If you have been making the effort to buy organic food, there are often small details that slip through the cracks. For many people, transitioning to an organic lifestyle is a work in progress, and you can make small steps along the way to improve your diet as time goes by. One place in the kitchen that should not be ignored is the spice cabinet.
Conventional spices might seem harmless, especially when you read the label and only see a single ingredient listed. Some people rationalize that they can continue using conventional spices, because they seem like they are fine.
But, the truth is that spices should be one of the first things that are changed in your kitchen. Information has been uncovered that shows how much contamination might be present in that little bottle, so you need to consider the things that you are eating and how the spices might be impacting the health of your family.
Spices are dried versions of natural, fresh plants. When they are dried, the plant is ground or chopped and packaged to be sold as the spice. The problem is that these foods contain a high concentration of pesticides, and these ingredients can be quite toxic to your health. If you buy organic produce and sprinkle on conventional spices, then you are contaminating your dinner.
Most conventional spices are made from plants that have been treated with hazardous chemicals, and they go through other processing methods that destroys the medicinal qualities. These processes can be harmful to your health.
When the spices are harvested from the field to be dried, they are often contaminated with mold, yeast, insects and other pathogens. So, the manufacture sterilizes the spices with toxic chemicals and other products to prevent sickness. Often, ethylene oxide is used to sterilize the produce, leaving behind a chemical, carcinogenic residue.
During the processing to package the spices, most companies use a process called “irradiation.” This method actually utilizes radiation on the food to kill contaminants and bacteria. Even though the bacteria is killed, irradiation also reduces the health benefits of the plant. As a result, the spice is lower in natural enzymes and vitamins.
Another problem with irradiation is that it actually changes the chemical composition of the plant. As a result, the spice might actually be carcinogenic and toxic because of by-products that are created. These compounds can increase your exposure to free radicals, which can in turn lead to disease and aging.
Some of the biggest culprits in your spice cabinet might be the pre-made mixes such as taco seasoning, soup base, and more. These products are convenient to use, but the conventional versions often have dangerous ingredients that need to be avoided. Here are a few of the common ingredients added to conventional spices, which you need to avoid:
GMOs: Corn and soy derivatives are often added to spices, and they usually come from GMO sources.
Anti-Caking Agents: Used to prevent the spices from clumping together
Preservatives: To keep the spices fresh and potent for a longer period of time
Artificial Flavors and Colors: To keep the spices looking good and tasting good, although the methods are unnatural and harmful to your health.
MSG: Monosodium Glutamate is a dangerous chemical that is often added to spices to enhance the flavor.
Don’t let this information scare you away from using spices in your cooking. In fact, spices can be very good for your health if you buy the right product. Consider buying fresh, organic herbs to cook with to maximize flavor and increase the health benefits that are available.
When you are stocking your spice cabinet, here are a few things that you need to keep in mind:
Buy Organic Whenever Possible: Organic spices are made from plants that weren’t treated with chemicals and pesticides. Additionally, USDA certified organic foods are banned from using irradiation and other sterilizing agents, increasing the quality and health benefits of the food. A brand I particularly love and use is Gaia’s Essence Natural & Organic Living. They specialize in unique selections of Loose Leaf Teas, Salt Free Seasonings & Organic Gluten-Free Baking Blends created for their health benefits & spectacular flavors.
Small Quantities and Frequent Purchases: Even though it might seem like a good idea to stock up on your favorite spice when it goes on sale, the spice will begin to lose flavor and potency after a while. Buy spices as you need them, and don’t be hesitant to throw away old spices that have lost their flavor. Buying them in small amounts will allow you to use the spice before it goes bland.
Some of the big spice companies are coming to understand more about the importance of quality, which means that organic spices are more readily available. Shop around and try different brands to find the one that you like the best!