Monday, July 5, 2010

Trust No One

"Trust no one." You hear that a lot in action, suspense, and espionage films. But that adage could just as easily apply to any individual or corporation hawking food products. When will I learn?

The husband and I stopped at Farm & Fleet this weekend to get the flat wheelbarrow tire repaired. As we entered the store, a woman was offering samples of a Sprecher-brand soft drink. Normally I would have passed the samples by, but she indicated they were "all natural" sodas, made with ingredients like honey, cherry, and vanilla. Wow, I thought, that sounds great! I tasted the cherry cola, and it was really good: smooth, foamy, just the right amount of sweet, lots of cherry flavor. We bought a four-pack of the cherry cola and a four-pack of the orange.

On the way home, the husband asked me what the ingredients were, so I took a look at the label, expecting to see "all natural" ingredients. Here are the ingredients for the Cherry Cola that I found so delicious, in order of presentation on the label:

Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, WI Door County Cherry Juice, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Citric Acid, WI Raw Honey and Sodium Benzoate (Preservative).

I have used italics in the ingredients list to indicate what does not appear to be "all natural." First, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is bad, bad, BAD! And not natural. Artificial flavors are, by their very definition, not natural (hence, why they are called artificial), and arguably natural flavors aren't natural if you have to add them! Citric acid by itself has been through an extraction process--not natural. and who knows what sodium benzoate is--but I know it doesn't usually grow in the garden.

The Orange Dream soda ingredients are even more disconcerting in their unnaturalness:

Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Maltodextrin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, WI Raw Honey, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Vanillin, Quillaia/Yucca Extract, FD&C Yellow #6 and FD&C Red #40.

Most of the offending ingredients here are the same as those in the cherry cola, but this drink actually adds two dyes.

It's my own fault; I should have read the labels before purchasing the items. I trusted an individual who used a term I wanted to hear: "all natural." Unfortunately, her idea of "all natural" and my idea of "all natural" are clearly at odds with one another.

When it comes to food ingredients, it is probably best to adhere to the motto "Trust no one." Read the label for yourself. And, in fact, if it has a label, it's probably not good for you.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ranting and Planting

My husband and I made a compromise at the beginning of the year: He gets to have the lawn company fertilize and apply weed-killer in the front yard so it looks nice; the backyard stays chemical-free. Not only do I NOT want to expose myself to pesticides and herbicides, which act like uber-strong estrogen in the body, feeding my cancer, but we eat things that grow in the backyard--mulberries from the trees, wild strawberries and dandelion leaves in the grass, and of course, produce from my garden. I also feed these items to my 11 hermit crabs, who are particularly sensitive to chemicals. chemicals in the backyard. And that's the agreement we made with our lawn company.

[Note: We would really like to use all-natural items on the front lawn, but to do so for our size yard would be incredibly expensive.]

Yesterday, apparently our lawn company came out and applied the chemicals--to the back yard as well as the front! My husband and I are hopping mad. The guy claims he stayed at least 10 feet away from the garden, but that's not friggin' far enough away as far as I am concerned, particularly since the herbicide is sprayed into the air and can be carried by the wind. At least the fertilizer was in granule form, and he claims it is organic, but without knowing what brand it was or where it came from, I have no idea what organic means in his language.

So no more dandelion leaves for salads from the back yard this year (which probably were direct sprayed), and no more gardening barefoot for a while unless I wear my shoes out to the garden and then step out of them.

We'll be sending a check for front-yard application only to the chemical company and canceling our contract. Despite the expense, I think I'd rather not eat out for a month and save up for SAFE chemicals than risk being exposed to killer chemicals again.

* * *
On the upside, I FINALLY got some direct seeding done today: double-yield cucumbers, bushy cucumbers, provider green beans, black beauty zucchini, and clemson spineless okra. I have more to plant, but that's all the energy I had today.

Learning from last year, I planted only THREE zucchini plants rather than 12, so hopefully I won't be overrun with them again. I still have lots of frozen zucchini to use up from last season! I planted a lot of cucumbers, and am planning on making a LOT of bread and butter pickles this year--everybody seemed to like those.

I added grass clippings over the top since the grass clippings in the burn pile had NOT been yucked up by the dufus lawn guy's chemicals, and now I just need to find the energy to go back outside, once I've cooled down, and water.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for some nice weather for gardening! Feel free to supply some more in the very near future!