Eating food is one of America’s greatest daily activities; one that the majority of people engage in, unless they are living under extenuating circumstances. Eating is done for necessity, for leisure, for recreation, and for celebrating.
Everyone loves to eat! (I know I do! )
Growing up, eating was one of my best qualities. I could eat any and everything. I would eat my food and then finish my sister’s. I would eat bread, rice, meat, grains, beans, peanut butter, fruit, vegetables, chips, candy… you name it and I ate it! It was all so good to me! I never seemed to have a problem with any kind of foods that I was eating. The only issue that I had was being a butter ball (super chubby), but that’s beside the point (LOL).
Over the years my palate has changed (THANK GOD). I have eliminated many of the processed foods, and meats. However, I still continue to consume grains, bread, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and some processed foods (vegetarian meat substitutes). Now, when I attempt to eat some of those same foods, my body can no longer tolerate it. I experience severe bloating and gas, stomach pains, and feelings of discomfort.
This has created a major problem for me, as eating had lost its savor! I decided to participate in an elimination diet, which consisted of cutting out one type of food per week to see if there was a reduction of symptoms. I’ve learned through that process that my body can no longer handle gluten, or nuts/ seeds in excess. This discovery has caused me to do away with breads, nuts, vegetarian meats, cakes…pretty much anything with gluten in it. This omission has been difficult for me and whenever I cheat—I pay the ultimate price of pain and my stomach being upset.
I am presently on a journey from Vegetarianism striving towards Veganism. This journey is a difficult one, and I have not yet mastered it. Nevertheless, I keep on pressing and striving to reach my goal.
In my quest to eat healthier, I’ve learned that all the foods we purchase from the stores are not all they are cracked up to be. Today we have to battle between natural foods and genetically modified foods (GMO), and between organic and inorganic foods.
The abbreviation of GMO is short terminology for Genetically Modified Organisms. Genetically modified organisms are plants, or animals that have alterations made to their genetic make-up. Foods that are genetically engineered have had their DNA altered. The modification in the DNA permits the introduction of new traits— to enhance greater control over the traits/characteristics of the food. Creating GMO allows for unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not happen naturally through traditional crossbreeding methods (Non-GMO project, 2016).
One of the rising concerns with GMO’s is with the insertion of genes into the DNA of a food plant. There is no real way to monitor or predict where the inserted genes actually end up. This can hinder the functionality of the already existing genes. This can also create new proteins that previously never existed, therefore causing a rise in toxins and food allergies.
Many of the foods we consume on a daily basis may fall under the GMO category.
Some of these foods are:
Yellow “crook neck” squash
According to research and studies, GMO foods are unhealthy for us. The research on GM foods in animals reveal organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Research on GM foods in humans also shows that they possibly cause long-term problems. Also studies have shown that the genes inserted into GM soy, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and as a result it is deemed unhealthy. Studies have also revealed that the toxic insecticides produced by GM corn were found in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses. (http://responsibletechnology.org/10-reasons-to-avoid-gmos/)
Organic vs. Non-organic
What’s the big deal between organic and non-organic foods?
Organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
Organic livestock are free range and fed with organic grains/foods. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal by-products. (https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm)
Non-organic foods are the opposite. They are grown using dangerous pesticides and chemicals that have long term effects on our bodies. Non-organic foods are sprayed with several chemicals, which include: fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides.
Non-organic livestock animals are pumped full of hormones, treated with antibiotics due to diseases, and are fed non-organic foods. They are also treated inhumanely.
This video will shed light on some of the horrible conditions of “non-organic ” animals and the harsh treatment that they endure: https://youtu.be/2w7TCmJUD7g
Eating organic foods have proven to be beneficial in many ways.
According to Help Guide:
- Organic foods have less pesticides.
- Organic food is often fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives
- Organic farming is better for the environment. This is a truism because organic farming seeks to minimize polluting the earth, conserving water, minimizing soil erosion, seeks to increase soil fertility, and overall uses less energy.
- Organic eating decreases diseases. Animals that are considered organic are NOT given antibiotics/growth hormones.
- Organic meats and milk are more nutrient dense.
- Organic food is GMO-free.
As my mind digested this large amount of information, all that I kept asking myself was, “How do I make this change? “
You may be asking yourself the same question.
It may not be feasible to just completely switch to organic foods, as I know firsthand that there is a financial component to this as well. The better the quality of food…the more it will cost us. It’s a true reality.
As I personally seek to live healthier, I have sacrificed to start buying better quality foods. I’m not 100% there yet, but as I transition, I am making clearer, conscious decisions about my food options, and paying more attention to whether it is non GMO and organic. I am sure that some of my stomach issues and bloating concerns are linked to the rise in GMO production and pesticide use in the last decade.
While it may not be feasible to go 100% organic— there is a list of specific fruits and vegetables that we should DEFINITELY buy organic as these foods have a high absorbency and are highly contaminated with chemicals and pesticides.
These are called the “Dirty dozen”:
Sweet bell peppers
Snap peas (imported)
Kale / Collard greens
There are also foods that are determined to have less chemicals sprayed on them and may be ok to consume even if they are non-organic. These are called the “Clean Fifteen“:
Sweet peas (frozen)
So…what’s the deal with my meal?
What’s the deal with your meal?
These are good questions that only we can personally answer.
As for myself, I am on a journey to lead a healthier life and to include my family as well.
This process will more than likely not happen overnight and therefore; we must take baby steps towards our purposed health goals.
I recommend taking some time to learn more about non-GMO foods, and organic foods. Knowledge is power. If you are able to start a garden… do it. That’s the best way to control your food to ensure that it’s non-GMO and organic. Also, farmer markets are a great place to buy fresh organic produce. Just be sure to validate with the vendors that their products are non-GMO and organic.
~ Candace Mezetin