Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Making Mealtime Safe: Knowing our Food

Maybe you've noticed a theme in my posts lately ~ meals? :)  Well, the Lord has been placing burdens on my heart and resources in my path regarding not only what we do during mealtimes but equally as important what we eat.

I've been trying to incorporate healthier choices into our meals for years now, but often times, any meal preparation or planning has also had various convenience or budgetary factors at play. We've been baking less, trying to cut sugars, eating out less, and so on. But the Lord has opened my eyes to some very important dangers I never even knew about. I had no idea the hidden dangers of genetically modified foods. Sure I had heard of GMOs but never really knew exactly what they were or what the risks were of eating them. After all, our government has allowed these foods into our food supply without notifying us or putting it on the labels as such, so it MUST be safe right? Hmmmm...the jury is still out, as I understand no human studies have been done to prove they are safe.

I feel it's my duty to feed my family nutritious meals. After some extremely eye-opening warnings were put in my path, I now realize we have a ways to go. At present, I feel very compelled to research, study, pray, and then do something about the food that we are consuming as led.

Little by little, our eyes have been opened to what it is we are eating. This year we started a small garden. Not only have we reaped a small harvest from it, but it was in preparing and managing the garden that it prompted me to want to learn about foods in the U.S. in general. I started learning about pesticides and chemicals and have begun doing my best to avoid them. I've learned about health dangers of high fructose corn syrup and how many things contain it! I recently learned about health benefits of using coconut and olive oils, and, at the same time, I learned about the dangers of other oils (vegetable/soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil). Last summer, I started looking into food co-ops or local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture farms). Over this summer, I started watching DVDs and reading books from the library on various foods. But most recently, I've been learning about GMOs (genetically modified organisms). I've seen this subject on various blogs, read excerpts about it here and there, but recently a physician who attends our church recommended a very well researched and produced documentary for us to watch on the subject. In one word, wow. I was clueless.

Instead of taking this on in a negative manner (it has been very discouraging, angering, and frightening to some extent), we are making this a family quest! We want to read labels and books and arm ourselves with knowledge, so we can know our food better. We want to be able to go to the grocery store or restaurant and know the right questions to ask or what to look for. I'm planning to type up worksheets that we will be taking to stores to research and price shop and find the best prices for pure/real foods. I'm busy researching the internet for local farms and CSAs. I'm busy asking people that already know about these things where they get their food. I've learned that even digging into one resource or asking one knowledgeable person opens up a world of contacts and resources to make this challenge more feasible. From peanut butter with soybean oil to pancake syrup with high fructose corn syrup, we are attempting with much prayer to cut out harmful foods and replace them with nutritious ones.

For anyone else wanting to learn more about GMOs or where you can buy foods without them, here are a few sources:
{I have no affiliate links here. These are the sources I've just been learning from and looking into!}
  • Non-GMO Shopping Guide ~ I'm just now learning from this to guide us in our search for natural food.
  •  Institute for Responsible Technology ~ This website states it is the "the most comprehensive source of GMO health risk information on the web." I just signed up for their email newsletter and am beginning to explore their website. They also are the providers of the shopping guide above.
  • Local Harvest ~ A website which allows you to search out organic farmers, grocers, and providers by location.
  • Tropical Traditions ~ I've seen lots of blogs talking about their coconut oil, but they also sell organic foods and have information and recipes.
  • Frontier Co-op ~ A natural products co-op. I believe you can purchase things right online, but there are also coordinators spread throughout the U.S. that have bulk buying groups. A dear friend at our church happens to be a coordinator, so I'm currently looking into ordering through her at reduced prices.
Well, I'm certain there are many more sources of information and many more suppliers out there. I'm currently going to check our local farmers' market, our local grocers, our local Aldi (heard they were selling select organic items), our local Trader Joes, and anywhere I can find that will sell locally grown natural products. A little bit of research has gone a long way. I feel one of the most important battles has been conquered ~ educating ourselves and just knowing that this battle exists! Who knew?

Give me your feedback! What have you learned about GMOs? What resources do you know of to educate us in this journey to natural eating and learning more? Please share any resources or suppliers you recommend in the comments! THANKS!

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."  ~John 8:32


Tracey said...

I, too, try to learn as much as I can about feeding my family healthy foods. The only oils I use are olive oil and coconut oil and I only buy real maple syrup (which, as you know, is quite pricey!) I avoid products with high fructose corn syrup as much as possible.

I try to balance purchasing healthy foods with what I can manage in the budget. For example, the only organic fruits/vegetables I buy on a regular basis is carrots. (I eat a lot of them raw think they taste sweeter than those that are conventionally grown.) Otherwise, unless I can get a good deal, I just buy regular produce because the organic is so much more expensive. Yet I'd rather have my children eat a "convential" apple than a processed snack food.

So interesting that you posted this as I'm planning on doing a post on "eating to the glory of God" next week. :) I hope you'll continue to share what you learn!

Mary Ann said...

I don't know too much about GMO's yet other than they are bad! I plan to look at the links you provided--thanks!

We don't do all organic/GMO-free yet due to availability and budget restraints. I've found the Dirty Dozen/ Clean 15 lists for what produce to buy organic quite helpful. We have been blessed to have a local family farm that raises grass-fed beef and pastured pork; they also sell free-range chickens from a family member. So a one-stop meat shop! I fill in the gaps with meat from Trader Joe's (not perfect but a step up) and a little from the grocery store. I'm inspired to grow more of our fruits and veggies, although that will take time and work! Also, we eat a lot of eggs and I haven't found a dependable local source for them yet so I still buy most of ours at Aldi. Have been thinking about having our own chickens; my husband isn't on board with that idea yet! Ha!

You might check out Azure Standard; they are a co-op that specializes in organic and natural products at reasonable prices. There may be a route near you. They don't come this far South yet,but they are in some areas of the Midwest.

Also the Heavenly Homemakers site has lots of yummy healthy real-family recipes as well as deal alerts for natural products around the web.

We love coconut oil! I usually get mine from Trader Joe's but noticed on my last trip that Sam's Club carries it now at a good price.

Debbie said...

I've been trying to incorporate more veggies and fruits in my life and am learning the benefits and not so good benefits of certain foods.. there is a lot to learn but sounds like we both are making a start.. thanks for you post!

*carrie* said...


As you know, I am interested in nutrition, but I also get easily overwhelmed when thinking about this topic.

As a baby step, I would be interested to learn more about how you use coconut oil.

Regina said...

Hi Katie, I was so glad to read your post. Hopefully, more and more will begin to see the dangers in GMO's and make changes. I'm one of the lucky ones that get to raise our food. While it's not perfect, we are trying to make as many good choices as possible and share what we have learned with others.

Thank you for a great post! Keep researching but don't get discouraged. Even growing a little of our food is better than having to buy. And it can be a great learning experience for kiddos.