Tuesday, October 18, 2011

0 You are what you eat and what you eat, eats too...

Commercial egg vs Free range egg
Whether this statement sounds confusing to you or not, it is a true statement – and especially important today. It's always been generally accepted that you are what you eat – the nutrients, vitamins, fats, sugars, etc. that you eat make you physically the way you are. Well, the same goes for the meat, milk grain, fruits and vegetables that you consume – if they get poor nutrients then when you consume them you consume poor nutrients.

It's a proven fact that chickens that are fed grain instead of greens, grasses and worms produce eggs that are lower in nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, and that cows that aren't fed grass and that are given low doses of antibiotics produce milk with discernible levels of antibiotics and a lower vitamin content. You can see the difference if you compare factory farmed egg yolks to eggs from chickens that were pasture raised – the yolks of the pastured eggs are significantly darker, almost orange in color.   And they taste so much better!

Soil that is artificially fertilized with chemicals is not as nutrient rich as soil that is fertilized with manure and compost, thereby producing plants that have less nutrients. In fact, the USDA has been keeping track of vitamin content in 43 different crops since the 1950's and have tracked a decline in nutrient content. Vitamin C has declined 20%, iron by 15%, riboflavin by 38% and calcium by 16%. So, for example, to get the same amount of iron that was in a 1940's apple, you would need to eat 3 apples today.

Why does our food have less nutrients today, even the “whole” non-processed foods? Because of factory farming methods in place today. Farms today feed animals grains instead of plants, because animals grow faster and produce more milk and eggs on a high-energy diet of grain. But some animals, such as cows, are ruminants and can't digest grains well so they are given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick on their feed. When animals grow too quickly and are given nutrient poor foods, they aren't as nutritious to us.

The same goes for the soils that grow our plants, soils that are chemically fertilized grow plants faster, giving them less time to accumulate nutrients. Also, because the plants are given easy access to nutrients, they develop shallow root systems, giving them less access to soil minerals. Biologically active soil also has a wider range of nutrients, and mycorrhizae, a soil fungus that trades plants minerals for sugar in their root systems.

So not only do you want to cut out processed foods, which have less nutritional value than whole foods, but you want to eat meat, milk, eggs and produce from farms that don't feed animals grains and use chemical fertilizers. Grow your own fruits and vegetables if you can, buy from your local farmers, farmers markets or organic from the supermarkets (if you can afford it).

I know it's getting late in the season for cucumbers, but I had promised to give this recipe to a reader, who was counting Weight Watcher points. I'm pretty sure you can eat as much of this as you want to, if I use rice vinegar then I usually don't add the sugar at all.

Pickled Cucumbers
2 medium size cucumbers, sliced thin (peeled if you want to, I usually don't)
1-2 Tbl salt
½ small onion, sliced thin
¼ tsp parsley
¼ cup vinegar (apple cider, wine or rice – they each add a different flavor to the dish)
¼ tsp sugar

Put sliced cucumbers into a large bowl, sprinkle layers with salt. Put another bowl on top, put a weight of some kind in the second bowl (I usually use a pot of water), let sit for an hour, drain liquid, rinse, drain again. Get as much water out of them as possible. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve cold. Serves 4

Nutritional Data for Pickled Cucumbers
Calories – 30
Total Fat – 0 g
Cholesterol – 0 g
Sodium – 28 mg
Total Carbohydrates – 7 g
     Dietary Fibers – 1 g
     Sugar – 3 g
Protein – 1 g
Vitamin A – 3%
Vitamin C – 8%
Calcium – 3%
Iron – 3%

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