I wandered the aisles of my local grocery store today to see the latest ploys of our lovely food companies. I’m always captivated by the endless options for salad dressings, marinades, sauces and such. It’s shocking to see the number of health claims on the packages of processed foods. And to see the number of “organic” companies selling junk food.
It’s difficult to live a busy life and not be tempted by all these packaged “kitchen assistants” that sound not just tasty, but healthy. For example, Annie’s Organic dressings and marinades look healthy and fresh. ‘Good for you. Good for the earth,’ it actually says. But turn that bottle around. The first ingredient is often sugar or a low-quality oil. Not so healthy. Food companies are not truly concerned about your health. In order for them to stay competitive, they need to keep their prices low. Which means they need to keep their costs low. Which means they revert to using cheap ingredients, not the 100% extra virgin olive oil that you would be using if you made your own dressing. Also, many organic products still contain preservatives and other icky substances like xanthan gum. Not so tasty.
Anything that saves us time and makes life easier is worth it. But these products are not making life easier in the end. Processed foods make us tired and cranky and leave us hungry for nutrition. Real nutrition. A jar of pasta sauce might save you an extra 15 minutes in the kitchen, but you’re missing out on a chance to rev your immune system with fresh veggies and garlic. The result? You end up catching a cold which sets you back a couple of days.
The best way to make the shift to a whole foods diet is to shop at your local farmers market. When that’s not an option and the grocery store beckons, try to buy predominantly from the outer circle of the store. This is where real food hangs out. Whole foods that take effort to prepare, but are so worth it in the end.
Check out my recipe for a homemade miso garlic ginger marinade featured on summertomato.com. And before you reach for that bottled salad dressing read how easy it is to make your own dressing.