Category Archives: Food Guide

Eat Local, Eat Fresh

Every time you grocery shop, you have an opportunity to do great things for your body. You buy the highest quality food you can afford, you pick through the produce to find the freshest stuff, and you try to buy organic. Great. Except that most of the stuff you get from the grocery store is not the best stuff – although it’s priced like it is.

Yeah, it might look pretty good, but that meat only looks bright red because it’s been dyed or irradiated to react well under the fluorescent lights – that’s why when you open the package and turn over your steak, it suddenly looks brownish. They do that because the meat is generally trucked in from far away, and they have to keep it looking fresh somehow, or nobody would buy it. That’s also why they pick produce before its fully ripe – it has to survive a week in the back of a truck without going moldy. The result is a product with lackluster taste and a too-firm texture.

Even if you don’t care about the environmental impact, irradiation, GMOs, etc., you should still care about getting great-tasting food for your hard-earned money. Especially as food prices are set to rise – in some cases, triple – in 2013. The solution is to eat locally-grown food.

You usually won’t find it in the supermarket – ironically, Florida grocery stores sell oranges from South Africa and limes from Peru, and similar shenanigans go on in your state. No, you have to look outside the big box store to find the best food for your money.

CSAs

Community Supported Agriculture is your best bet for a steady supply of fresh foods. What happens is this: local farms sell shares in their upcoming crop, and the holder of a share is guaranteed a big box of that crop weekly for however long the term lasts. Your share will vary throughout the year as various things come into season, and there’s usually a pretty nice variety.

The websites for these farms usually list an example of the typical share so you know what to expect. Fruits and vegetables are most common, but some farms offer meats and dairy as well. Check the Local Harvest website to find participating farms in your area. Share prices vary, but most farms offer the option of a half-share so you don’t end up with more food than you can handle.

Meat Shares

So there’s a rancher down the road with beautiful grass-fed cows. Great. Chances are, though, he won’t just sell you a single Ribeye. Smaller farms generally sell meat by the whole, half or quarter animal – that can be an awful lot of meat. If you have a deep freezer and a spare $2,000, this may not be a problem – but if storage or cost is an issue for you, consider a meat share.

A meat share is basically a group of people who get together to split the cost of a whole cow or pig, and divide the meat equally. It’s best to do this with people you know, because money will exchange hands and you have to trust them to not take all the steaks and leave you with the organs (unless you like that kind of thing), but there are options. Some farms organize meat shares themselves, and all you have to do is sign up for however much you want and pay – in some cases, you can even choose your desired cuts. Some CSAs that offer meat do this, or they may offer a separate meat and dairy membership. If all else fails, try Craigslist or your favorite foodie forum for volunteers.

Farmer’s Markets

True farmer’s markets are great because you don’t have to make the long-term commitment of a CSA, and you can just go pick up what you need for a couple of days instead of buying a huge amount of food at once. But make sure the food is actually local – there are open-air markets that call themselves “farmers’ markets” but they actually sell trucked-in grocery store rejects.

If there are no farmers’ markets near you, check your city’s Chamber of Commerce website’s local calendar to see if there’s a weekly green market. These affairs are usually held in open public spaces, usually early weekend mornings. The selection may be limited, but what you do find is often very high quality. Always ask if the food is local though, because there usually isn’t a law that says it has to be.

Garden Swap

If you enjoy gardening, try growing as much produce as you can. Make friends with other like-minded individuals, and you can trade wares at harvest time. This can be great for those with limited space – you only have room for an herb garden, but the guy down the street with the beautiful heirloom tomatoes might be willing to trade for a bunch of fresh tarragon. Never hurts to ask. Some neighborhoods have community gardens that operate like a mini-CSA, where everyone gets a share of the crop – as long as they put in their share of the work. For bonus points, try starting one of these in your neighborhood.

Buying local doesn’t have to mean buying expensive. In many cases, it’s actually cheaper because of the lower transportation costs. It may mean sticking to foods that are in season (no strawberries in February), but once you get used to just-picked produce, you’ll feel spoiled rather than deprived.

