Some thoughts on English eating…

I’m fresh from my trip to England. It was great and I can’t wait to go back again.

Between work and play I found time to make a few observations about food in England. Where in the US it’s a specialty thing to have locally sourced food, it’s the norm in England. Go to a pub: many of them brew their own house beer or ale from local wheat and even their taps of brand name beers will be labelled “Made with 100% British wheat.” Their packets of crisps are “Made with 100% British potatoes.” Even the street food vendors, like the terrific crepe man (who cooked the crepes fresh in front of you) used all locally sourced dairy.

Britain is very proud of its sustainability and self sufficiency. Perhaps that’s still left over from the Victory Garden mindset of the 40s. They are a tiny island that is both proud and powerful.

Of course they do import many spices and some more exotic ingredients, but their markets are overflowing from food from their own backyard. Even their beef (I don’t really do beef at home in the US) is from nearby. It tastes so much better because it’s allowed to graze and live.

Amidst all the local food, natural flavors, and their delightful ban on high fructose corn syrup, there is one puzzling thing. That’s their love of aspartame. They use natural sugar in their soft drinks which is great. Then they throw in a dash of artificial sweetener to amp it up which is terrible. It makes their sodas sweeter than sweet. Most of us have heard about the risks of these chemicals, even the US government has to admit they might be linked to brain tumors and cancer , but not definitely enough to ban them. Regardless, it’s not a good thing to put in your body and it’s completely unnecessary to the flavor of the beverage.

Ah well, something to figure out on my next trip I suppose.

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Always check the Label!

When it comes to living more naturally, what you eat is always one of the biggest concerns. I mean, we all eat several times a day and those of us pursuing a healthier lifestyle have, no doubt, at one time or another despaired over how unhealthy much of the food that’s readily available is.

Eating food as close to its natural state is the easiest way to eliminate chemicals from your diet. Buy fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and prepare them yourself with herbs, spices, and other yummy natural flavors. Sometimes though, we all like a treat and baking can take a long time. So we grab some frozen yogurt or, one of my personal favorites has been Nutella. Yes there’s been a little “scandal” about Nutella lately. It mainly consists of hazelnuts and cocoa. I feel like it shouldn’t be a surprise to people that nuts and chocolate have fat and sugar in them.

That being said, I maybe buy a jar of it about twice a year. It’s great to spread on toast sometimes. The other day I was at the grocery store, contemplating a jar of it when I took a closer look at the label.

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Do you see that last ingredient there? Vanillin. Cheap artificial vanilla. You know, the kind you can taste in really sad ice cream and coffee flavor syrups. Now this isn’t the most harmful or terrifying of the chemical additives that one finds in their food nowadays, but it still bothers me. A product that brags about using real milk and cocoa has skimped out on the vanilla. I decided not to indulge in it because of this.

Just because a product advertises itself as something natural or has branded themselves in a positive, clean, natural way doesn’t mean you can skip the read-through. Breyers is a perfect example of this. Their “all natural” label really is made with milk, cream, sugar, and natural flavors. But not all of their ice cream is in spite of their advertising campaign.

So when it comes to buying anything premade, I always ere on the side of caution and make sure I read the label.