Ingredients - The Bad Ones - a.k.a. "Funk"

So if I told you what great ingredients are, and skipped the lecture on the funk, I wouldn't be a very good friend.

Funk rhymes with junk.  What I'm going to list here is junk, pure and simple.  The really frustrating thing is that funk is everywhere - at your grocery store, in your favorite products, and at your favorite restaurants.  The fast food industry cannot exist without funk, nor can most of your pre-packaged, convenient and tasty choices at the grocery store.

When you're done reading this post, some of you might say "Nah, she's a fanatic.  I eat fast food and packaged products all the time.  They don't have bother me or my family at all.  It's what we like.  She can keep her butter and whole wheat and leeks, I'm going to eat a Whopper."

You don't have a problem with funk?  Really.  How's your health?  Your weight?  Do you sleep well, wake feeling rested, have plenty of energy during the day?  How are your kids - do they have weight problems, behavior problems, attention problems, frequent illness?  How's your skin, your hair, your nails and your breath?  Should we even start talking about hormones?

Of course I'm no doctor, nor a nutritionist, nor have I had any formal training or study.  But I'm going to tell you that funk has no place in healthy eating or gourmet cooking.  If you want the very best in flavor, nutrition and experience, avoid the following:

MSG - also known as mono sodium glutamate. 
This is an icky "salt and flavor" deal that perks up the flavor of food that would otherwise taste gross.  MSG has several cousins that lurk in your food, also.  Watch for the names "hydrolyzed soy protein" and "autolyzed yeast extract."  How about "texturized vegetable protein?"  "Glutamic acid" and "yeast extract" and "spice extract" round out the list.  Some people are allergic to these compounds, some people just feel cruddy when they eat them.  It is not food.  Salt is food, so are herbs and spices.  Use them to enhance the natural flavor of your good food, and you will notice a world of difference.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
This is not sugar.  This is not corn.  This is a highly processed, extremely unnatural and refined product that might have started out as corn, but now it's basically a compound that will make you fat and addicted to sugar.  Swim away, fast.  Put down the soda, and make some real lemonade with real sugar.

This is the nasty stuff that makes hot dogs, ham, bacon, and sausage sit on a shelf without rotting.  It's what "cures" such products.  If you like head aches and such, then this is your stuff!  But if you like flavor and good health, look for the "uncured" meats that are more readily available than ever.  I can now buy bacon, sausage, ham and hot dogs at Costco that are nitrate free!  Yay!

Too many to list here, but do a google search and find all the ugly words that keep your frozen, packaged and processed foods happy on the shelf and in your cupboard for months on end.  Ish.

Artificial Colors
Nothing has been more linked to behavior problems in children than food dyes.  Your pretty Kraft mac and cheese, your Doritos, your Gatorade - all are pretty from funk.  Red peppers, orange carrots, green onions, purple cabbage, blueberries - these are naturally pretty and healthy.  Eat them in abundance!

When you cook with the very best ingredients, and avoid the funk you will notice a world of difference in flavor.  Trust me!  A hamburger, well seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and onion is out of this world in flavor!  You can taste the meat, and that is a very good thing :)  Funk is used to cover up and disguise otherwise sub-par food products.  Funk also makes you want to eat more of the product, and more of the funk, and you will eventually end up overweight and unhealthy.  I'll tell you my own obesity story one day.

Give your family the highest quality you can afford.  Simple and natural foods, seasoned with thought and love, prepared with care and attention, will bless your family in one of the sweetest ways possible.