raspberry dressing. Food is and should be sensory. I don't just want to reduce food to it's nutritional nuts and bolts. I don't want to eat something that is high in omega-3's because it is the right thing to do, I want to eat it because it is delicious and makes me happy! I also want my blog and my recipe's to feel accessible to other people, like encouragement to do the healthy right thing! I really want to eat healthy, delicious food. And I do believe that it can be both.

Defining the rules this week has helped me to plan out the 'second trimester' of my non-processed foods project. In order to challenge myself down the road I have got to be specific about my short term goals. I place a heavy importance on homemade items, but I know not everything can be made from scratch. Or maybe I just haven't figured out how just yet-wink, wink.


  1. What about seltzer?

  2. That is actually an interesting question. Let me look it up and get back to you. I know it is free of calories, but I am not sure HOW EXACTLY it is made.

  3. seltzer can simply be carbonated water (ty- joseph priestly), which means only CO2 has been added to give it the bubbles (i dont know if the small amount of carbonic acid produced has any negative health effects or not, it is a very small amount so not likely)...many seltzer companies add different types of salts and and other products to change the flavor....bottom line is that true plain seltzer more or less has the same effects as good old water...

  4. Anonymous #2, You are correct. After looking into this and checking at the grocery store, seltzer is simply carbonated water. However Club Soda does have some salts added sometimes to mimic the taste of homemade soda water (or so Wikipedia told me). I found this to be true when I checked several bottles at the grocery store this morning.
    I have heard something about the carbonic acid having a detrimental effect on teeth enamal. But i have read nothing definitive.