I don't believe this problem that the U.S. is having is solely about 'fat.' The culture around food is another great contribution to this problem. In speaking with a few baby boomers, I learned that serving sizes have changed markedly over the past 60 years. Non-Americans and those that have traveled know that other countries have much smaller portions. Another factor is the actual way in which we eat. Some of us eat so fast that we don't even realize when we've gone through 2 plates or more. Ever wonder how nice it is to just taste your food! Sometimes I play this game where I try to name every ingredient in a bite I'm eating. With some foods I'm surprised, like lasagna and with others, like tofu (unless seasoned) I'm not.
The point in all of this is that everyone should be conscious of what goes into your mouth. It's really simple to do. Once you do it you can decide what you really like versus what you don't, what you're eating now versus what you should be eating. Personally, I've given myself a new challenge to eat less processed foods and less meat. Eating less processed foods is easy for me but the meat part is much more challenging. I don't believe I'll go back to complete vegetarianism, as I did for two years during my undergraduate years, but I will attempt to gradually decrease my meat consumption by at least 50-75% or more in the future. Baby steps. Fortunately, all it really took to get me to do this was listening to this segment on NPR on America's meat industry. The full story can be found at: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/07/154504565/assessing-consumer-concerns-about-the-meat-industry.
I had heard all of the dangers about the industry since the demands for meat and poultry have increased, but this really scared me. Turns out cows, and some pigs, are fed 'Chicken Litter.' Chicken litter is a mix of "chicken manure, dead chickens, feathers, and spilled feed that has been rendered down into a uniform substance and then marketed to the beef industry as cheap feed for cows." If you are wondering another case of Mad Cow Disease was found this past week in Central California. Pass me the veggies please.
Ever wonder where some of your favorite fast food chicken nuggets come from? Turns out they are made from "Mechanically separated meat (MSM), mechanically recovered/reclaimed meat (MRM), mechanically deboned meat (MDM), lean fresh pork trim." MSM, MRM, and MDM are also know as pink slime when made from beef, and white slime when made from chicken. Its basically a paste-like meat product produced by "forcing" beef, pork, turkey or chicken under high pressure through a sieve to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. The most common product made is hotdogs. Mind you they spray the "slime" of non-desired parts with ammonia to cleanse it before its processed. I'm all for recycling but there must be a better way. I'm not anti-industry, but I believe lifestyle changes must be supported by everyone and if any country ever needed a lifestyle change it would be the U.S.
As apart of my challenge I have decided to go fresher and local when grocery shopping. In my research and budgeting I found some startling information that I must share.
Given the amount of decrease many wonder where this money not spent on groceries goes. Turns out more and more people eat out every night. Doesn't take rocket science to know that the chain restaurants are feeding the population. This doesn't bode well for the health of the nation.
My challenge is very timely. The increase in meat consumption is a global problem. Where are we going to raise all the cattle needed for every human (billion!)? There is simply not enough room to raise them. What about the quality of the product? I certainly do not want to eat slime or a 'meat factored' hamburger. This way of farming is horrible for the environment and is dangerous for you and I to consume. Being a Vermonter, I don't like my cows mad but simply being loud is welcome.
My final thought on this is to say that changing your lifestyle is easy and more affordable in the long run. Give it a whirl! You never know what can happen unless you try.
Here is a recipe to get you started. It can be manipulated for your taste.
A & T's Tofu Stir Fry
Feeds 3-4 People
2 cups of Basmati Rice
1 package of extra firm tofu
4 cups of diced mushrooms
1 red bell pepper
1 large onion
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of soy sauce (reg. or low sodium)
2 cups of water
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1. Drain the tofu and place a plate with a can on top to remove excess water.
2. Cut up all the veggies and cube tofu.
3. Add water in a pan with uncooked rice. Cook on medium until it reaches a boil then leave covered for 20 minutes. DO NOT REMOVE COVER UNTIL SERVING.
4. Add olive oil to a wok or saute pan heated to medium/high heat. After, add tofu and garlic and cook until tofu is brown. Add some soy sauce.
5. Add all the cut veggies and remaining oil, soy sauce. Still occasionally to your liking.
6. Serve stir fry on top of rice. Yummy! Eat up!