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Eating healthy is harder than you think

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POSTED: March 5, 2014 10:00 p.m.
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With all the information there is out there it's difficult to tell what is actually healthy for you.

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My wife, kids, mama and a mess of doctors have strongly suggested that I try to eat healthy. But eating healthy is harder than most folks think.
So-called “healthy” information seems deliberately confusing. There’s more to it than simply eating less of this and more of that. There are dangerous things in some foods that are far worse for me than those causing me to gain a few pounds.
Organic foods only make sense, even though their prices can be outrageous. Fear of pesticides is not unwarranted. I don’t care if I weigh a trillion times more than the bugs pesticides eradicate. A little bit of poison can go a long way.
If we eat enough pesticide-laden foods, it’s going to take its toll.
When I was a high-school freshman, I wrote an essay for my general-science teacher in which I suggested the foods we’re eating might be causing health problems people didn’t have a century ago. I noted there were those who compared the average life expectancy a century ago to what it was in 1969. They said, “We’re living longer, so everything’s OK.”
No, it’s not OK.
As I predicted, there are more people with more types of cancers than 100 years ago. Yeah, the spoilers now say these cancers always have been around and were, perhaps, the causes of the higher mortality rates back then.
My teacher didn’t think so. She agreed with my cancer theory and my assertion regarding the increased number of kids born with autism or immune deficiencies. Heart attacks and strokes are more common, and they’re hitting folks at much earlier ages, I told her. I didn’t know my words would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Back then, I was (and still am) a conspiracy buff. I’m equally suspicious of big government and big business until I know the facts. Facts, though, are not always that easy to find.
Last year, I was told by a local farmer at the Hinesville Farmer’s Market that we only need to buy organic fruits and veggies if we actually eat the produce skin. Fruits like bananas, for example, don’t have to be organic. Ditto for corn and garden peas. I’ve learned through a number of online sources that bell peppers, grapes and greens are among those fruits and veggies you definitely want to buy organic.
They don’t tell you that at the supermarket. They want you to buy it just because it says it’s organic.
I laugh when I think about the term “free range” regarding livestock that’s supposed to be better for you because they roam free and aren’t shut up in cages or pens.
Those of us who hunt know that free-roaming wild turkeys and wild hogs are tasty but not as safe to eat as the penned-up domestic variety. Tom Turkey’s meat can be tough, and an old boar hog is best used as a wall trophy, not barbecue. Wild hogs often carry diseases too.
If I see it plainly written on the label, I won’t buy meats or dairy products made from animals injected with growth hormones and antibiotics. I don’t have a problem with a sick critter being treated with something to restore it to health, but I don’t want to eat a steak or pork chop laced with antibiotics.
Even before the above concerns, there were concerns about food dyes and preservatives in processed foods. Some food dyes are killers, so much so the Food and Drug Administration banned a bunch of them. Blue, red and yellow dyes are major culprits. Even though the FDA has banned their use in the United States, a lot of our processed foods now come from China.
Do you think the FDA inspects imports from China?
The same thing can be said of preservatives. Did you know breads used to go stale in two days? Something is keeping breads and processed meats fresh-looking for weeks — but is it safe, really?
If a study compared meats preserved with smoke and salt with those saturated with the stuff they’re putting in our hams and bacon today, the actual results might not get published. There’d be a risk of harming a giant food-processing corporation, and that would affect contributions to politicians or a government-oversight agency.
Maybe pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, food dyes and preservatives are causing an increase in the number of conspiracy buffs.

Email Murray at rmurray@coastalcourier.com.

 

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