General Question

BoyWonder's avatar

What are the best food products to buy these days that aren't filled with additives and artificial junk?

Asked by BoyWonder (811points) January 21st, 2009

Anything? I’m guessing anything organic, but anything else? How about for a surviving college student trying to stay away from junk food? What are little healthy things I can buy that can hold me down besides fresh fruit?

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11 Answers

cdwccrn's avatar

Fresh veggies, whole grain breads,

seVen's avatar

Nuts and seeds as well as herbs to make tea from .

Aethelwine's avatar

Yogurt and nuts

hahniam's avatar

The less processed the better….if it does not come in a box or plastic….chances are good it is pretty untouched. For example, fruit, nuts, vegtables….

dynamicduo's avatar

Learn how to make your own food items, such as bread and granola bars, these are really easy to make and will let you create healthy items at low cost. Might be a bit hard if you’re a college student in a dorm, but as long as you have an oven, you’ll be fine. Be careful about intrinsically trusting organic things as being better, it’s a faulty assumption – organic food is not healthier than regular food, especially if you’re talking about additives and artificial junk (which aren’t found in fresh organic nor regular fruits and vegetables).

Hummus and vegetables is a great, great snack. Easy and cheap to make (take one can of chickpeas, add a bit of tahini [ground sesame], lemon juice, oil, and any spices, blend it all up, you’re done!), keeps well in the fridge, is very healthy, and tastes great even kept in a not cold backpack for a few hours. Chop up veggies to your liking (carrots and celery are classics, try broccoli, peppers, cucumbers too), dip in hummus and eat, voila a delicious healthy nutritious cheap snack.

Muesli cereal is also great. It’s basically a combination of grains, nuts, and small amounts of fruit (commonly raisins). The downside is it’s not as cheap as other mass manufactured cereals, but that’s cause you’re paying for quality ingredients like almonds and raisins and not paying for only one ingredient of puffed wheat. I find muesli to be extremely filling and I often eat it in the morning when I need a big boost of energy. Best of all you can make it yourself too.

Basically, the key to avoiding additives and artificial junk is to shop on the edges of your grocery store, and avoid the aisles. Fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, dairy products, all these are healthy and additive-free (for the most part, check the ingredient lists if you’re not sure, such as for things like mass-manufactured bread). It’s when you go down the aisles and see things like premade puddings and Lucky Charms cereals that you start finding additives and artificial junk.

It’s hard at first to stop buying cheap foods like instant pudding, and to buy custard powder and make a fruit custard with milk at home instead. It’s harder if you don’t cook often, it’s sometimes more expensive, and it will take up some of your time. But as long as you remember that you’re providing your body with better quality fuel, it’s easy to resist the temptation to buy pre-made crap. Plus it’s great fun to serve something and say “I made this myself!”

basp's avatar

Fresh fruits and vegetables.

cookieman's avatar

@dynamicduo is very right about “organic” items not being better.

As has been said, fresh produce, nuts, legumes (beans), whole grain bread, fish

I also love dd’s idea of making stuff yourself – time permitting.

steve6's avatar

800 words on organic food?

EmpressPixie's avatar

Fresh fruits and vegetables. Granola (which is pretty easy to make yourself and when you make it, pretty cheap). Yogurt. Read labels—try for no more than five or so ingredients and recognizing all of them. That’s the best way to avoid weird additives and keep it healthy. Also try for minimally processed foods.

For a fast snack, consider baby carrots. Eat hummus with cucumbers. Try fish, not red meats.

And read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.

cookieman's avatar

@steve6: Sure thing. This is all about IPM. It integrates a variety of growing methods including some used by organic growers. To be clear, organic is not bad – it’s just not better as it’s marketing suggests.

“The goal is to produce foods in a sensible, sustainable, environmentally responsible manner. Our methods have evolved from four generations of experience into what we call “Sensible Farming.” We are able to produce 75 acres of produce from only 33 acres of land. Intercropping, greenhouse transplants, and aggressive crop rotation are some of the many methods employed. Variety, selection, eating quality, plant vigor, yield and natural resistance to disease and pests are also very important. We farm over 500 acres in total between our two locations.

