How clean is the food we eat?
What does it mean to eat clean food? Does this mean the dirt and bugs have been washed off before it has been put out for sale? Is this food that has been given a "Saturday" bath? To me, clean food refers to the lack of things put in or on food through processing.
My definition of clean food is food that is free of artificial preservatives, MSG, artificial coloring, artificial flavors, synthetic pesticides, fungicides, ripening agents and partially hydrogenated oils — in other words, food that is in its natural state.
Here is a quick guide to eating clean food:
• Only eat foods with ingredients you can pronounce.
• Eat foods with fewer than six ingredients.
• Eat foods that have a limited shelf life — this means no preservatives.
• Eat foods where sugar is not in the first three ingredients.
• East foods with fiber to satiate you and leave you with a sense of being full.
• If possible, eat organic tree fruits, organic leafy greens and organic berries to avoid pesticide residues.
• Eat what is in season.
The following is a list of "dirty dozen" foods from The Daily Green, "a consumer's guide to green from GoodHousekeeping.com," which have the highest known pesticide residues. Some of these foods have had up to 60 different types of pesticide residue detected on them.
Sweet bell peppers
Kale and collard greens
It's not always possible or realistic to eat a clean diet all of the time. However, try to limit the amount of processed foods in your diet. This is a sure-fire method toward eating a clean, pure, natural diet.
Remember, food in its natural state really doesn't need anything added to it. Many natural foods markets pride themselves in selling only clean foods. Walking through the door, this takes a lot of unhealthy options off the table and makes reading labels easier and shopping more fun. Next time you go shopping, think about what was put on or in your food on its way to your mouth.
Kevin Cotter is managing general partner at New Earth Market in Yuba City.