Wednesday, May 23, 2012

There should be dirt on your food!

From the Laundry Basket of the Homegrown Mama

I will never forget having friends over for supper several years ago, proudly picking tender lettuce leaves from my garden to serve and then watching the look of abject horror come over the wife's face when she saw the dirt on the ends.  I was truly not aware that people though lettuce was always as dirt free as it is in those puffed up salad mixes at the grocery.  For the record, I did wash the lettuce and toss it into a fantastic salad with homemade dressing, none of which was eaten by our guests because they "tasted dirt".

The only time in my life that I can remember not having a garden (complete with dirty food) was in college.  Now, I realize that not everyone actually understands where our food comes from, especially when it's packaged so attractively in our grocery stores, but it's really something people deserve to know!  I also realize I'm kind of preaching to choir by telling you vegetables start out dirty, but perhaps your mother-in-law doesn't get it yet.  Maybe your baby brother equates all natural foods with the strange TPV chili you ate during an ill-fated attempt at a vegetarian meal in the 80s.  Or perhaps, your neighbor who doesn't understand why you would want to spend weeks nurturing your tomatoes before harvest when you can just grab a bunch still on the vine, at Walmart.

For people in your life that you need to convince, here are a few talking points to refresh the argument for REAL foods!

  • Tomatoes are harvested unripe and then doused in ethylene gas to give them that glorious pop of color in your salad.
  • Cornell University pulished a study stating that force-ripened produce is less nutritious than ripe-harvested crops.
  • The wrappers on those "clean" veggies in the supermarket are often sprayed with fungicides/bactericides to prolong shelf life.
  • By the way, veggies that are grown on vines, stalks and other types of greenery shouldn't be subjected to cold storage... it turns their beautiful, naturally sweet sugars into flavorless and mealy starches.
  • No chicken should have to lose it's beak because the stress of being in a commercial production row could cause it to peck it's neighbor to death, thereby leading to the poor victim to be rendered and ultimately turned into additional "nutrition" for it's housemates or the cattle
  • Avoid irradated meat. It degrades that quality of meat, provides a false sense of security since it doesn't actually eliminate all pathogens, the results in nuclear waste and oh... the long-term effects on your health isn't fully know yet.
  • Avoid highly colored yogurt. It shouldn't be a purple and green swirl.
  • You want eggs that are from chickens that have met the grass and visit it often. These eggs are high in beta-carotene and have brightly colored yolks. 
  • When it comes to convenience foods, just don't buy them if you can avoid it. You are never going to get the "real thing" and that pretty package is filled with the cheapest food parts and loads of unnecessary dyes, chemical, preservatives and other yuck that you don't' need.
  • Also, note that the greatest majority of ingredients are made from corn or soybean products. Buying these "foods" only gives Monsanto a stronger hold on the farming industry. In increase in a demand for these products causes Monsanto to up their production and slowly continue to edge out the local farmers who don't want to use their seeds or cannot afford the high cost. 
In our society of pasteurized, sanitized, perfectly shiny grocery store displays it can be a shock for some to realize the actual origin of food.  If you are just now learning, glad to have you joining us at the farm markets and local butchers.  If you are trying to teach others, keep it up!  Someday, you might be able to teach them the joy of eating lettuce straight from the garden... even if there's a little bit of dirt!

** bullet points taken from notes I wrote out while reading The Real Food Revival


Eco Yogini said...

ew- i had no idea that the plastic wrapping veggies (which is ridiculous all by itself) could be sprayed with pesticides and fungicides... blegh.

i will admit, not having grown up with a garden, it was definitely an adjustment to see worms and bugs on my veggies from the market. i am a bit of a paranoid lettuce leaf (and veggie) washer now because of it haha.

Sarah said...

I've always said veggies taste better with some dirt on them. I'm the person who goes out and grazes on the garden (especially now that we have peas!!) no need to wash.

Laura said...

Eco Yogini: I am a very paranoid washer myself, completely because I know what hangs out in those healthy greens!

Sarah: I can't enough of green beans straight from the garden, personally!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

I'm actually pleased rather than put off when I find tiny insects on my food. To me this signifies that the plant has not been sprayed with poisons. My kids love to eat dirt! They'd probably eat more veggies if they had a little dirt on them -- one more reason I need a garden.

Martha said...

I eat garden fresh veggies almost exclusively and I'm always a little surprised when people don't wash their veggies.

I'm a paranoid washer too but apparently I'm the minority. One of my coworkers (who gets her veggies from the grocery) never washes anything. Yuck. I think if it doesn't come directly from the garden, it needs to be washed twice as much!

Laura said...

Martha: this is an incredibly true point.

Betsy: oh dirt... it's so appealing to children!


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