Sorry for the lack of posts last week. Blame The Mr’s travels, me subsequently having a hectic week, and the power being out for two hours because of a storm on the one night I had time to work on posts. But now, my fella is back in town, the power remains on, and all is right with the world.
So, I’m baffled. I can’t believe that I have lived in Charlotte and been a food blog reader for as long as I have and have only come across the blog 100 Days of Real Food in the last month! I seriously don’t know how on earth I’ve been missing it. Oh, well. Whatevs.
For those three other people in the world who haven’t read it but somehow read this blog, the 100 Days blog is about how a family of four completely cut processed food out of their life for 100 days and the subsequent dietary changes they maintained after the initial 100 days. I’ve found it to be really interesting…and eye opening. In fact, it got me wondering…how much processed food do The Mr and I really eat?
Initially, I was all “I buy 97% of our groceries at Trader Joe’s. We can’t be doing that badly, right?”
Before I can answer that question, I should clarify what Lisa from 100 Days outlined as “real food” for her family’s 100 day challenge. Pretty much real food is just what it sounds like. It’s food that either remains or is made from ingredients that have not been processed in any way. So, for Lisa’s 100 day challenge here were the terms:
What You CAN Eat:
1. Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.
2. Lots of fruit a vegetables (as many as possible from local farmers).
3. Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese.
4. 100% whole wheat and whole grains.
5. Seafood (preferably wild caught over farm-raised).
6. Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).
7. Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee and tea, wine, and beer. (WHEW!)
8. Snacks like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and popcorn.
9. All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates in moderation.
What you CAN NOT Eat:
1. No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat, not just wheat).
2. No refined sweeteners such a sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial things like Splenda.
3. Nothing out of a box, bag, can, bottle, or package that has more than five ingredients listed on the label.
4. No deep fried foods,
5. No “fast foods.”
So keeping those in mind, I started looking at the things in my refrigerator. Here’s what I found:
Exhibit A – My FAVORITE Tru-Moo Chocolate Milk (which I typically use for my late afternoon snack)
Daaammmnnn! I knew it was too good to be true that chocolate milk could be good for me. So how many “real food rules” have I broken with this one – 1) sugar as an added ingredient, 2) packaged product with more than 5 ingredients in it, and 3) cornstarch.
Exhibit B – The Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Links we eat with breakfast each morning.
This one didn’t surprise me much. Definitely counting more than 5 ingredients on the back of the package…two of them being added sugar and added salt.
Exhibit C – My FAVORITE Trader Joe’s Hazelnut non-dairy creamer that
I put in The Mr puts in my coffee each a.m.
You may ask yourself what exactly I thought “non-dairy creamer” entailed. Truth is, I didn’t think about it at all really. I just liked the hazelnut flavor and thought it would be healthier than say Coffee Mate you buy at main stream grocery stores, you know, since it comes from TJs. I’m betting that the fact “cane sugar” is listed as the second ingredient in it means it has a pretty hefty dose of it. Again I say – daaaammmnnn! (FYI, that should be pronounced with at least three syllables…)
Exhibit D – The Trader Joe’s Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausage I’ve been putting in my lunchtime quiche.
This one is sneaky. Conveniently lumped into the category of “seasoning” for this product are added salt and added sugar. Hey, at least TJs was honest about it. They could have easily left only the generic “seasoning” in the ingredients list and it would have met the “no packaged items with more than five ingredients rule.” But…they told the truth and I’m a believer that the truth will set you free. That’s true of many things, but in this case it’s free from added sugar and salt.
Clearly, not all is as it seems. For the most part, as long as we eat at home, we do pretty well with these things. But, as this little experiment illustrated, there are some hidden traps out there. And, truth be told, I talk a good game about eating local but when it comes to my weekly shopping, I opt for convenience. I can make a greater effort to get more of our meat, dairy, and produce from local farmers. We’re much better about drinking local than eating local. I need to learn to shake the hand that feeds me…not just the one that makes my beer.
On her blog, Lisa encourages readers to go for a 10-day real food challenge to open their eyes about the hidden processed foods they encounter. I don’t know that I’m ready to sign up for a full 100-day challenge, but I think 10 days might be a little too short for us, especially since we have a pretty good start. I mean, aside from my Tru-Moo habit, our snacks are mostly things like plain Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, cheese, and raw nuts. In ten days we could simply avoid eating out and make one run to the farmer’s market. That’s not enough to really start to impact our habits and the choices we make about our food.
So, The Mr and I have decided to put ourselves on a 30 day challenge to follow the rules listed above and only eat real food. We started yesterday and we’ve got two weeks to get into a rhythm before he has to go on a business trip. I can tell you right now, I’m already missing my hazelnut flavored coffee creamer…
I’m also thankful that beer and wine are the products of natural processes which put them in the list of “allowed” foods and beverages. Otherwise, no deal…or at least only maybe 98% deal.
Anyway, we’ve got one day down and 29 more to go. Who knows, as we approach the 30-day mark we might call an audible and decide to go the full 100. You never know! Wish us luck! We’ll keep you posted as to how we are doing!