"Foodie" is a pretty common term these days to describe a movement of people who live to talk about and experience food. The word was coined back in the 1980’s by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, who used it in the title of their book, “The Official Foodie Handbook.”
Some foodies spend their days tracking down the best burrito in town, while others take a stance on larger food issues, like the U.S. food system.
One of the celebrity foodies on the block is Eric Schlosser, known for his best-selling expose on the fast food industry, “Fast Food Nation.” In a recent article for the Washington Post, he wrote about some of the latest issues with what we eat and why we should care.
Schlosser wrote, “During the past 40 years, our food system has changed more than in the previous 40,000 years. Genetically modified corn and soybeans, cloned animals, McNuggets — none of these technological marvels existed in 1970.”
He also discusses a recent study published in March 2011 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases that found nearly half of the beef, chicken, pork and turkey at supermarkets nationwide may be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
How is this happening?
“About 80 percent of the antibiotics in the United States are currently given to livestock, simply to make the animals grow faster or to prevent them from becoming sick amid the terribly overcrowded conditions at factory farms,” he wrote. “In addition to antibiotic-resistant germs, a wide variety of other pathogens are being spread by this centralized and industrialized system for producing meat.”
Sounds like no better time than to become a foodie or at least take an interest in where your food is coming from. Here are a the top tips to becoming an informed foodie.
1) Buy your meat from a butcher. Ask the butcher where the meat comes from and strive to get it from small local farms where animals are not treated with antibiotics or hormones.
2) Get to know your labels. Look for organic or the term, “no antibiotics added.” Organic USDA-certification for organic meat forbids use of growth hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified feed or animal by-products in raising the livestock.
3) Find a farmers’ market near you. The number of farmers’ markets has dramatically increased in recent years, which is good news for foodies. You can not only find farm fresh treats, but get to know the people who produce your food.
Suzanne Boothby is a Brooklyn-based wellness writer, certified health coach and co-founder of New York Family Wellness. Visit www.suzanneboothby.com to learn more.