n January I attended an evening class on "stoveless cuisine" presented by Alexi Bracey — former personal chef to actor Wil Smith and possibly the Martha Stewart of the raw and organic food movement. (
See www.stovelesscuisine.com) The evening was a step in my personal journey to get off the industrial food gravy train and detoxify my body, which I’m chronicling in detail my online blog at www.hazmatmag.com
. Bracey taught us to prepare dishes from uncooked fruit and veggies, preserving nutrients destroyed by the temperatures in normal cooking.
Bracey’s teaches that raw and organic foods can taste as good or better than the processed and chemical-laden fare we usually eat. I can attest that the "pasta" dish she served — made from vegetables and pureed nuts — tasted like creamy fettuccini Alfredo with bacon bits! And don’t even get me started on the non-flour raspberry ganache chocolate cake…
That evening I learned much about the common mistakes people make when trying to eat healthier. I feel compelled to share this information with readers, because our government is definitely not protecting us. Given the rise in cancer, diabetes and other diseases where prevention is the best cure, what you don’t know really can kill you!
Here are some highlights from my recent learnings, to help you reduce the carcinogens and "obesegens" in the bodies of you and your family members.
Most people are aware of animal cruelty, growth hormones and antibiotics in products from the industrial meat production industry, so I won’t belabor the point that we should reduce meat in our diet. We should also eliminate nutritionally-bankrupt processed foods that may contain a vast array of artificial colors and flavors, processed grains, sugar, and (lots of) salt. These should be replaced by real foods that people ate in ancient times: fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds, and legumes. Buy organic, non-GM foods at health food stores and farmer’s markets.
We should also avoid anything with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), sugar or artificial sweeteners like aspartame (that increases sugar cravings). Agave is highly processed and contains high fructose. Look instead for dessert ingredients like e cinnamon, vanilla, and stevia. (Interestingly, the sugar industry is currently engaged in a legal tussle with the producers of HFCS, claiming the latter seeks to confuse HFCS in the minds of consumers with real sugar.)
Want to lose weight? Don’t just avoid fats: your body needs some healthy fats (in moderation) derived from nuts, seeds, coconut oil and avocados. The powerful dairy industry has taught us that we need milk, cheese, and yogurt for calcium and as a source of cultured probiotics. However, dairy consumption contributes to health problems, slows digestion and creates mucus in the body. We should instead seek calcium from dark leafy greens and sesame seeds, and cut back on acid-forming dairy and soft drinks.
An unfortunate side effect of the Neolithic revolution — which moved us from being hunter-gatherers to settled village dwellers — was that it ultimately set us on the path of filling our bellies with white rice, flour, and refined grains for which our metabolisms are poorly adapted. These break down quickly, have little nutritional value or fibre, and cause blood sugar spikes that lead to cravings, which boost obesity. Yet they are now the bulk of our diet. Grains such as wheat are difficult for humans to process because they contain gluten (to which many of us are allergic). We must supplant these with high-fibre super grains like millet or quinoa.
I already knew that colorful, natural vegetables contain high vitamin levels. But I was surprised to learn that soy is a trypsinogen and goitrogen-blocker that slows thyroid function and can block the full assimilation of proteins. It’s extremely mucus and acid-forming, and is often genetically modified. In place of tofu, soymilk, soybean oil, and other soy products, we should seek better vegetable sources of protein such as quinoa, nuts, and seeds.
I now buy canned tomatoes and tomato sauce only in glass jars, as the resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A and the acid in tomatoes can cause 50 mcg of BPA per litre to leach out. Another no-no is microwave popcorn. Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans and liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer in animal tests. Microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize into your popcorn.
Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t touch a non-organic potato, or serve one to my kids. Same goes for apples, farmed salmon and corn-fed beef.
I hope I haven’t depressed you! My goal is to inspire you to conduct your own research and move toward a healthier diet. In the next edition I’ll address alternatives to toxin-laced home and personal care products.
Guy Crittenden is editor of this magazine. Contact Guy at firstname.lastname@example.org