(Check out One Green Planet for larger image)
I am not going to talk to you about nixing eating on the run; making sure you sit while you savor (and not in front of your computer) and chewing your food. While these are all things to consider, I am more concerned with you munching mindfully in a bit of a different way.
Not to be a downer, but if your edible packaged treat is compliments of one of the Big Food companies (see photo above), then chances are pretty good that your health is not their number one. That being said, some of these companies do have some incredibly decent brands (mosty because they “ate” smaller companies who were doing the right thing). For example, General Mills, notorious for Betty Crocker also owns two of my most favorite brands, Cascadian Farms (frozen fruits and vegetables) and Muir Glen (canned tomato products); and Kellogg Co., creators of Pop-Tarts owns the very decent organic Green & Black’s chocolate. Go figure!
Know this, when it comes to anything food, the system is like a web—it’s hard to find your way to “safe” ground! And even when you think you are headed in the right direction, you find out that your healthier choice is owned by a company that makes some serious junk often making you question the better brand your are buying. So, in a way, you may feel like you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. A very real feeling. Who Own’s Organic (click for a larger version of the table below) gives you a visual of the web and how Big Food co-mingles with the more “natural” and organic marketplace.
(By Dr. Phil Howard, associate professor of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies Program at Michigan State University)
According to Mark Kastel, co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, food industry acquisitions, big and small, are like a moving target so to keep your finger on the food pulse, check out cornucopia.org. And if you are hungry for more information on the politics of food, Marion Nestle’sFood Politics and Foodopoly by Wenonah Hauter will surely educate and churn your stomach at the same time!
A student once asked, “How do you eat knowing all that you know about food.” My answer, “In the end it is about knowing how to navigate with the ultimate focus being ingredients—what they are and where they come from.” While I like to shine the light on the issues facing the food system from how food is grown and raised to how it is processed and marketed (check out Anna Lappé’s Food MythBusters) my number one focus is meeting people where they are at with a little food education and hands-on help with eats.
I encourage you all towards edible enlightenment.