My kitchen is about 95% clean.
No, I’m not talking about the standards of hygiene or the crud that tries to take up residence in the grout – I’m talking about the contents of my pantry and refrigerator. Whole, clean food that isn’t processed is a major factor in getting well and staying well.
I’ve worked hard to banish GMOs, pesticides, and chemical additives from the premises. With the proliferation of “dirty” food-like substances that fill the grocery stores, it can be a challenge to build a clean food supply, especially on a tight budget. Since we’ve just moved and are in the process of rebuilding our stores, I’m determined not to let the dirty stuff sneak back in.
What is “clean” food?
This is the food that we are naturally intended to eat, food that our bodies can process and turn into energy and muscle – nutrients we can use to provide us with glowing health – fuel that doesn’t make us fat.
Dirty food, on the other hand, is loaded with things that your body was not designed to process: chemical additives to change the color or texture, preservatives to inhibit mold and kill off bacteria, modified genes, altered sugars, added hormones, and neurotoxins. The lists of ingredients on processed foods read more like a chemistry textbook than a compilation of edible items.
Just because you can eat something and it doesn’t kill you immediately doesn’t mean you should.
A huge portion of the items available at your local Piggly Wiggly or Shop-n-Save just aren’t fit to eat anymore.
Here are a few of the things that clean food does not contain.
Neurotoxins: Our society is becoming dumber by the day, as they kill off brain cells, literally kill them, with the neurotoxins present in a bag of Doritos and a Diet Coke. (And this effect is even worse when certain additives are combined with others.) Neurotoxins are things like artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose) and MSG.
HFCS: People are becoming fatter as they chow down on items loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup only to become hungry again a scant amount of time later as their bodies desperately seek satiation since HFCS doesn’t trigger the production of insulin and leptin (the hormones that make you feel full).
GMOs: I’m sure Monsanto’s internet troll army will find something to say about anything negative I write about genetically modified foods, but the problems are many, including:
- There hasn’t been enough long-term testing to be assured they are safe
- The rapidity and brutality with which dissent is silenced
- The farming methods used with GMOs means far more pesticides are applied to the plants, and in some, the pesticide is engineered right into it.
Hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy: We avoid any meat or dairy products in which the animal was raise on antibiotics or given hormones for faster production.
Undigestible chemistry project additives: I don’t want things laden with preservatives to make them last longer additives that make them taste or look more appetizing. (And good food doesn’t need to have the flavor enhanced!)
The very best way to clean your kitchen is to only eat food cooked from scratch.
You may feel pretty good about the clean and healthy foods stored in your freezer and pantry. While the contents of your cupboards are probably healthier than those of many North Americans, there may still be a lot of sneaky culprits lurking there.
Personally, I discovered this a few years ago when I did a “Scratch Challenge.” For one month, I made absolutely everything from scratch. So, no seasoning mixes, no crackers, no tortillas, no pasta – nothing that came ready to eat. If I purchased an item, it was a single ingredient, not a ready-made component. Initially, I thought the exercise would be a piece of cake. After all, I baked healthy goodies
Initially, I thought the exercise would be a piece of cake. After all, I baked healthy goodies for my daughter’s lunch box a couple of times per week. I didn’t use any of the “just add hamburger” boxed meals. I already cooked from scratch!
My eyes became opened quickly on Day 1, when I was scrounging around the kitchen looking for breakfast. My usual breakfast of peanut butter on either toast or crackers, along with a piece of fruit, wasn’t going to happen, because a) I hadn’t made bread and b) the crackers weren’t from scratch. I ended up cobbling together a big bowl of scrambled eggs with assorted veggies, eaten sans toast, out of a bowl.
Over the course of the experiment, of course, things improved. I made bread, soft tortillas, nacho chips, salsa, pizza sauce, noodles, and many more items that I had formerly grabbed right from the cupboard. I realized that even in a fairly clean kitchen, there lurked a fair amount of potential for chemical bombs.
Here’s a quick list of things that may have breached your clean food supply:
- Cottage cheese
- Hard cheese
- Seasoning or spice mixes
This doesn’t mean that you can absolutely never eat a premade food again. It just means you have to be very careful to find things with only pronounceable ingredients that you can easily visualize. These things are available at a cost. Often the best and most affordable option is just making your own.
I challenge you to clean your own kitchen. You will be amazed at the increase in your health if you can kick the dirty foods out and nourish your body with pure, clean food. You can feel confident that the supplies you have stored will see you through whatever circumstances arrive in the future when you build your food stockpile for nutritious ingredients instead of toxins in a deceptively cheerful box.
You will be amazed at the increase in your health if you can kick the dirty foods out and nourish your body with pure, clean food. And don’t stop at just your kitchen. Extend this to your food stockpile as well. (Check out my book, The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half Price Budget, for more detailed advice on this.) You can feel confident that the supplies you have stored will see you through whatever circumstances arrive in the future when you build your food stockpile for nutritious ingredients instead of toxins in a deceptively cheerful box.
Here’s how to clean your kitchen.
Spend one week cooking from scratch.
You don’t have to do this for an entire month like I did (unless you want to). Just one week will highlight for you the places where you are using “foodish stuff” instead of “ingredients” to make your meals.
