“With all this rice containing arsenic talk, it just occurred to me that all the gluten free products are heavy on rice to substitute the wheat (rice bread, rice cereal, rice in the flour, rice in bars, etc.) I wonder if Celiac people should slow down on the gluten free products. But heck, meat has too many hormones, and fruit and veggies have too many pesticides. Is there anything safe for humans to eat anymore?”
The above Facebook status from my friend, Lori Edwards, makes an excellent point regarding the safety of our food. She has certainly inspired me to take a closer look at the food in my kitchen. As someone who needs to eat gluten free for health reasons, I’ve consumed much more rice and corn than I ever did before. Rice and corn are the typical ingredients used to swap out gluten (wheat, rye, and barley), and it keeps the cost lower so packaged gluten free products such as crackers, bread, and treats can be more affordable to both the producer and end consumer. Even without following a gluten free diet, consumption of rice and corn is more common than you may realize. Just because you might not serve brown rice and corn on the cob every night for dinner, doesn’t mean you’re not eating it in your cereal (Rice Chex, Rice Krispies, Special K, etc.), tortilla chips, taco shells, and baby food. Corn and rice is also commonly use as a filler in many “multigrain” crackers, breads, baked goods, and chips. It’s hard to feel safe in what we’re feeding our families when research continues to reveal the dangerous effects happening within the widespread practice of the genetically modified (GMO) food industry.
If you’re unfamiliar with the recent study about arsenic in rice, check out this article from Huffington Post, “Arsenic in Rice: How Does Toxic Element Get Inside Grain?” Another scary article about GMOs and corn, can be found here: GMO Study: Cancer From Corn. It’s very hard to read articles like this and feel confident about anything you put in your mouth. It’s also easy to take the skeptical approach and argue that we’ve been eating the same foods for years so why should it matter now. But, as I’ve recently learned, it matters now because agriculture has completely changed in just the last 25 years. It’s all about quantity and not quality. And if you think about it, “organic” didn’t even need to be a category of food previously because it was ALL organic.
I recently took a pledge (see earlier blog post) to purchase more organic fruits and vegetables from our local farm stand. I realize now I limited my thinking to produce, and neglected to think about the journey all the ingredients take in our prepared and packaged food before reaching our table. Even as I write this, I can hear my son crunching on some Goldfish crackers and I’m caught between thinking what am I feeding my son?! and I grew up on that delicious stuff.
I have been trying to stay more on the paleo side of gluten free lately, and not eat too many packaged foods. Whenever I’ve been “glutenized,” eating grain-free and clean for a week seems to resolve all symptoms and restore my body to a happier rhythm, but it’s very difficult to maintain that lifestyle 100% of the time. Also, the true paleo diet doesn’t allow dairy, and Lord knows I love me some Greek yogurt and cheese so I doubt I could ever be a pure convert. I’ve consciously been eating more organic fruits and veggies (NutriBullet helps!), and trying to eat more organic, grass fed meats, but the meat part is so difficult because it is so darn expensive. With the two articles I linked to above though, I’m beginning to realize the higher cost of organic food may be worth lowering my family’s chance at developing health problems related to pesticides, arsenic and other dangerous chemicals. I justify the cost of my gym membership as an investment in my family’s health, so why I have a difficult time using that explanation to pay more for organic I really can’t say at this time. (For more information on the paleo diet, please visit: http://everydaypaleo.com/faq/)
Realistically, I know we will never be an all-organic, eat-clean-only family. Convenience and budget are a major reason for that, but my taste buds play a roll too. It was difficult enough becoming gluten free, that I cherish the food I am left with. As with anything though, moderation is key. I will continue to eat organic for the dirty dozen, and have at least one grass-fed meat for dinner per week. I will even take my pledge a step further and try to designate one week per month as a grain-free week as well. Baby steps!
How has the recent research about arsenic and other toxins impacted your food choices?