top of page
  • exquisiteepicure

Ingredients, Integrity & Quality

Hey Everyone!

I appreciate all of you for reading and engaging with me through all social media and here! I am so truly in awe of how everything took off so quickly! Thank you for all the love and support! Sooo much more to come, so stay tuned!

 

Let’s talk about a food basic: INGREDIENTS!

The first thing we need to make any meal is the ingredients, right? Each recipe has a list of things we need. Choosing high quality, local and in season ingredients will create a flavorful delicious dish!

What makes food healthy or not?

How do we know what is “good” vs “bad”?

Ingredients have to meet my standards of integrity and quality! As I have gone through so many different types of foods, flavors and standards. It is the biggest factor (besides love) that produces the best possible products!

When it comes to food I am highly picky on the products I buy and more so things that come premade. Lots of companies add unnecessary things to preserve things for 2+ years or to change the color or as flavor enhancers. We as a culture became addicted to these additives more than the actual food. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or MSG or artificial food coloring or artificial flavors. While in small quantities these items might not harm you. They are widely used in so many things and can have different names in order to trick you into thinking it’s healthier for you. They can have long term effects and cause many health issues. Our parents and grandparents didn’t have these issues because most of these now mainstream foods were not around till 1940s to 50s. To them this was junk food and luxury. Now it is a mainstay in many people’s diet.



“What’s the difference between processed and ultra processed foods?A “processed food” means any food that has undergone a change before it’s ready to be sold. This can include canning, smoking, pasteurizing, and drying. Ultra-processed food takes this process one step further by incorporating additives such as added sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors.” Feb 21, 2019 (READ MORE)

 

Why do I care? Why should you care?

For me, I LOVE food and once I learned to cook simply and with great ingredients it changed my perspective on what I liked or even wanted to eat!

Great ingredients don’t need enhancers and great quality products don’t need artificial flavors! I believe the more we learn about food the more we can take back control of what we eat and how it affects our bodies! There are 100s of diets out there and all have different guidelines to follow.

What if it was more simple? What if instead of worrying about what you were eating (like veggies or cake), you focused more on the root issue the ingredients?

SO… Ingredients

What do I look for?

Raw, Organic & Local (if possible) for vegetables and fruits (seasonality also plays a role in flavor)

Proteins that are sustainably raised with no added hormones or antibiotics, proper diet for animal and humanely slaughtered (or wild caught for seafood)

Eggs & Dairy raised without added hormones or antibiotics, humanely raised, proper diets and local (if possible)

Shelf stable products such as pasta, tomato sauce, jelly, ketchup, chips and anything in between always organic or local whenever possible

*Read the labels if you don’t know what something is most likely its a chemical preservative or flavoring*

*Be wary of things that say “All Natural” or use green labeling. It is used to make us “think” it is healthier.*

Faux Meats (huge up & coming market) biggest thing is reading labels

*These companies can use preservatives and more that are not good for you. Just because it’s Vegan doesn’t mean it’s better for you*

Unfortunately, most labeling requirements don’t have to be verified so if you are unsure of what to look for check for labels like:

  1. Certified USDA Organic (these farms and companies have to pay to get verified and tested to be pesticide/herbicide, etc free)

  2. Non GMO Project (this project verifies the products used in these recipes are not genetically modified.)

  3. Fair Trade Certified (these farms pay living wages, provide safe work environments, don’t use child labor, have to be sustainable practices and support their local economy)

  4. Grassfed (USDA program that verifies that cattle is feed strictly grass (the diet they are meant to eat)

  5. Animal Welfare Approved and Animal Humane Certified (both verify proper treatment for cattle and poultry, raised in sustainable & humane ways and slaughter practices)

  6. Certified Naturally Grown (is the free alternative to paying for certifying organic. These farms follow organic practices for growing.)

 

What’s really the difference between Conventional and Organic?

“Conventional farming, also known as industrial agriculture, refers to farming systems which include the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other continual inputs, genetically modified organisms, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, heavy irrigation, intensive tillage, or concentrated monoculture production. Thus conventional agriculture is typically highly resource and energy intensive, but also highly productive. Despite its name, conventional agricultural methods have only been in development since the late Nineteenth Century, and did not become widespread until after World War 2″ Read More

USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.” Read More

Basic translation is that conventional foods are grown by any means necessary. They can use chemicals, additives and genetically modified or engineered seeds to get food to grow and produce more. Whereas, organic foods are grown in the most natural and sustainable way possible. Organics are not only what was standard not even 100 years ago but it is also more nutrient dense because the soil is more healthy and maintained.

Does this mean you need to avoid buying conventional vegetables, meats and other things?

Short answer yes. Reality is most people can barely afford the food they already buy let alone converting to fully organic practices.

So, what should I do? Or how can I do my best with organics and conventionals?

Start with your budget, see what you can spend money on. Like organic beans are .20 to .30 more a can, whereas meats go up $2+ a lb.

Go to your local farmers market and talk to the farmers! So many small farms don’t use pesticides and additives but getting certified can be costly. A lot have organic practices and typically come in cheaper than grocery stores.

Look out for sales. Whole foods being owned by Amazon gives you an extra 10% off sale items with Prime.

Follow the dirty dozen list (always buy organic) & clean fifteen (ok to get conventional) – Environmental Work Group releases an updated list every year (click here)

 

Local is the way to go!

I love local produce, meats and seafoods!

Some great reasons to shop local:

Supporting your community and local economy with job creation and keeping money in local community

You can meet and talk to farmers, get to know their practices and support the ones who meet your needs

Typically picked fresh within a day or two, more nutrient dense and flavorful

Local farms and businesses only survive when their community supports them. These small farms rely on local consumers whether it be households, co-ops or local restaurants to continue to grow and produce yearly.

Fresher produce means deeper more flavorful taste because it’s picked when it’s ripe. They grow what is in season at the moment so you get the best quality. It has the highest amount of nutrients when it is first picked every day (as it dies) it loses nutrients. The average is a 30% loss by day 3 after being picked! Thats crazy!

You want to know something more crazy?

Different produce can be stored for weeks to months waiting on distribution. (Read this)

This is why shopping locally for produce that is in season is so important. How much nutrients are lost a month after being picked, shipped and stored? The quality, the flavor and the fact you are helping a small business keep running are great reasons to find a local farmers market or farm co-op today!

 

There is so much more that we can dive into on each topic mentioned. For now, use this as a jumping ground! Ask me questions. Research. Talk to local farmers.

Food is a need that we all have and having great food and learning to cook it simply is so important! I know this is a lot of information and I barely touched the surface on all the things that we all need to know! I will keep expanding on all these topics over time.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment so I can help you!

 

I hope you found this informative and learned something new! Please subscribe to my newsletter which will keep you updated on new posts and more! Signup is found to the right on the margin!

Checkout the Pastry Shop for sweet treats!

Thank you again! Sending love and positivity until next time!

Alexia

2 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page