Use only single ingredients for one week: flour, rice, oats, organic milk and yogurt, grass-fed meat, organic fruits and vegetables, and basic pantry supplies (yeast, baking soda, etc.) Include your kids in the process of making homemade pretzels, baking cookies and creating gourmet oatmeal flavors like maple syrup apple pecan. (If they’re included in the preparations, it helps to lessen the complaining if they are craving foods that are more familiar.)
You may be just as surprised as I was when you discover that you have more of a reliance on packaged items than you thought.
Buy your dry items in bulk.
The cost of organic flour, wheat, cornmeal, sugar, and oats can be very prohibitive if your budget is tight like mine. By purchasing these items in 25-50 pound bags and storing them properly, you can save about 30% off the price of grocery store purchased items, even when you tack on the price of shipping. As well, you’ll make great inroads towards a well-balanced, nutritious, one-year food supply for your family.
Plant a garden.
Whether you have a few acres, a suburban back yard, a patio or a windowsill, begin now to take steps towards self-sufficiency. No, you can’t grow enough food on a balcony to feed your family of 4 for a year, but you can cultivate some organic foods that aid in cutting your grocery bill while learning more about self-sufficiency. You can sprout seeds and grow herbs year round in a sunny window. You can, at the least, supplement your purchased groceries with a taste of nature brought forth by you. In my 1/10 acre city lot a few years back, I grew enough beans and tomatoes that we were still enjoying them in January. What’s more, I didn’t have to purchase produce from the store for 3 months straight – all of our veggie needs were met in our own back yard.
In my 1/10 acre city lot a few years back, I grew enough beans and tomatoes that we were still enjoying them in January. What’s more, I didn’t have to purchase produce from the store for 3 months straight – all of our veggie needs were met in our own back yard.
Start searching for sources of real food near you.
The next best option to your own garden is making friends with a local farmer at the market. Often, you can purchase many things in bushels at a much better price than the 1-pint baskets. (Check out Eat Local Grown for a farmer’s market near you.)
A few years back, I was fortunate to make friends with a nice older farmer, originally from Italy. Not only did I get a lot of great tips for my own garden, after a while, he began to bring me bushel baskets of “seconds” for canning at a greatly reduced price. To make matters even better, he allowed me to go and pick my own “high-labor” foods like peas and berries. This allowed him to charge me far less, since he didn’t have to pay pickers, and allowed me to learn a great deal about growing those items.
Don’t stop with produce though – find someone who raises cattle and chickens. Check out for yourself the conditions the animals are raised in, see what they’re fed, and make a deal for purchasing in quantity. You will be amazed at the difference in taste between grass fed, organic beef vs. feedlot grocery store beef. When you buy a quarter of a cow, you pay an average price – this means you’ll pay a bit more for lesser cuts that end up as ground beef or stewing beef, but you’ll pay far less for prime cuts like steaks and roasts.
Free range chicken and eggs are also far tastier and healthier than their factory-farmed counterparts. When you buy directly from the farm you can confirm for yourself that your version of free range and the farmer’s version coincide. We’ve also raised our own meat chickens, and there is absolutely no comparison between those and store-bought.
Learn to preserve food.
You probably know that the price of organic produce is sometimes double or triple the price of conventional fruits and vegetables, especially during the off-season. One way to combat this by purchasing organic items that are near their expiration dates and preserving them immediately.
You can also preserve the bounty from my garden and bushel baskets purchased from local organic farmers when the items are in-season. I can, pickle, freeze and dehydrate these foods to consume throughout the year. One
Learn to preserve food by:
Then, you can consume your bargain-priced goodies throughout the year.
One fantastic benefit to canning is that you can put up entire meals in a jar, creating your own healthy convenience foods with nary a chemical in sight. (I have lots of recipes for this in my book, The Prepper’s Canning Guide.) While canning is initially time-consuming, you’re putting away numerous meals simultaneously, saving time in the long run. This is especially handy for those busy days that would have once sent you to the closest drive-through, desperately seeking sustenance while in between piano lessons and soccer practice.
Know how to spot GMOs.
Some people are unconcerned about GMOs, but for those of us who prefer not to consume them, avoiding them can be a minefield since they aren’t labeled.
Over 85% of soy and corn in North America is GMO. That means that if an item is not labeled “organic” and contains one of those ingredients (in its many different disguises) that you are consuming somebody’s science experiment. The corn industry, in particular, is incredibly deceptive about sneaking in its toxic yield under different names.
Know the aliases.
As well, neurotoxic “seasonings” made from MSG like to masquerade under seemingly harmless aliases. Check out The Ingredients You Should Not Have in Your Pantry for more items to avoid. Spend some time looking up the more scientific-sounding ingredients on the labels in your pantry. Compile a list of items you no longer want to bring home and keep that in your wallet to cross-reference against the labels at the grocery store when you shop.
What are you waiting for?
The sooner you take steps to exclude the FDA-approved poisons from your lifestyle, the sooner you can begin to see the health benefits. Clean foods can…
- Help you to maintain a healthy body weight
- Increase energy
- Drop your risk for many different afflictions, including obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease
- Improve your immune system
- Aid in managing childhood “behavioral issues” like ADHD, ODD, and other acronyms short for “medicate kids into little zombies”
There really is no end to the benefits of cleaning up your kitchen and your food storage. What do you have to lose, besides disease, illness and fat?