The Truth Behind Grab and Go Foods

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Most of the time when we think of convenience foods, we think fast food, prepackaged treats, frozen meals, chips, cookies, crackers, and any grab-and-go item in a box.  I have been very health-conscious my entire life, however, my definition of healthy food has evolved over time from frozen lean cuisine meals, canned veggies, fat free whatever’s, fake sugar, and crap diet food (you get the picture) to organic meat, fresh fruit & vegetables, sprouted grains, and other whole natural foods.  In my evolution, I have found that just because a food is labeled organic doesn’t mean it’s good for you, and just because it’s a fruit or vegetable doesn’t mean it is healthy for you. Organic or not.

My sister-in-law and I had a baby carrot conversation this past weekend which put me in a total funk! Who doesn’t love baby carrots? And how much more convenient can a fresh bag of healthy delicious baby carrots get? Okay yes, I have questioned the perfect little suckers. They are always relatively the same size and a beautiful orange. A little too perfect….

Anyone that knows me knows I’m over the top crazy! I won’t even buy shredded cheese in a bag because I know they put anti-caking agents in there. I stay away from yellow cheese too, even the organic because SURPRISE cheese isn’t really yellow. I also stay away from shredded lettuce in a bag. Come on, we all know when you cut lettuce it turns brown, so how does the packaged stuff stay so green? That bag of pre-shredded lettuce is not magically exempt from that natural reaction. Which means we all know they have to put something on there to keep it “fresh” or from turning brown. I hate to be a McDonald’s basher, but yes, I’m going there.

One day I took my children to McDonald’s and I made my them get the “healthy” choice which included a little bag of cut up apples. Ladies and gentlemen, you can leave that bag of apples in your fridge for three weeks, and those pre-sliced apples won’t change one tiny little bit. You think it’s impressive you can take a McDonalds burger, leave it on the table for three solid months and it won’t change one iota? Well neither do their “fresh” apples! The point to my rant is that I’m well aware of what can be done to make healthy foods more convenient and less healthy, however I was very shocked and disappointed when I learned that baby carrots are added to that list of not-so-good for you healthy food.

Shred my own cheese, chop my own lettuce, shred, peel, dice, “fry” my own potatoes and now I have to peel and cut my own baby carrots. Bummer!

So to try and resolve my baby carrot funk, I decided to do some reading. What is a baby carrot? Come to find out they came to be because of waist from larger broken carrots. Once growers found out the love of baby carrots, the industry started to specifically breed them to be smaller in diameter, core-less and sweeter than regular carrots. In order to create thinner vegetables, baby carrots are planted closer together than traditional carrots. In as little as 120 days from planting, the carrots are dug up, cut and either tumbled to get the skin off or peeled. But before packaging, all carrots get a quick scrub followed by a chlorine bath.

There it is! Chlorine. Yes, the same chemical you put in your pools and our counties put in our water. They do this to both organic and non-organic carrots to prevent food poisoning. In fact, they do this to all pre cut fruits and veggies.  The Chlorine also provides a longer shelf life. It is of course approved by the FDA but so are a lot of other things.

That didn’t bother me all that much at first, mostly because I thought it would be much worse than that as far as the chemicals went, but I was really upset about how genetically modified baby carrots are, and what that really means. When we take nature and mess with it too much, it totally changes everything our foods were meant to do. No wonder our bodies are broken down with diseases and ailments.

Apparently wild carrots have high levels of Thymol, a phyto-chemical that is essential for the body to control bacteria and ward off viral infections. When you look at some of these new carrot breeds, this type of phytochemical isn’t there.

If your concerned about the chlorine you can just buy whole, unprocessed carrots and wash, peel and cut them yourself. That will help eliminate some of the chemicals in your body, and if you want your healthy food to benefit your body, it might  be best to try and stick with as much non GMO (Genetically modified organisms) foods as you can.

Here is the break down I found on the web about how chlorine is bad for you in case you’re interested.

Chlorine is a very toxic pathogen

Chlorine belongs to the same chemical group as fluoride called pathogens. Chlorine in its natural form is a common element on Earth and is very toxic. According to the EPA, Americans are consuming 300-600 times the amount of chlorine that is considered “safe to ingest.”

Chlorine is known as a persistent chemical, which means that unlike other sanitation chemicals it does not break down. So, even if the amount used to produce baby-cut carrots is within the EPA guidelines, and you’re bound to be exposed to chlorine through other means, you should be avoiding it wherever possible.

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