My grandparents grew up in a time and place when they knew exactly where their food came from: their own backyard. That kind of transparency seems almost unimaginable to me.
The carton of milk I buy might have been sourced from hundreds — or even thousands — of animals. The apples I carefully select tell me only the country or state in which they were grown. Even the fresh bread from my favorite local bakery is suspect; I know nothing about the flour, the seeds, or the hands that bring it to life. And I haven’t even gotten to processed food.
But let’s be honest: It’s pretty hard to avoid processed food entirely. Whether you’re talking about technicolored junk food or just canned veggies, it all contains additives that, at best, are unnecessary and, at worst, are downright harmful. Check out 11 common food additives many of us probably ingest quite often — and what they could mean for your health – in my new post on WiseBread.
Last year, I had the good fortune to visit Seattle and the World Spice Merchants shop. I liked it so much, I walked out with $100 worth of spices. Now, I know that sounds like a lot of money. Actually, that is a lot of money, but really good spices go a long way. That big bag of goodies will probably last for years. Plus, higher quality spices have way more flavor than the tasteless old powders that pass as spice in many grocery stores.
Besides age and quality, there’s another, more sinister, reason why your spices might have less flavor than you’d like — they’re fake. In fact, trickery is a big problem in the spice trade; the recently established Food Fraud Database has logged hundreds of instances of spices labeled as one thing and containing something else entirely. I took a look through this database to sort out which spices are most likely to be adulterated — and with what. Are any of these not-so-good, bad, and ugly things lurking in your spice cabinet? Find out in my new post on WiseBread.com.
Let me start by saying this — I like a big, fat steak as much the next omnivore. I like roasted chickens and sausages. And I really like bacon.
My wallet doesn’t love it quite so much, however.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meat makes up about 21% of the average American grocery budget, making it the most expensive category after processed foods. That suggests that many of us eat quite a lot of meat, and that it has a pretty significant effect on our bottom line.
Of course, most of us also know that adding more plants to our meals is good for our health. A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia in June found that those who followed a vegetarian diet were less likely to have heart disease, diabetes, and colorectal cancer. They were also less likely to be obese. In other words, money isn’t the only reason to consider cutting a down your meat consumption. How can adding a few vegetarian staples to your week cut your grocery bill? Find out in my new post on WiseBread.com.
Flickr/ralph and jenny
When it comes to wasting food, a little goes a long way. Throw out a few slices of bread here, some uneaten leftovers there, and before you know it, we’ve collectively thrown away millions of tons of food. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounted for 14% of all municipal waste in 2010. But in earlier points in history, food waste was a lot less common. In the Great Depression, for example, recipes got creative because food was just too scarce — and too expensive — to throw anything edible away.
These days, food is relatively cheap, at least historically speaking. Thanks to better agricultural, storage, and transport techniques, many Americans have access to all kinds of food at all times of the year at a price that costs them, on average, about 6% of their income. That’s a lower percentage than any other country in the world. Even so, wasting food is a bad habit, and not just because it’s bad karma when so many other people in the world are going without (although that’s worth thinking about). Think about it this way — every time you throw away food, you’re effectively tossing a few dollars in the trash. Fortunately, cooks around the world have created a number of great recipes to transform those lowly leftovers into something with culinary cachet. Check out some of the best examples in my new post on WiseBread.com: http://bit.ly/No0yWT