The Concept of Local Food

Technically speaking, local food refers to regionally or locally produced food. Buying food products from mass scale producers is one thing, but in recent years we have seen a major awareness and local food movement to give more importance to locally manufactured food products. This movement lays importance on economic and environmental benefits associated with local food as well as its general health benefits to the consumers.

Buying from Local Markets
Believe it or not, transportation distance for local food is on an average 1500 miles lesser than the distance crossed by food products from mass scale producers. Farmers and local producers are now encouraged to sell their produce in large quantities directly to big supermarket chains or these products are made available on retail basis in many smaller outlets as well. At other times, one can see a steep rise in farm sales with fresh vegetables, grains, fruits, eggs etc sold by farmers in outlets adjoining their own farms or poultry. One of the most popular variety of foods available in local foods includes organic food products, organic dairy products, organic poultry, organic meat and fish, etc.

Economic Benefits of Local Food
Buying and selling of local food is beneficial not only to the producers and buyers but also for the nation as a whole. With a rise in local food movement, there is a sharp rise in demand for organic food products. The total sales doubled in a span of 4 years from $3 billion to approximately $6 billion by the end of 2006. This gives an assurance of ready markets to the local producers. Local food manufacturers have reported that selling their produce to local supermarkets is more viable than selling products to local farmer markets. Similarly local food purchases happen to be cheaper because there is slashing of expenditure on transportation and warehousing. As far as the national economy is concerned, there has always been an impetus to local food markets since it helps to curtail the drainage of cash reserves on account of import payments. By year 2007, producer to customer sales of local foods accounted for approximately 0.4% of the total sales. Increasing popularity of local food has created a sharp increase in job opportunities in this field too.

Environmental Benefits of Local Food
Local foods are produced keeping in mind the environmental sustainability issues. Here, farming activities take place without usage of any chemical fertilizers, hybrid seeds or chemical pesticides. A natural farming method devoid of any contamination of fertile soil is the main plus point of local food as it helps to keep land pollution under check. This also has long term benefits to the health of the consumers. Similarly, there is a sharp fall in transportation distance between farm and consumer’s kitchen. This helps reduce carbon emissions that contaminate the air during transportation. Some biodiversity issues give a ‘thumbs up’ to local food. This is because food products like fruits and vegetables manufactured under commercial agriculture banner use hybrid varieties of plants for faster and larger quantity of food production. These hybrid plant varieties may yield larger quantities but nutritional value of these products is poor.

Health Benefits of Local Food
The quality and health benefits of local foods are so high that many of us keep wondering as to why we stopped their consumption in the first place. It is like looking out for health and nutrition all around the world and then discovering that, all that you wanted was right there in your backyard. Local food products are definitely fresher due to their proximity of farms to their markets. Similarly, consumers vouch for their better taste too. There are no traces of artificial fertilizers in these foods, thereby making them safer for human consumption. Organic meat and poultry products are produced, keeping in mind animal welfare. Organic poultry farms are maintained without the usage of harmful chemicals.

Rising Local Food Movement
Local food movement is also known as food patriotism. While all those people who stress on consumption of local food are known as localvores. Here’s more…

There has been an increased awareness about local food movement since the past 10 years. Many local manufactures pack their food products with specific tags stating ‘Certified Organic’. Many supermarkets have demarcated sections or aisles specifically selling organic food products.
We can see a steep rise in farm to school sales for school meal programs with numbers having crossed 2000 schools by the end of year 2009.
There is a growing importance for organic milk products with dairy industries engaging in maintenance of organic pastures for producing better quality milk.
New York state has even passed a legislation in the year 2001 stating “The legislature hereby finds and declares that farmers’ markets provide a vital and highly effective marketing mechanism for thousands of New York farmers, improve the access of consumers and wholesalers to New York farm products, and contribute to the economic revitalization of the areas in which the markets are located.”
A closely related but a sister sector of organic food farming is growing importance of organic clothing wherein natural fibers like cotton are produced by strictly following organic practices.

They say, it’s better late than never. It is always a welcome idea to shift to a healthier lifestyle and opting for the local food movement in your personal life is like crossing a new milestone. I cannot end my article without mentioning the words of late President John F Kennedy. He said, “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We also need this planet to provide us with food. Maybe we ought to figure out some way to take care of it.”

