Be smart, choose wisely

Be smart, choose wisely
Naini Setalvad

Let me tell you how packaged foods have crept into our daily diets causing havoc on our mind, body and soul. Packaged foods are not only foods that come out of cans and are ready to eat.

Let me tell you how packaged foods have crept into our daily diets causing havoc on our mind, body and soul. Packaged foods are not only foods that come out of cans and are ready to eat. Packaged food can be defined as foods that are packaged in boxes, cans or bags.

In fact, most of the food that is placed on the shelves is packaged today. This is because the foods have a shelf life thus it comes under the definition of packaged. Well, let's think of it this way, how come organic fruits and vegetables don't last as much as items in a packaged container. That is only because they have not been drowned in pesticides and chemicals that will make them last longer. So be smart, read your labels carefully and try and avoid foods that include:

1. Preservatives

2. Artificial colors

3. Artificial flavors—the term artificial flavor on the label may include 10 or more chemicals.

4. Texturants – chemical that add texture to food

5. Excess salt.

Let me run you through some packaged food that will be good for you:

1. Cold pressed oils

2. Whole grain flours

3. Unpolished rice

4. Whole grain breads

5. Steel cut oats

6. Pre-cut vegetables

7. Milk

8. Yogurt

9. Nuts

10. Seeds

11. Herbs and spices natural salts

Packaged foods make life easy for us. It saves us time of cleaning. For more and more Indian households these packaged food items are a boon and a blessing.

In today's world of convenience there are certain packaged foods that we could opt for. Please try to go organic, if not possible at least natural and seasonal when you are choosing fruits, vegetables and grains.

There are several options and choices that you can make as a consumer of these foods. To begin with you can choose cold pressed oils instead of refined oils. Whole grains and whole grain flours are certainly a better alternative to processed white flours. Try to do as the cave men did and use unpolished rice instead of polished rice. Further when you may consider oats, steel-cut oats undergo lesser human interference hence is preferable. Basically in terms of grains and rice stick to unprocessed and unpolished options.

Given our hectic daily schedules it may seem easier and more convenient to resort to pre-cut vegetables available in grocery stores as it saves us the time to cut and peel vegetables while still allowing us to use vegetables while making our meals. We may further not have the same time and resources as our ancestors did to procure and pasteurize milk so milk cartons are not bad options as long as it is consumed within the date of expiry. Further even purchasing yogurt from the store is viable as making yogurt at home on a daily basis may not always be time-efficient.

Let's not forget that natural salts, spices dry fruits nuts and seeds are easily available in local grocery stores and supermarkets. Most people tend to buy ready to eat packages of nuts and seeds which maybe salted or unsalted as per their preference. Nuts and seeds in general do have a longer shelf life and hence are safe to buy even if pre-packaged.

Our ancestors used to dry, mill and grind herbs and spices and store them. However for our ease we are provided with the option to purchase packaged herbs and spices sometimes also specific premade mixes of these.

Always remember when you go for fresh, organic and seasonal foods you will automatically cut out packaged foods.

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