More Great Reasons to Prepare Your Food From Scratch

Lots of people feel a sense of safety when purchasing store-bought processed foods regulated by the FDA. It is comforting to know someone is looking out for the safety of the food you buy for you and your family. Have you ever looked into those regulations? Do you know what the FDA considers safe and acceptable? I have and do. Here are a few things you might want to know, all of which can be verified through the FDA's own website.

All regulated foods are assigned acceptable levels of contamination. This includes contamination through mold, rodent hair or feces, and insects or insect larvae, amongst other things. The FDA sets an action level for each product, any amount of contamination below that level is considered acceptable. Let's look at a few popular foods and see how they stack up.

Peanut Butter

The action level for peanut butter is an average of 30 or more insect fragments and 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams. That's about 6 tablespoons. If you go by the 2 tablespoon portion size listed on most peanut butter jars, the FDA considers 10 insect fragments per serving to be problematic. I would like to have that number much closer to zero, as I'm sure you would too.

So what can you do? I make my own peanut butter. It takes about two minutes, some peanuts and a good food processor. I am able to inspect the peanuts before processing to make sure there are no foreign objects present. I put the peanuts into my favorite food processor and turn it on. In a few minutes, I have fresh, homemade peanut butter. I then put it into a clean jar in a clean kitchen, avoiding any contamination. This makes me a lot more comfortable than eating peanut butter that is allowed to have 9 insect parts per serving. Yuck!

Frozen Or Canned Chopped Spinach

Spinach is allowed a lot more insects than peanut butter. The action level for frozen or canned spinach is set at an average of 50 or more aphids, thrips or mites (that's whole insects, not insect parts) per 100 grams. Yuck doesn't seem to express how that makes me feel. I consider an insect in every 2 grams of any product to be excessively high. How about you?

I prefer to either grow my own spinach or buy fresh leaves. Either option will normally have insects present unless strong pesticides have been used. The difference is, I am able to wash the spinach and remove the insects before using, something that is not possible when buying canned or frozen spinach.

I fill my sink with cold water and soak the leaves for 2 minutes, then drain and repeat twice. I then put the clean leaves into my food processor and pulse until chopped. I do this in large batches and freeze what I don't immediately need for later use. This way, I still have the convenience of ready to use, frozen chopped spinach without the contamination.

Tomato Paste, Pizza Sauce or Other Tomato Sauce

The action level for tomato based sauces is set at an average of 30 or more fly eggs or 2 or more maggots per 100 grams. The FDA will also allow for a mix of the two, the level is then set at 15 or more fly eggs and 1 or more maggots. The action level for mold is set at between 30 to 45% of the product, depending on which sauce it is. The reason for so much mold is simple: tomato farmers sell their best tomatoes fresh and whole. The damaged, moldy or otherwise undesirable ones are used for sauces. That's why canned tomatoes cost so much less than fresh; they simply aren't worth as much.

This is one area where you will either have to grow your own or pay a lot more if you want quality. Good tomatoes are expensive. You can peel whole tomatoes, put them into your food processor and purée them. Use this tomato sauce as the base for pizza sauce, pasta sauce and so much more.

How To Have The Best Food

Unfortunately, the only way to know exactly what goes into the food you serve you and your family is to prepare it yourself. Having the right tools for the job makes it easier. Every kitchen should have a good food processor, blender and mixer. Learn how to prepare good food quickly; you will be glad you did. There is little in life more rewarding than providing good, wholesome food for yourself and your family.

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