I eat loads of processed foods, as well as foods that have been modified genetically. Before you say She’s mad! hear me out.
When I get talking about GMOs, I’m an unstoppable force. The whole thing makes me angry. I don’t mind the scientifically trying improving food, but I am strongly against taking away choice. Between taking over entire crops with these practically unstudied seeds and not labeling the foods that contain these crops, the consumer who doesn’t want to be a guinea pig is in for real trouble. I’ve spoken my peace about GMOs here, so I won’t go on an on.
Now, let’s pick on processed foods for a bit. Seriously, I understand wanting to save time. Whether you are a stay at home homesteader or a 9-5 working homesteader, we are busy people. Having said that, sodium filled hot dogs are not the answer unless you’re hosting a BBQ. They are not a dietary staple. Spam… well I’m not even going to go there. Spam lovers may send hate mail to [email protected] Natural, fresh foods are always the best choice for our day to day consumption.
Wait, weren’t you just saying you eat these foods? Well, yes and no. The problem lies in what these terms, GMOs and processed foods, mean to us. The semantics. They are bad words in our crunchy vocabularies. I say no to GMOs. I avoid all processed foods. Sound familiar?
What is a GMO?
We hear it all the time, so I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows that GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. In addition to 89% of the corn crops in the USA, my dog is genetically modified. No, I don’t have some weird, scientifically enhanced robot dog. I have a “hybrid” breed. What that means is that breeders (basically backyard scientists) crossbred dogs for generations to improve positive qualities and remove those undesirable traits. They changed the genetic model of this “breed” to create something new and better.
A few days ago, I shared this meme with my Facebook fans. The fans were quite vocal about the misuse of the term GMO when describing the Cornish Cross on the left. I will admit, I joined in with the fact that it wasn’t necessary to use the term GMO to get the point across. But would the Cornish Cross be considered genetically modified?
Like my pooch, the Cornish Cross is a hybrid meat bird. These birds were red jungle fowl bred so they had a genetic disposition for large breasts and the ability to convert food in large quantities. The gene for yellow skin was introduced by cross breeding with the gray jungle fowl. Over time, they were genetically modified to create the hefty broilers that we love to hate.
You see, genetic modification does not necessarily mean scientists wearing white clean suits and wielding syringes. Nature has been modifying genes all on its own. Are your eyes blue, green, or hazel? Hello, a genetic modification made by nature! All human beings use to have brown eyes (and dark skin) because of the proximity to the equator. The eyes needed to be protected from direct rays of the sun. As humans moved away from the equator, eye colors lightened. Not only did the need for dark eyes diminish, but lighter colored eyes were better able to adapt to the less direct light. That would be why there are so many light-skinned, blue-eyed Europeans. The genes modified for the conditions.
Instead of raging against GMOs, let’s use our energy to rage against being test subjects. Demand labeling. Know which foods are being modified. Rally for the farmer that doesn’t want GM crops and is losing his/her farm as a result.
How About Those Processed Foods?
This one is a no-brainer if you think about it, but people rarely do. What is a processed food? It is a food that has been deliberately changed before consumption. Blanching and freezing the green beans from your garden is processing them. Preparing and canning jellies and jams are processing the fruit. Dehydrating banana slices is processing them. Cooking food is processing it. Hmmm… kind of changes your view of processing, doesn’t it?
Food processing has been around since prehistoric times. No exaggeration! People have fermented, sun-dried, and preserved foods by smoking since forever ago. That does not happen to be what comes to mind when people hear the term processed foods. Our minds go to Kraft mac ‘n cheese and frozen Tony’s pizzas. It’s not surprising with the images floating around the web (see image above).
Do you know what is wrong with the foods in that picture? High levels of salts and sugars. Artificial ingredients like food dyes and flavor additives. The sheer quantity of food being deemed a serving. I mean, really, who needs to drink that much soda in one sitting? Moderation is key in all aspects of life. You can actually die from drinking too much water. Just “beverage” for thought.
Instead of raging against processed foods, process your own at home. If you are going to buy processed foods from the grocery store (there’s no shame in it), read your ingredients. There use to be a saying that if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. That’s good in theory, but there are some common ingredients that look frightening when listed on the back of a box. When in doubt, do your homework.
Don’t Hate the Words
In conclusion, don’t hate the terms GMO and processed. Awareness and being informed are how you stay healthy.