Sunday, September 18, 2011


Our family did not eat terribly bad growing up. I remember fresh fruits and vegetables every day in our meals and snacks, and my father's meals were always homemade. We rarely ate out or made processed boxed foods and microwave dinners. I began baking on my own at a young age and when I went off to college, I was stoked to discover that the apartment that I would be staying in with other soccer teammates had a full kitchen, so I was able to cook my own food instead of eating cafeteria food.

Even with all those experiences, there are so many food concepts that I never knew until the past five years. These food facts seem so obvious to me now that I am kind of embarrassed that I never knew sooner. I lived in a city and where food actually came from was a question I never really asked. For me, food came from the grocery store, and I never gave it much more thought than that. And so, I have decided to come clean with my food ignorance confessions (please don't judge me!):

1. Skim milk is actually whole milk with the fat "skimmed" off. In the world of homogenized milk being the norm, I never knew cream separated and came to the top. The cream is then removed, or skimmed off, although the process differs now in traditionally homogenized skim milks.

2. Whipped cream is from whipping the cream from milk. I just thought whipped cream was some kind of yummy sweet topping that came in an aerosol can and never really questioned what it was, nor was it ever explained to me otherwise.

3. Peanut butter is not really peanuts mixed with butter. I know, I am really showing my blonde roots here (no offense towards blondes of course), but I cannot remember looking at a nutrition or ingredient label until I was in my 20's. I always figured that if it was on the shelf, it had to be safe. It wasn't even until a few years back that I realized what I had been eating wasn't even real peanut butter, it was hydrogenated oils and a list of other ingredients that made up the trans fat infested, peanut flavored spread we were ingesting. Now our peanut butter is peanuts and salt, true peanut butter. For more information on real peanut butter, you can read my other blog, The Trick to Organic Peanut Butter

4. "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" really isn't butter. Mind you, I did not know exactly what butter technically was either, but I never really questioned why margarine was "not butter." What I did not know is that it too was a list of ingredients, including soy and hydrogenated oils, that was in fact worse than using butter. Butter contains healthy animals fats that are safe to consume within reasonable amounts, unlike some of the unhealthy ingredients in margarine that you just want to avoid at all costs.

5. Baking soda is not only good for baking, but it is amazing for cleaning. Again, I never really looked at the back of the baking soda boxes to notice that it was not only great for baking and keeping my refrigerated and frozen foods fresher, it is also an amazing natural cleaning agent. I now use it to scrub  the caked on goo off my cookware, sinks, countertops and kitchen table after the kids do their crafts. It is also great for removing stains off clothing, especially cloth diapers, when added to the laundry with regular detergent. And finally, it even removes the armpit smell that builds up in t-shirts (or in my case, cloth diaper smells too) instead of having to buy extra smell-removing detergents. It is a lot cheaper than all the different products I would need to buy to do all those chores!

These food facts may seem like insignificant pieces of information to some, but for me, these concepts represent the opening of my mind to the fact that all food and its ingredients come from somewhere and are made a special way, and I'd like to know what they are or how they are made or grown before I eat them. This knowledge is also invaluable information that we pass onto our children in order to help them appreciate and value the food they do eat, and to understand more fully why there is some food that we do not eat.