Local Food and its Benefits

The concept of buying things from the local market had diminished due to the globalization and availability of products of international brands. How many of us stuff our weekly grocery with processed foods loaded with preservatives? Processed and preserved foods are not good for health and can cause several disorders in the long term. Therefore, nutritionists and doctors always recommended us to go for fresh and local food. The food that we eat should not only taste better, but, should also provide us with all the essential nutrients and health benefits.

What is Local Food

The term ‘local food’ is a generic term and has several connotations. It can be used to define the food that is grown and sold in the same town. On the other hand, it can also mean the food that is directly sold by the farmer to the consumer (not necessarily grown in the same place); rather than it being processed and packaged in between. In either of the cases, local food is the food that is grown in a proximity of the consumer and sold directly to him. It is as good as growing food in your own garden and consuming it fresh. The foodstuffs that are included under local food are fruits and vegetables that are grown locally; or even bakery products and other foodstuff like jams and cheese that are prepared using local ingredients, and served fresh. You must have come across foods in market tagged as ‘local’ or will even get local food in the smaller food markets. But, what are the advantages of choosing local food over processed food?

Local Food Benefits

When you go to the local market to buy food, you can interact with the farmer who has grown the food that you will be consuming. There are health, economic as well as environmental benefits of local food. Let us take a look at them in detail.

One of the biggest advantage of going for local food is that the food is fresh. As it is grown at a close distance and sold immediately, there are no preservatives added to it. Secondly, as the food is fresh, it has a longer shelf life and will last longer in your refrigerator.
Another health benefit associated with local food is that it is more nutritious and contains all the essential nutrients. As the time in between the farm and table is very less, the nutrients in the food do not get washed off. Therefore, it is always beneficial to go for local food.
Your small contribution in buying only local food can help reduce global warming. As no transportation is required for transporting food, there will be decrease in the use of fossil fuel. Secondly, as few chemicals are used for these products, the environment is protected.
When talking about the economic benefits of local food, note that buying local products can boost the local economy. The farmers who sell products directly to the consumers will receive the full retail value for the products.
The local food movement, as it is called, also helps in retaining the local food traditions and customs. Therefore, the place will retain its individuality through this.
Lastly, local food tastes a lot better as it is fresh and does not contain any unwanted ingredients like preservatives, flavor enhancers, etc. Secondly, buying seasonal foods is also a good option as they are inexpensive.

If you wish to make healthy food choices, then local food is the best thing. As there are several economic, environmental as well as health benefits of local food, opting for local food is definitely a good idea. So, contribute in reducing global warming and prevention of diseases by making a start right now. Good luck!

Most Fattening Foods

Before discussing the topic of fattening foods, it is necessary to understand that not all eatables should be avoided completely, as some of the foods lead to a healthy body if consumed in moderation. This is because our body, just like other nutrients, also needs fats for lubrication and smooth functioning of the system. However, there are a few food items, like soda-based drinks, which can be completely avoided. They serve no health benefits and contain empty calories that give a temporary high. The list presented below should help in identifying the foods that increase fats levels and are harmful for the health.

