I haven’t really been doing much fun cooking lately, though today I will be attempting to recreate some sweet potato/black bean/caramelized onion quesadillas for my book club ladies. I figured I would share a few interesting and somewhat scary facts I’ve recently learned about food.
Hands off my bacon! Did you get wind of the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)’s conclusion that processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption? According to reports, consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products for the rest of their lives. Processed meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, sandwich meat, packaged ham, pepperoni, salami and virtually all red meat used in frozen prepared meals. The cause is a carcinogenic ingredient known as sodium nitrite which is used as a color fixer by meat companies to turn packaged meats a bright red color so they look fresh. Unfortunately, sodium nitrite also results in the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines in the human body. And this leads to a sharp increase in cancer risk for those who eat them. Just another reason to give some of the locally raised, grass fed meats at your local public market a try.
Do you know what’s in your yolk? According to Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, poultry hatchlings don’t have to eat or drink for the first forty-eight hours of their life. That’s where the yolk or food sac comes into play. The yolk of the egg is absorbed into the chick’s belly just before hatching, providing them with sustenance for their first few days of their lives. That’s why newborn poultry can be safely put into a box right after hatching and shipped anyplace they’ll reach within two days.
Where’s the produce? According to Kingsolver’s novel, modern U.S. consumers get to taste less than one percent of the vegetable varieties that were grown here a century ago. According to India crop ecologist Vandana Shiva, humans have eaten some 80,000 plant species in our history. Today, three-quarters of all human food comes from just eight species, with the field quickly narrowing down to genetically modified soy, corn and canola. And garden seed inventories show that while about 5,000 non-hybrid vegetables varieties were available from seed catalogs in 1981, the number in 1998 was down to 600. That’s because most vegetable varieties sold in stores have been bredd for uniform appearance, mechanized harvest, convenience of packing, and a tolerance for hard travel. The sacrifice for having year-round access to fruits and vegetables, even when they aren’t in season, comes from the flavor of the produce. Long distance travel is to blame. Responding to market demands, vegetable farmers gradually dropped thousands of flavorful varieties from their planting schedules, concentrating instead on the handful of varieties purchased by transporters, restaurant chains and processed-food manufacturers. And with that has gone the flavor and even some of the nutrients in the produce. So next time you pick up a perfectly shaped and consistently colored pinkish greenhouse-grown tomato, think about what you’re missing.
For more information about our food supply, finding local produce, and healthy recipes, visit www.AnimalVegetableMiracle.com.