A little over a year ago, I completely overhauled what I was preparing for my family. I wasn't exactly grabbing fast food all the time, but I just realized that I needed to pay closer attention. No processed foods. Few foods from a box or can. I started reading labels, looking for high fructose corn syrup and MSG (which is sneakily listed under many different names, like "autolyzed yeast extract").
So, I buy some foods from a box, like bran flakes, crackers and whole wheat pasta. And I buy some from a can, like tomatoes and pasta sauce (but only pasta sauce whose first ingredient is "tomatoes" - it's a lot more expensive than Ragu, but why don't you take a look at their ingredient list). Just no cream of chicken soup casseroles.
Mostly, however, I buy seasonal and local. We have a wonderful local farmers market here in Franklin. I sometimes buy a box of pre-packed fruits and veggies from one of the stands, but mostly I just go every Saturday and buy what interests me. In addition to fruits and vegetables, there is milk from a local dairy (the boys love the chocolate milk), grass fed beef, real smoked bacon (almost all commercially produced bacon contains MSG), local eggs... on and on. In fact, I'm doing one better this summer... I'm growing (a few of) my own veggies and (lots of) my own herbs.
So when I heard about a book called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, I was intrigued. He has a list of 12 rules for eating and I just reading the list makes me totally want to read the book. His 12 rules basically match up completely with my own rules... I just never articulated them, and he seems to do it so well. Here's his list:
1. Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
2. Avoid foods containing ingredients you can’t pronounce.
3. Don’t eat anything that wouldn’t eventually rot.
4. Avoid food products that carry health claims.
5. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket; stay out of the middle.
6. Better yet, buy food somewhere else: the farmer’s market or CSA.
7. Pay more, eat less.
8. Eat a wide diversity of species.
9. Eat food from animals that eat grass.
10. Cook and, if you can, grow some of your own food.
11. Eat meals and eat them only at tables.
12. Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure.