Editor’s Note: A while back Adam Franklin of U-RAAW! offered to send me a box of custom-made energy bars. Once I learned that they were made with raw, quality ingredients, and from the city where I went to university, I had to try them. My custom bars had dates, sunflower butter, sprouted chia powder, clover honey, chocolate chips, vanilla extra and cacao. The fun part was, not only did the bars come in exactly the flavor I chose, I also got to name them too! They tasted amazing. The only problem I had with these real food bars was that they went a little too quickly once my son got his hands on them. Since my bars were nut-free, they made for a good treat to include with school lunhces. They were also a good substitute for homemade snacks when I didn’t have time to make my own. They’re so good that I wanted to help Adam spread the word about his biz, and I asked him a few questions about it, and his real food philosophy. Once you’ve read all about Adam and U-RAAW!, you’ll want to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post for a chance to win your own box of custom energy bars and more!
Learn More About Wellness through Real Food
Everyone knows that eating a home cooked meal prepared from fresh whole food ingredients is a lot more nutritious than eating fast food or a frozen TV dinner. But who has the time? How do you meal plan for a family? Eating healthy on a budget is made even more difficult by life’s everyday challenges – there’s figuring out what to eat everyday, buying the ingredients and then actually making it into food that your family wants to eat. With a little planning though, it is possible to prepare and eat nutritious foods for the majority of your meals!
Why do you want to meal plan? Meal planning makes it easier to get a handle on your food budget, reduce food waste and save time when you’re at your busiest.
If you’re looking to eat Real Food on a budget, one way to stretch your dollar is to minimize food waste!
In a perfect world, all our fruits and vegetables would be raised without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, yet be grown in abundant yields. Not only would this be better for the person eating this food (you!), it’s much better for the long-term health of those that grow our food.
But – and you know there had to be a ‘but’ because this isn’t a perfect world – organic produce costs more, so if you’re working within a food budget, you’ll want to know when it’s worth the extra cost to go organic.
The Environmental Working Group is an American watchdog organization that puts out a list of foods that you should be eating organic (aka The Dirty Dozen) (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/). When conventionally grown (non-organic), these fruits or vegetables have the highest pesticide contamination, so it’s worth spending the extra money to choose organic.
The EWG also has a clean list – 15 foods that they say are lowest in pesticide residue, and are safer to choose as conventional non-organic produce.
How do you remember which to choose though, when you’re at the market and not looking at this list?
When I was a student, I had mnemonics for everything. To this day, I can still list the transition metals in the periodic table because of one: Some TVs can MalFunction, Connie’s CouZin. (HUGE BONUS POINTS if you can name those elements based on my mnemonic!)
So, I tried to come up with a mnemonic for the Dirty Dozen, but the best I got was:
Awesome CodPieces Peel Spiffy Neurotic Goldfish Since Lumpy Cars Birth Puffy Gigantic-Blue Kumquats.
In other words, choose organic produce if you’re buying:
Apples Celery Peppers Peaches Strawberries Nectarines Grapes Spinach Lettuce Cucumbers Blueberries Potatoes Green-Beans Kale.
So if you like mnemonics, you’re welcome to use that one.
As I’ve gotten older (and wiser?), I’ve realized what works better than a mnemonic for learning something, is to know the reasons why. In the case of the ‘Dirty Dozen’, first off, you’ll notice that there are actually 14 different foods listed, and secondly, you’ll also notice that all of these fruits and vegetables have thin skins, or are consumed whole. Of the list, only apples and potatoes are typically peeled. So, if you do choose conventional apples and potatoes, make sure they’re peeled. With every other fruit or vegetable on the dirty list, it’s impossible to remove the outer skin or layer, you should be sure to thoroughly rinse your produce with tap water for at least 30 seconds. (Tap water is as effective as fruit & vegetable washes in removing pesticide residue, at least with nine of the dozen pesticides examined here: http://www.ct.gov/caes/cwp/view.asp?a=2815&q=376676). However, remember that washing only removes surface pesticides and not anything that has seeped below the skin, and certainly doesn’t address any problems caused by genetically modified crops.
What about the Clean 15?
Here’s the list for the Clean 15:
Onions corn pineapples avocado cabbage Sweet Peas Asparagus Mangoes Eggplant Kiwi Cantaloupe Sweet Potatoes Grapefruit Watermelon Mushrooms
Sorry, I have no mnemonic, this time. In this case, you’ll notice that most of these fruits and vegetables have thicker skins which you don’t consume (pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, grapefruit, melons). Again, even those these fruits and vegetables are on the ‘clean’ list, it’s best to wash them thoroughly to remove any surface residues.
A word about corn: While the EWC lists corn on its clean list, corn is one of the most genetically modified crops available. In the US 88% of all corn has been genetically modified (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margie-kelly/genetically-modified-food_b_2039455.html), while in Canada, at least 65% of all corn in 2008 was GMO ).
So while corn has low pesticide residue, there is a very good chance that the non-organic corn you consume is GMO, so it’s best to choose organic corn.
One way to eat locally and support your local real food producers is to join a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, a CSA is a farm-share where a farmer offers up a number of shares, subscriptions or memberships, which you pay for in advance.