Ice Cream:
Ice creams are known to contain a huge amount of fats, which should make us think twice about consuming them. Around 250-350 calories are provided by a single ice cream scoop. The additional ingredients like nuts, fudge, whipped cream, etc., raise the level to more than 1000 calories.
Chocolates:
It is one of the most energy-dense foods that lead to increase in fat levels of the body. Chocolates are known to contain 2,200 kJ/100gm, which is much higher for the weight of chocolate in comparison to other foods. Eating them regularly can lead to weight gain and obesity.
Cheese:
It is amongst the most fattening food items in America due to the inclusion of cheese-based fast foods, like burger and pizza, in the diet. It is very hard to digest and sticks to the walls of intestines, resulting into health problems like bloating. Fat storage in the body also rises with increase in consumption of cheese.
Beer:
If one is aware of the term beer belly, he/she must also have an idea about how this drink affects fat levels in the body. This drink has a high content of sugars, which increases the level of fats in the body. It is no wonder then that people who are habitual beer consumers develop a beer belly.
Mayonnaise Salads:
The consumption of mayonnaise can raise fat levels in the body considerably, as it is made from ingredients such as egg whites, oil, and other fats. This food is more fat inducing than most of the other foods discussed in this list. It is quite surprising then that majority of people do not even consider mayonnaise as a food with high fat content.
Fried Foods:
Fried foods, like French fries, are known to have a high fat content. The basic ingredient used in preparation of French fries is potatoes, which are responsible for increase in the fat content. On top of that, these fatty foods are loaded with oil, which makes them the worst food item in case one is concerned about reducing body fat. There are many other fried foods that have the same ingredients. One should, therefore, be careful in deciding the inclusion of fried foods in diet.
Cream-based Soups:
Cream-based soups contain high amount of fats due to the inclusion of cream while cooking them. It is a general perception that soups are healthy and nutritious foods, and the inclusion of salads in soups definitely makes them healthy foods. However, those with cream are fattening and unhealthy.
Soda:
The drinks with soda contain high amount of sugar, and are responsible for increase in body fat levels. Beverages with soda not only lead to fat storage, but also provide a temporary high in terms of energy. The empty calories of soda drinks are of no use to the body.

The food items discussed in this article need to be consumed in a controlled manner. As stated earlier, fats are necessary for the proper functioning of the body systems. However, over consumption can lead to problems like obesity and related health ailments.

Why is Food Important

It is a biologically known fact that, right since the first living organism breathed for the first time billions of years ago, it needed food to survive and grow. Food is something without which growth, development, and evolution would have been impossible. Every living thing on the face of the earth, irrespective of whether it belongs to the plant or animal kingdom, needs nutrition to survive, grow, and reproduce. All the living organisms on earth are therefore, dependent on each other for survival in some way or the other and that is what we call the ecosystem.

The food chain in nature includes both plants and animals who are a part of it and even the tiniest ecosystem has a food chain for itself. Food is not only important for our survival, but when human beings are concerned, there are many other important points. Thus, find out the importance of food from the paragraphs mentioned below.

Importance of Food

… For Survival
As mentioned above, without food, there is no survival. Therefore, the answer for why is food important is that, when you consume some mode of food and nutrition, the body functions in a particular manner. Without a catalyst, there is no product that is formed and for all living things like plants, animals, and humans, certainly food is the catalyst. Hence, when you consume food, nutrition is provided to the body for the production of energy and in turn, the body is functional. The food pyramid gives us an idea about its value in our lives and how, in a very pictorial and clear manner. This is a very biological and medical purpose of food as you need it for the cycle of life. Charles Darwin also supported the importance of food through the theory of “survival of the fittest”.

… To the Human Body
The cycle of life consists of birth, growth, development, reproduction, and eventually death. For an individual to go from birth to death, there is a constant necessity for nutrition and catalyst which is provided by the food which is consumed. The human body is one of the most complicated creation of nature as every pathway related to it is designed very uniquely. These pathways work together to function all the major human body systems and in turn keep the body fit. There is also a need to know why is food safety important, as we cannot consume spoiled and perished food as the fuel for our bodies. Hence, if you have wondered, why is it important to eat healthy food, it is so that these pathways which control the systems work in the proper manner. The basic point of this explanation can be compared to the functioning of a vehicle which works best with good amount and quality of fuel, and breaks down when there are problems in its working.

… To Culture
Apart from only keeping the body fit and healthy, food has other commercial importance too. Have you ever thought why is food significant in certain religions and culture all over the world? That is because these cultures are well-known for their peculiar tastes and methods of cooking. Chinese, Italian, Thai, Indian, European, Mexican, etc. are just a few examples of the cuisines found across the globe. All these cultures are mostly known because of their association to a particular style of food and cooking. When food is associated to culture, it symbolizes the evolution of the culture through food as well. Hence, people of these cultures cherish their food and spices which gives them a unique identity of their own.

These were some varying facts about why food is important in many different ways. So now if reading this has got you hungry, we would definitely advise you to fill your tummy with some of your favorite foods.