We have been farming the same land for over 125 years. Soil conservation and fertility is our single most important cultural practice. If the soil is right, the plants grow faster and healthier with more natural resistance to disease and pests. Without healthy soil, producing healthy crops is impossible. The lifeblood of our farms is our compost, which is a combination of horse, cow and chicken manure combined with all of the green waste we generate. This mixture is blended throughout the year and is spread approximately 1” thick over both farms in the spring. This has been the replenishing vehicle for our soil enrichment practices. As a result of these efforts, we now have more Top Soil than we had forty years ago.

We aggressively control weeds because they harbor insects and compete with plants for water and nutrients. All our crops are planted on raised beds in uniform rows, thus allowing 85% of the weeds to be removed mechanically by a tractor fitted with a basket cultivator; the remainder are easily removed with a hoe. We plant tomatoes in black plastic. The plastic prohibits sunlight and retards weed growth. Between them we plant Dutch White Clover which adds nitrogen, and is dense enough to choke off competitive weeds and aids in the conservation of moisture.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated Pest Management combines science and experience to grow healthy crops and discourage weeds and pests. The University of Massachusetts introduced IPM in the mid-1970s, but four generations of Wilson farmers had already been using many of its practices.
IPM incorporates all aspects of growing:
Soil Enrichment: Keeping soil rich and healthy is the basis of growing great produce. Wilson Farm replenishes our soil throughout the year by using a combination of manure and compost made from all the green waste produced on the farm. Our soil is actually healthier today than it was 50 years ago. Rich soil encourages quicker plant growth, resulting in stronger plants and crops that can be harvested sooner – giving weeds and pests less chance to interfere.
Weed Prevention: We plant tomatoes on black plastic to block sunlight, thereby preventing weeds from springing up between rows. Many of our crops are started as seedlings in the greenhouse and transplanted to the fields only when they are strong enough to choke out competing weeds.
Irrigation: We use less overhead watering in our fields. Drip irrigation conserves water and discourages plant disease by keeping stalks and leaves dry. Drip hoses are placed over the root zone so only the roots get water. Any weeds trying to take hold between rows are left thirsty.
Pest control: We focus on keeping pests away rather than using pesticides to get rid of them. Ideally, pests are controlled before they can mature and reproduce. Pheromone enhanced and yellow sticky plant traps are placed throughout the fields and monitored. Only if a population reaches threatening levels is an environmentally friendly pesticide employed. It is important to understand pest life cycles to control their population growth. Destroying pests in the larval stage requires fewer and less potent pesticide applications; and in some cases, none at all. For example, we have not sprayed radishes in over 25 years. We also use several techniques to confuse pests. For instance, aphids are attracted to peppers, so we plant them on silver colored plastic. As the aphid flies toward the plant it cannot
distinguish between sky and plastic-covered ground so it keeps flying and never lands. We also plant a small number of part-tomato/part-tobacco plants in our tomato rows. These are especially attractive to pests who attack these decoy plants first. In the spring you may notice gauzy fabrics covering the early crops in our fields. This cloth allows light and water in but protects against cold temperatures and pests. These techniques successfully facilitate faster growth and earlier harvests, leaving the crops less vulnerable to later pest infestations.
All of these techniques have been developed over time combining advances in plant science with the experience and common sense of generations of farmers. You can adopt several of these techniques in your own garden:
. Feed your soil with a combination of manure and green compost.
. Plant varieties that have been developed to be disease and pest resistant.
. Plant tomatoes on black plastic to prevent weeds from springing up between rows.
. Plant peppers and other aphid attractive plants on silver plastic.
. Start seedlings indoors and transplant to the garden when they are strong enough to choke out competing weeds.
. Water plants from ground level, keeping stalks and leaves dry. Use drip irrigation if you can.
. Place insect traps throughout the garden and monitor for increases in population.
. Cover early crops with a spun-bonded fabric to keep warmth in and pests out.”

steve6's avatar

good stuff, a fountain!

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