Know your food
Have you ever given any thought to what’s in your food? When we eat meat we are ingesting far more than just the simple animal proteins we may be expecting. Our meat is affected in so many ways; how it is raised, what it is fed, how it was treated. As the old adage goes, we are what we eat and knowing more about our food helps us make better choices!
The next time you take a bite of a hamburger, you might want to ask yourself: Do you know where the cow came from? On what farm it was raised? Was it an industrial farm? Was it a sustainable farm? Was it an organic farm? What food was it fed? Were there any hormones or antibiotics pumped into the cow during its lifespan? Was it raised in a stressful environment? Did it roam around in a field or was it confined all day long?
All animals are affected by how they eat, how they move, and even their moods. It is now generally accepted that farm raised animals that are allowed to move freely and fed a natural diet similar to what the animal would eat in the wild are far healthier. Science shows that animals that are raised in unnatural industrial farms and feedlots with restricted movement and that are fed an abundance of toxic, fattening foods, result in incredibly stressful environments that create sick animals. Consumable product that comes from sick animals makes for sick people, regardless of whether or not they taste good or are “enhanced” with BBQ sauces, seasonings, etc.
Livestock and poultry often receive hormones and antibiotics for various reasons besides illness, including speeding up growth of the animals, and preventing disease while allowing the animals to be kept in unhealthy crowded spaces. Using antibiotics this way can result in the breeding of “superbugs” — bacteria that have evolved to resist the antibiotics being used. The bacteria can be found on and in the animal and, during slaughter, these superbugs can then enter the food chain. Ultimately, the evolved bacterium ends up in our kitchens or in our guts. If these resistant bacteria cause illness, it may be more difficult to find a working antibiotic for treatment.
On the other hand, organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides: fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.
While at a restaurant, here are some questions you might consider asking your food server to help you choose the healthiest of choices!! Its your time to take ownership of what you ingest.
Where is the food sourced?
What food options have been previously frozen?
What is the freshest entrée on the menu?
Is this made in-house?
Are these foods organic?
What kind of oil and butter do you use?
How are these fruits and vegetables cleaned?
A good rule to remember: do not just put food in your mouth because it tastes good. When putting food in our mouths, always keep in mind the importance of knowing that it is what your body needs to feel good. Knowing the source of where your food comes from can help you navigate what to eat. You have control to put clean food in your body. Be empowered and keep yourself constantly educated to make the choices that are best for you and your body!
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Ryann Morris is passionate about food and nutrition. She strives to inspire others to be more mindful of food and the effects it has on their bodies. She is a graduate of both the Ayurvedic Nutrition And Culinary Training (ANACT) program at Bhagavat Life and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) where she was certified as a holistic health coach.