Inflammatory Foods to Avoid

Inflammation is defined as the body’s response to an infection or an injury. The inflamed area of the body generally turns red and causes a lot of pain. The swelling, that is clearly visible in the affected area, may subside within a few days. Many health conditions such as heart diseases are linked to inflammation. Chronic inflammation is generally the onset of a serious illness, and immediate medical attention is essential to diagnose the problem.

Inflammatory Foods to Ditch
Inflammation in the body can also occur due to intake of certain foods. Constituents of some food items may trigger inflammatory reactions in the body. One can consult a doctor to know the complete list of inflammatory foods. Staying away or restricting intake of these foods can assure long-term health benefits. Inflammatory foods also increase the chances of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure. Hence, many people prefer to avoid inflammatory foods to avert any health problems. One must be very cautious while eating inflammatory foods, as excess consumption can pose various health risks. Following are the foods that display inflammatory properties:

Junk Food: Also referred as fast food, this kind of food can also bring about inflammation in the body, quite fast. In order to decrease inflammatory activity in the body, it is necessary to avoid junk food.

Red Meat: Red meat consumption can trigger inflammatory activity in the body. Studies show that a cut back in red meat can reduce inflammation observed in rheumatoid arthritis. Red meat, also referred as the most inflammatory foods, include hotdogs, hamburger, and pork. Instead, eating lean meat is a safer option to prevent inflammation.

Alcohol: Excess alcohol consumption is one of the contributory factors that can cause inflammation. Research findings suggest that alcohol abuse actually aggravates the pain from inflammation.

Deep-Fried Foods: One needs to eliminate intake of fried foods as they are categorized as inflammatory foods. Stay away from foods such as chicken nuggets and french fries for optimum health.

Dairy Products: One cannot simply avoid intake of these foods as they are high in minerals and vitamins. Restricting intake of these foods, however, is essential to prevent inflammation from getting worse.

Foods High in Sugar: Intake of high sugary foods has also been linked to inflammation. Foods high in sugar such as beverages (soft drinks), cakes and pastries, etc., need to be avoided. A high sugar diet also promotes weight gain, which may lead to obesity.

Processed Foods: These foods contain ingredients that are simply not good for our health. Most of these packaged and pre-processed foods are loaded with additives such as artificial sweeteners and flavors. Processed foods, such as onion chips, contain a high amount of trans and saturated fats that can contribute to inflammation. Besides containing nasty additives, these foods contain preservatives that may damage health.

Vegetables: Inflammation that is commonly associated with arthritis can worsen if vegetables such as tomatoes and potatoes are included in the diet. However, healthy individuals should have tomatoes (in moderation) as they have high nutrient value.

Remember, reduced inflammation means less pain, which is quite possible by knowing which foods to discard. A healthy diet will contain inflammatory foods in minimal amounts. Keep in mind that an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce inflammation, promote good health and help to avoid other medical problems.

Foods that Cause Gas

Though presence of some amount of intestinal gas is normal, there are certain eatables that can lead to its excess formation. Passing of gas is a normal physiological process. On an average, a healthy individual produces about 1-4 pints gas daily, and at the same time, passes gas about 10-14 times per day. Its unpleasant smell released through the rectum (flatulence) is due to presence of sulfur, in addition to hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and at times, methane. Even though this process is normal, it can create an embarrassing situation when other people are present. Hence, understanding its sources and causes will help in minimizing the frequency of flatulence. On that note, read the following paragraphs, which give a list of the foods that cause gas.

Basics

There are two major sources of intestinal gas, such as air swallowed through mouth and gas formed by bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. Usually, a small amount of gas is swallowed during ingestion of food and drinking of water, which is then passed out either as burping or though rectum. Maximum amount is released by the intestinal bacteria while breaking down the undigested food particles that contain complex carbohydrates and fiber.

Food Products that Cause Gas

Food bloating in an individual may not be the source of gas for other people. On a general note, carbohydrate rich foods trigger the production of gas in the body. On the contrary, foods that contain high amounts of proteins, fats, and insoluble fiber produce less amount of gas. Following is a list of the food items that are known to cause excessive gas formation.

