Food Crimes: Something’s amiss at the Farmers’ Market

Farmers-marketI both love and hate the Farmers’ Markets.

I like the samples or, at least, I used to. Some time ago, I witnessed a man reach his fleshy hand in a bowl, dig out some cut up apricots with his fingers, and put the chunks of fruit in his mouth along with his fingers. Then he reached his slobbery hand into another bowl for the pluots.

Disgusting! I no longer partake of the cut up sample bowls.

THERE ARE TOOTHPICKS OFFERED FOR A REASON!

I saw one woman holding her dog while she squeezed peaches. She readjusted the dog, farmermputting her hands under his belly, then turned him over like a baby in her arms, and reached down to handle more peaches.

Kids regularly reach their little hands up onto tables, into bins, fingers in the sample bowls.

But, in all honesty, I have not been turned off from farmers’ markets – until possibly this weekend.

I picked up a lovely, healthy looking bunch of kale and put it in my sack. When I got home, I started to put it away and got a whiff of it. It stunk. It smelled like a dirty sponge. I washed it and let it dry. I tried again – mildewed sponge smell stuck to it. I washed it again and laid it to dry. This time the aroma of old bleach wafted from it’s thick leaves.

farmersmktUnwilling to take a chance and eat something that might make me sick (that’s what happen last week after my farmer’s market visit, I got sick. I didn’t then chalk it up to my farmers’ market finds, but now I’m wondering), I tossed it.

I’m not bothered by the loss of my few dollars, but more feeling betrayed by the farmer who tried to pass this off as fresh. I’m not sure what happened to turn the lovely kale into a dirty dishpan scented germ haven, but I do have the feeling the person on the other side of those leafy greens knew what he was selling.

It occurred to me that the farmers’ market is much like a buffet in a restaurant, minus the sneeze-guard. Yes, we’re going to be responsible and wash the food before we eat it, but is that going to be enough?

Beyond the numerous hands touching the produce, the unclean fingers lingering on the individual items, what about those – like I witnessed this weekend – who cough and actually sneeze near the food?

There’s no one checking on these open air food markets.farmermk

I’m certain many of the farmers are proud of their produce and wouldn’t allow infested products to line their tables; however, how many can afford to lose money by tossing away bins of forgotten water-logged or other problematic food?

I’m unclear how these farmers and their sales people can keep people from coughing, sneezing, molesting their fruits and veggies – I mean we are, in some sense, avoiding the supermarket system and trying to buy local – but how do we do this safely?

I imagine I could go back and talk to the guy who sold me that wretched kale, but what would that do? I have every faith he’d offer me a refund or replacement. But that’s not what I want. I want to feel this food is of a higher and safer quality than what I buy in the grocery store. I want to support the local farmers.

But I don’t want to get a staph infection from an avocado skin or the flu from a persimmon nor do I want to pick fleas off my peaches.

farmers mkt

 

Food Crimes: Don’t be Fake(d)

artifical1I tried a new drink; the front label boasted a vitamin drink. I didn’t take the time to read the ingredients. I was thirsting, it was cool and promised refreshing goodness. But, after drinking half the bottle, my stomach began to ache. I put it aside.

Later, when my daughter dropped by, I offered her the rest. (She’s worked in nutrition based stores since she was old enough to get a job – her major is public health). She said, did you read the ingredients?

I hadn’t. The front label had me convinced I was consuming a healthy beverage, but the ingredients listed three different types of fake sweeteners. I’m usually much better about reading labels, but sometimes we all forget and fall for the advertisement.

I’m not one who usually consumes anything with fake sweetener.

I’m a believer that our bodies are made to process what was put on this earth, not that which was created in a lab to fool our taste buds.

artificalPreviously, some of these artificial sweeteners had been linked to cancerous tumors in rats.

A new study shows that artificial sweeteners are toxic to our gut bacteria. Scientists are finding in more and more studies how important our guts are to our overall physical  and mental health.

I know someone, looking for an answer to their problems with anxiety, who was diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome. The doctor told her that it was the cause of many of her mental health problems as well as other physical problems she was experiencing. If a product is toxic to our stomachs, imagine what it can do if it gets into our blood and neurological systems.

Don’t be fake(d). Read the labels. Avoid lab food when natural alternatives are available.  Even then, use in moderation.

ArtificalSweetenersGraphic1

 

 

Food Crimes: Ohhh… Honey…… I like it raw…

That is, my preference for honey is unprocessed, unadulterated, and in other words raw.

honey

Raw honey appears opaque, thick, yellow. I feel like I’m getting the real thing. The thinner honey is questionable to me because many companies mix their honey with high fructose corn syrup and do not disclose it on the label.

I’m not sure how that happens, but it’s true. It’s true of other sweeteners as well; take honey1note agave lovers and brown syrup believers, your alternative all-natural sweetener may contain some Karo.

The secrets of honey are muddled in hives of misunderstandings, half truths, and changing laws.

Raw honey should be opaque and thick; it’s supposed to contain more enzymes which heat and processing destroys. However, it comes straight from the hive and will contain honeycomb, royal jelly, and possibly some bee parts. One article suggests any black spots may be a leg or joint – fun stuff!

honey2Manuka Honey, which sells for $20-$40 per 8oz is said to have significant antibiotic effects.

But honey, overall, says most articles, is not any healthier. The fructose in honey has the same effects on your body as any other sweetener.

 

 

Food Crimes: Inside Nutella

Did you know a woman sued Nutella and WON? nutella3.jpeg

She claimed Nutella falsely advertised the product as a healthy choice. She fed it to her child, believing in its healthy benefits.

I’m not fan of nutella or their advertising. I’ve seen the commercial in which a woman is spreading nutella on toast as an announcer says something to the effect, “get your children to eat breakfast again.”

Chocolate for breakfast?!  I’m in.  Uhm. Or not.

nutella1

My thought was always of the sugar and oil in the product and I’d never consider it something to feed my children for breakfast let alone a healthy alternative to anything.

Nutella claims it’s made with nuts. And it is.  They certainly have alluded to the fact that the product is healthy, but numerous companies are guilty of this type of advertising, and some are worse with their “lower sugar,” “fewer carbs,” “cautionbuyerbewarehigher protein” claims.

I’ve always considered food shopping like car shopping: Buyer Beware.

The company paid out 3 MILLION DOLLARS in the class action lawsuit.

It’s good that companies are held accountable, and more should be. But until that time, it really is buyer beware. READ LABELS!

We don’t need to deny ourselves something chocolate and nutty, we just need to make better choices. Here’s a few healthier versions of Nutella.

Homemade Nutella

Vegan Nutella

Better than Nutella

Let me know what you think!

ENJOY!