There are many types of foods and it seems as though real, whole foods are a dying breed... The following information elaborates about the different types of available foods, their definitions, and where those foods come from.
Whole foods are foods from the earth that have not been processed.
Organic food is grown and produced without the use of chemicals.
Sustainable farming uses methods that are friendly to our health.
It's no longer simple just to go to the market and shop for food. There are many different types of foods and at times it seems as though real, whole foods are a dying breed - which is all too disturbing when you consider the endless variety of processed foods available on the market as compared with real food that has no chemicals or preservatives, and the negative effects posed to health as a result of consumption of processed foods.
The following information elaborates about the different types of available foods, their definitions, and where those foods come from.
Click Image To Enlarge. At Times It Seems As Though Whole Foods Are A Dying Breed.
Whole foods are foods from the earth that have not been processed or refined (changed) in some way. Example - whole grains that you buy in bulk from the store are whole foods, cereal and crackers are not.
Whole foods are the foundations of wellness, and have been eaten for thousand and thousands of years by humans. Many modern health problems we have today are as a result of poor nutrition.
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Traditional foods are foods from nature that are eaten the way our ancestors ate them. It wasn't until the mid 1850's that people started to process and package foods in mass quantity, so people who are two or three generations behind us ate only traditional foods, and had never seen a package of prepared food in their lives.
As time went on, food changed more and more until a great deal of what you see in a grocery store is packaged or processed in some way. It's really only the edges of the grocery store where you will find whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables and fruits, nuts, and meats. Almost everything else is processed in some way.
Both whole and traditional foods typically come from farms. Many types of farms produce food, but the best types of farms from which to obtain any food would be from the organic and sustainable varieties, discussed in the sections below.
Click Image To Enlarge. Both Whole And Traditional Foods Typically Come From Farms.
Local foods are foods that are grown and produced in and around the area where you live. Local foods are often better for health than foods brought in from miles away.
You can find out how your food is grown much easier if the place you are buying it from is nearby - you can visit the farm and talk to the owners/managers about growing and production methods, and if you are purchasing meat you can find out whether animals are raised humanely and fed naturally.
Click Image To Enlarge. Local Foods Are Often Better For Health Than Foods Brought In From Miles Away.
Because local foods travel less distance to get to your table, fewer resources (like gasoline) are used. Local food is generally sustainable.
Although not all local food is produced in a healthful manner, it is really important to know about where your food comes from and how it is raised. Many farms and companies produce food that is unhealthy, so if you are able to learn about where and how your food is produced, you can make educated choices about what you eat.
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Organic food is grown and produced without the use of chemicals, pesticides, and is not genetically modified. Genetic changes in commercial foods are made by scientists to make the foods easier to grow and keep them from being susceptible to disease and illness, but eating foods that have been modified can be harmful to your health.
That's why organic is better, and studies have shown that organic foods contain higher levels of nutrients - vitamins and minerals - that are important for health.
Organic food is grown in a manner that is in keeping with methods friendly both to health and the environment. Farms that want to grow organic foods must be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture before they can label their foods as "organic".
Processed foods are any food that is not in the condition which it would come from in nature. Most conventionally-grown and raised foods would fall into this category (although some are more processed than others) simply because they have unnatural chemicals, pesticides, and toxins added to them for the purposes of packaging and preservation.
Ultimately, processed foods have a longer shelf life which allows the companies producing and distributing them a higher profit margin on those items than if they were not altered in some way. Processing allows storage and consumption of the food for an extended time after it is produced.
Click Image To Enlarge. Processed Foods Are Any Food That Is Not In The Condition Which It Would Come From In Nature.
Although factory and conventional farms (discussed below) do not produce what most people would traditionally consider to be processed foods, the foods grown and raised in factory farm environments are not healthy foods.
Therefore they technically fall into the processed category because they are not naturally grown or produced, have a variety of chemicals and toxins added in, and farming methods used to produce food in factory farm environments damage health and the environment - they differ vastly from that produced in most organic and sustainable farm environments.
On the other side of the spectrum, many organic foods are turned into processed foods because companies have tapped into a market of creating organic "convenience" foods which are packaged and processed, and consumers have responded by purchasing these products because they are told by these companies that these foods are healthy to consume, when in fact many of them are no longer healthy, whole foods at all.
As an example, let's look at packaged "organic" cereals. Those foods are just as processed as their conventional counterparts - they may contain organic ingredients, but those ingredients have undergone changes and are transformed from their former healthy state into baked, formed chunks of grains that have various substances added to them - sugar, corn, soy, processed dairy, roasted nuts, vegetable oils like cottonseed, canola, or soybean oil, and others.
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What remains is a food high in carbohydrate content and probably calories, low in protein, and contains components which cause several dysfunctions in the body such as a proliferation of Omega 6's.
These foods do not usually contain Omega 3's - essential fatty acids which are critical for health, but are grossly out of balance and are responsible for contributing to many diseases we are plagued with in developed nations.
Click Image To Enlarge. Processed Foods Are Responsible For Contributing To Many Diseases We Are Plagued With In Developed Nations.
Factory And Conventional Farms
Many animals that are raised for food for people in the U.S. such as cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys, don't live outdoors. They seldom see the sun, don't feel grass underneath their feet, or play chase with their friends.
They live in pens and cages in huge buildings called "factory farms". There are no windows in factory farms, so animals raised there have never seen a cloud, a tree or a flower.
Click Image To Enlarge. Many Animals That Are Raised For Food For People In The U.S. Don't Live Outdoors.
All these animals know about the world is how the steel bars of their cages taste, how it feels to lay or stand on concrete floors and wire cages, and how it feels to be locked in a cage so small that they can hardly move.
Factory farms are also dirty and crowded, which makes it easy for diseases to spread. Because of unsanitary, crowded conditions which are filled with disease, farmers must administer antibiotics to animals.
The antibiotics in meat eaten by people cause our bodies to harbor bacteria that in turn become resistant to medications. Approximately 78 percent of antibiotic use in our country is done in factory farm environments.
When you eat meat, dairy, or eggs from a factory farm environment, you can harm your health because the unnatural conditions of these operations affect the quality of your food - meats, dairy products, and eggs are full of antibiotics, chemicals, hormones, and the animals are given feed that is unnatural for them to consume (grains, corn, soy) - and ultimately, your health.
Click Image To Enlarge. The Antibiotics In Meat Cause Our Bodies To Harbor Bacteria That Become Resistant To Medications.
Factory farms also harm the environment by the methods used for production and farming. Pollution and waste created in the factory farm environment enter our ecosystems - soil, water, and air, and make our world a more toxic place to live.
Sustainable agriculture refers to those farms which produce indefinite amounts of food without incurring irreversible damage to the ecosystem or human health. Focus is on environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities.
Sustainable farming generally uses farming methods that are friendly to our health, the animal or plant's health, and the environment - so generally the practices used by farmers include no pesticides or chemicals, no hormones or antibiotics, and nothing that would otherwise unnaturally change the end food product you will be eating.
Click Image To Enlarge. Sustainable Farming Generally Uses Farming Methods That Are Friendly To Our Health.
Sustainable farming generally uses much less or does not use fossil fuels (gas) for transporting and growing and producing fertilizers and pesticides.
Meats, dairy products, and eggs produced from animals and birds that are able to roam about, eat grass and insects and worms are the best for health. These healthy foods contain the correct amounts of protein and fat, and low amounts of carbohydrates for health.