Milk and Dairy Products: Lactose, a natural sugar present in milk, is one of the most common causes. Gas formation due to consumption of dairy products is higher among people who have lactose intolerance symptoms. If such is the case, one can include yogurt and cheese in the diet, rather than consuming milk and other dairy products.

Vegetables: Certain vegetables, such as beans, potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, carrots, corn, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, onion, peas, celery, and other legumes are found to cause gas in many individuals. Hence, for combating the symptoms of this condition, one can minimize the amount of these vegetables in the diet.

Some Fruits: Sorbitol is another triggering factor. It is a natural sugar found in many fruits, such as apples, peaches, plums, and prunes. Other fruits include bananas, apricots, melons, grapes, and raisins. One can substitute such fruits with other alternatives for managing the symptoms of frequent passing of gas.

Fiber-rich Foods: High fiber diet that contain foods rich in soluble fiber (e.g., oat bran, beans, and some fruits) can also be a cause. In order to identify the causes, one can avoid intake of high amount fiber rich foods at a time. Instead, increase the amount of fiber in the diet plan subsequently.

Other Foods: Other eatables are sweeteners, fatty foods, and carbonated beverages. Artificial sweeteners, like mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol may aggravate gas production in some people.

It is to be noted that the amount of gas released due to a particular item is not the same for everyone. Also, limiting gas-inducing food may result in cutting down the consumption of healthy food. In order to avoid such circumstances, it is always advisable to consult a qualified dietitian while making a healthy diet plan that will reduce gas formation.

Healthy Eating Tips for Children

Children have a large appetite in their growing years and require a lot of energy as they are involved in a lot of physical activity. Nearly all the essential nutrients are obtained from dietary sources.

Nutrition Guide for Children
The required nutrients and their sources are as follows:

Carbohydrates: They provide energy required by our body to perform any physical activity. Staples like grains and cereals, starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, beans, bread, pasta, etc., contain high amount of carbohydrates. They should be included in the meals every day, as our body constantly requires energy.

Proteins: Proteins build and repair body tissues, and also regulate body processes. They are also known as building blocks of the body. As they are the most essential nutrients, one must have a regular intake of protein-rich foods like milk, cheese, tofu, poultry, meat, beans, lentils, peanut butter, nuts, and seeds.

Vitamins: Every vitamin has a specific function. Deficiency of any of the vitamins can cause serious disorders. Therefore, vitamins-rich foods must be regularly consumed. Spinach, carrots, broccoli, pumpkin, apricots, peaches, etc., contain vitamin A. Vitamin B is found in whole grains, bread, cereals, poultry, meat, and eggs. Citrus fruits, dark green vegetables, mangoes, etc., contain vitamin C. Milk, eggs, fish, margarine, and sunlight provide vitamin D. Vegetable oils, butter, egg yolk, milk contain vitamin E, whereas, green, leafy vegetables, and milk contain vitamin K.

Minerals: Calcium is an important mineral required by our body for normal growth and development. Along with it, other minerals like potassium, iron, magnesium, and sodium are also needed in lesser quantity. Most of the minerals are found in milk, vegetables, and poultry.

The Food Pyramid

The food pyramid concept is suggested by most of the nutritionists. (Take a look at the picture given alongside) It gives us an insight about the amount of various foods to be consumed for a healthy life. The pyramid is divided into four parts horizontally. Grains and cereals are placed at the lowermost part (largest part) of the pyramid. Hence, they must be consumed in a large quantity. The second part consists of vegetables and fruits which must be consumed in equal amount. The third part contains dairy products and proteins, also to be taken in considerable amounts. The topmost (smallest) part consists of foods containing oils, fats, and sugars. They must be consumed minimally.

Tips on Healthy Eating

☞ Parents must schedule family meals regularly at a specific time. This will help children learn to have complete meals, rather than having quick mini-snacks. As it is observed from the above nutrition guide that vegetables, fruits, grains, and milk contain nearly all the required nutrients, they must be included in meals regularly.

☞ Parents should make a variety of healthy options available for children to choose from. They should also encourage children to try new foodstuffs. Do not provide sweets, candy, popcorn, and chips during meals. Also, aerated or sweet drinks must be completely avoided during meal times.

