During a cooking lesson last week, questions from my students—Is chocolate good for you? What kind of bread should we eat? Is butter bad for you?—got me thinking about a way to answer these questions, especially considering the minefield of choices we face every time we shop.
I like to think of every food item as a part of a spectrum for that food. Versions free of synthetic additives occupy the good end of the continuum, while highly processed foodstuffs reside on the dark side. In addition, many options lie within the two extremes.
Virtually every food in the supermarket can be viewed in this manner. Take butter, for example. Many popular commercial brands come from milk from cows that eat genetically modified and chemically-sprayed corn and have been injected with hormones and antibiotics. A little better are butters from hormone-free cows (but still corn-fed), while the optimal is a butter like Anchor, which uses milk from grass-fed cows not administered hormones and antibiotics
(Read the packages carefully; foods free of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and genetically modified crops are almost always identified as such.)
Safely navigating your way through these choices can be daunting, but don’t expect to overhaul your entire refrigerator in one day. The process takes time, but one change every week or two can lead to a marked improvement in how you and your family eat and feel.