There seems to be a never-ending debate going on these days. Everything is “Green” nowadays. Green movements, green cars, green programs, all in order to protect ourselves and our planet. In the food industry, this has caused a shift towards local, seasonal ingredients, as well as all organic ingredients. No preservatives, no artificial flavors, no harmful chemicals, etc. Just food the way it was meant to be enjoyed. That’s good, believe me. The seasonality movement in food is a really good thing, because it encourages healthy cooking and healthy eating. But, be forewarned, be careful what you wish for.
What do I mean? Well, I’m saying that, while there are harmful food additives out in the market these days, there are good ones as well. As my chef said last block, “It’s absolutely impossible to do EVERYTHING from scratch.” In an ever-changing industry like the food industry, you’re going to need help, no matter who you are. So, don’t shun all additives or chemicals. Just keep your eyes open!
For example, do you know what Bromated Flour is? It refers to flour that has been enriched with Potassium Bromate. It “bleaches” the flour, making it easier to work with and extremely durable once it is baked. The major problem? It’s a KNOWN Carcinogen. And here’s the kicker folks: the United States is the only remaining country who HAS NOT outlawed Bromated Flour. Sure, it’s harmful effects are neutralized once it’s cooked, but what about the people who have to work with it in its raw state? Cases of lung cancer in bakeries and/or production plants have skyrocketed in recent years. So, if you’re going to do any baking at home or work with flour in any way, keep a sharp eye on the labeling. If it says “Bromated Flour,” STAY AWAY.
In regards to the so-labeled “evil” preservatives and other food chemicals, yes, many of them are indeed harmful, but at the same time, needed to keep food longer. If we outlaw preservatives altogether, then foods can’t last as long. Again, to avoid illness within your home, keep a sharp eye out and read the labels of food items you purchase. If the ingredient list contains words that you need a dictionary and/or science textbook to decipher, then stay away. Furthermore, if the Sodium content of the package exceeds the daily allowance, then you may want to avoid it. Make sure you always drink an amount of water greater than the amount of sodium that you ingested. That way, your body will retain a good, healthy balance.
There are good manufactured food products out there, believe you me. My Baking Techniques chef actually praised Pillsbury for their Croissants and Biscuits. I’m being dead serious. As far as food and produce purveyors are concerned, it always pays to find a good, reputable source that sells high quality product. Whole Foods is a big thing on campus among chefs and students alike. It does exactly what their name implies: sell, good, wholesome and healthy food products. If there’s no Whole Foods near you, take some time to talk to the people who work at your local food purveyor. It pays to pick their minds about the food you’re buying.
Remember: know where your food comes from and above all: READ. Knowledge is a great weapon to have. Know what you put in your bodies and you’ll be better off for it.