Tuesday, March 13, 2007
So this whole food debate on what to eat and what not to eat never seems to desist. My dad is a cardiologist and quite health conscious so I get more than my fair share of food rights and wrongs from him.
The one thing that my dad always harps and tries not to compromise on is organic foods. That being the case, my information has always been one-sided and I naively thought the issue didn't get much more complicated than that... until I saw this article in TIME magazine. I think it gives a pretty good perspective on the issue, but I do have some reflections:
1. The idea behind organic is to limit the ingestion of any amount of any chemical. I don't buy the argument that using small amounts on foods isn't going to harm anything. Chemicals are not, by any means, tested to a standard that would deem the safe. Often times the FDA is under pressure to approve/disapprove a chemical because the company wants to go to production. My guess is any sort of chemical dose will affect your body in some sort of way. That's why its best to always get food that is as naturally grown and raised as possible.
This being the case, in any situation organic is better from a strictly health perspective.
2. The whole argument of local foods v.s. global foods definitely holds some weight -- this is the part I never realized. I think its more than critical to consider what it takes to get the fruit to the destined location. I'm most definitely against shipping fruits and veggies from random parts of the world just because they are out of season. Not only do they bruise and taste not so great when they are shipped, but the idea of wasting so many resources on something not essential doesn't make sense.
Keeping in mind that our bodies are amanat (trusts) from Allah upon us and that I don't want to be in the hospital for the last x years of my life, I think the following is the best to do. Stick to local farmers markets and specialty food markets like Mother's Market, Trader Joe's, Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods. These places carry primarily local goods and buy organic products whenever they get the chance. If you stick to their organic products you should be on the right track. Even if they don't carry organic, their produce is most certainly better than your local supermarkets. I would recommend trying out each fruit as it appears on the shelf because occasionally these places do import fruits from abroad and you can certainly tell from the taste. Just try it out and be your own judge.
So for the people who are trying to look out for their health and be environmentalists all the while getting a tasty snack or meal, the basic formula seems to be eat a meal that's as balanced, natural and healthy as possible, always. Its not about what you cheat on (i.e. the weekly brownie or pizza or whatever) but what you're consistent about.
One last thought for all those in college: finals is usually a time of eating hordes of snacks, junk, and fast food (if it wasn't already a part of your diet). Specialty markets like those mentioned above carry a wide variety of healthy and natural alternatives that will keep you studying better, harder and longer, insha'Allah, wa Allahu a`lam (and only God knows best).
Keep a brother in your du`a', especially in times of duress.