BEFORE there was “fresh milk” sitting on supermarket shelves in cartons, fish being canned, or the existence of meatballs, squid balls and crabsticks, people were getting their milk and meat fresh from the sources. However, as time passes, change is inevitable — change in environment, lifestyle and ways of sourcing and producing things.
Humans are born with the intuition to keep innovating, to progress, to keep moving forward. And as a result, industrialization and urbanization became inevitable components of life. Gone are the days when the milkman would deliver real fresh milk from door to door, when organic fresh eggs were picked from chicken coops in backyards, and when fish were freshly caught from their natural habitats. Unfortunately, the norm these days is processed cheese, mushed up packaged meat, synthetic meat and seafood that are “frankensteins” of what we’re really supposed to be eating.
So, these days, how do you know what’s “real” and what you need to choose in the markets to get the best deal for your health’s sake?
This sequel to the previous article on Super Food Finds in the Market will now be covering the bulk of (the bill of) our groceries and diets… proteins — meat, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs!
Dairy, Meat and Poultry
Dairy, which includes cheese and milk, is common in everyone’s diet and grocery list. Unfortunately, most Filipinos buy processed cheese, which is actually a frankenstein cheese made from regular cheese that has been processed along with additional ingredients that we can’t even pronounce.
It’s also ironic how packaged milk on supermarket shelves are labeled “fresh milk.” Do you really believe that? Well, yes, those milk may have come from cows but it is definitely not fresh if it stays on the shelf longer than a day. Because, the truth is, anything fresh and organic will definitely spoil faster than processed items. And that’s one of the main reasons people look at “healthy, organic” food as inconvenient. It doesn’t complement the busy or hectic lifestyle of people these days, but really, can we compromise our health when we only have one body in this life and use it to make a living?
With cows and other common livestock being fed grains or formulated pellets and pumped with antibiotics because of the harsh living conditions they are placed in, any product from these animals would contain these toxic substances as well. Drinking “fresh milk” or even eating cheese that comes from animals fed this way is actually getting a dose of the antibiotics, too. Imagine feeding your kids that.
So, then, the “health” world has come up with shelf-stable non-dairy milk alternatives to counter the controversial dairy that we have these days. But, even the nut milks that you find in health stores are still added with unnecessary sweeteners and emulsifiers. Hence, to be sure, we should just go back to the basics and make our own milk. I would encourage you to make your own nut milks at home, like almond milk, hazelnut milk, and even cashew milk. You can easily find recipes online for homemade nut milks. Give it a try sometime!
Besides, milk doesn’t have to be our main source of calcium and protein. We can actually get enough calcium from dark leafy green vegetables and small fish such as sardines and anchovies if we include them in our diets regularly. I’m not encouraging vegetarianism, just saying that we don’t have to rely solely on cow’s milk for calcium and protein needs.
For cheese, on the other hand, supporting local products is the way to go. Grab some kesong puti, our own fresh cheese made from carabao milk, or make your own ricotta cheese from fresh milk if you can find a source/supplier. Go for soft, fresh cheeses instead of the hard, aged ones.
As with eggs, it is advisable to choose organic, free-range eggs. This means, eggs that came from organically fed and grown chicken, and free-range, meaning from chicken that have had the liberty to roam around in their natural habitat. Remember, whatever the chicken is fed with will come out in their products as well.
With the growing scarcity and greater demands of fish, farming of fish has become part of the industry. However, what many people don’t know is that these types of fish contain lower levels of essential fatty acids (omega-3), or the fat that we need. They contain more omega-6 fatty acids. When there is an imbalance in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, from omega-6 fatty acid levels being higher than omega-3s, it causes inflammation in the body which contributes to the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Farmed fish are also fed with antibiotics and treated with pesticides, which become concentrated in their fat and can cause cancer as well as other disorders in the body. You can read more about the dangers of farmed fish on draxe.com
So, remember, choose your produce and food items wisely! Always make well-informed decisions. Know what you are buying. Do not be so naïve to just believe in labels. Go beyond labels and always read ingredients list.
Better yet, shop in local markets for locally produced food items and try to prepare your own meals as much as possible. It’s more economical in the long run and will be the best investment you’ve ever made.