☞ It is a universal complaint that children do not opt for vegetables and fruits. Parents must make vegetable dishes look attractive and tempting. They can include more vegetables in sandwiches or even make vegetable soups, pies, etc. Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits instead of fruit juices. Meat dishes should be prepared on alternate days. Parents can also opt for low-fat food alternatives.

☞ Parents must set a good example before their children by themselves opting for healthy meals. Children usually imitate their parents. If parents try different foodstuffs, children will be eager to follow. Parents can involve children in planning and preparation of meals. They can be encouraged to provide ideas about the daily menu. They can be involved in buying foodstuffs for meals or their lunch boxes. This will make them feel concerned and connected.

☞ The most important thing that parents should keep in mind, is not to force their children to eat. Forcing anything will make children dislike the food altogether. Instead, help them realize the nutritional value of foodstuffs. Parents should let children decide when they are full, and not force them to eat.

☞ Also, parents must not completely deprive children of sweets and junk food. This will only make them crave for more. Just cut down the amounts gradually, and make it ‘once-in-a-while’ dish. Healthy foods like salads, soups, veggies, etc., should be chosen when eating out. Parents must try to avoid processed and junk food for children.

Lastly, as a quick tip, make meal time a tension-free and conflict-free zone. Children will definitely look forward to healthy meals, and that will ease your worries.

How to Eliminate Pantry Pests

Almost all dry, stored food products for people and pets, such as flour, crackers, pasta, dry dog food, and even birdseed are susceptible to being invaded by a host of different six-legged vermin who can make your life, or at least your cooking, quite unpleasant. These food invaders are commonly called ‘pantry pests’ by those in the know, and their specialty is rendering food unfit for consumption. Anyone who’s encountered them can attest to the fact that it can take a full-fledged war, sometimes a lengthy one, to get rid of them for good.

To get rid of pantry pests and prevent them from coming back, the first step is a thorough and detailed examination of all materials in your house to determine what pests you’re dealing with, and how extensive the infestation is. Often there is more than one type of pest doing damage, or different life stages of the same pest. To wage the most successful war, you need to know your opponent and use the most appropriate weaponry. The most prevalent pantry pests fall into one of 3 major categories: beetles, moths, and worms.

Flour and Grain Beetles

If you see small reddish-brown colored beetles around your cereals or other grain products, you can bet that you have an infestation of ‘bran bugs’, a common name that can refer to any of the several types of beetles. The saw-toothed grain beetle gets its name from the 6 ‘teeth’ located on each side of its throat. It’s very tiny, only about 1/10 of an inch long, and is thin, flat, and dark red or brown in color. This type of beetle is commonly found in packaged grains and cereal products, seeds, nuts, dried meats, dried fruits, and candy. It lays its eggs on or near the food, often inside plastic wrappings. The eggs hatch into small buff-colored, worm-like larvae which eat for a few weeks and then pupate for a week before hatching into the adult form of the beetle, which can live in your pantry for 2-3 years.

2 other common beetles are the red flour beetle and the amusingly-named confused flour beetle, both of which are reddish-brown and about 1/7 of an inch long. They feed on grains, cereals, dried peas, beans, some drugs, and even cayenne pepper. Hundreds of them can live and reproduce in a single box or bag of food, and if that box or bag is in a pantry, the adults can migrate throughout everything else in the pantry and infest everything they find attractive. Foods in open containers that are untouched for long periods are particularly susceptible. Because the female beetle deposits sticky eggs that are concealed by the food, it can be easy to miss them before they hatch and come to the surface.

There are dozens of other beetles that can take up residence in your food and make life miserable, including the cigarette beetle, cabinet beetle, larder beetle, and spider beetles. All of them are fond of infesting grain products or dried foods, and some have particular interesting proclivities. For example, the drugstore beetle has an extremely varied diet that can include even inedible items such as cosmetics, drugs, and even strychnine. Drugstore beetles have been known to bore through a whole shelf of books, or chew through rolls of aluminum foil or sheets of lead! Some species of beetle pests can produce up to 5 generations in just one year, so a severe infestation can develop in just a few months if you don’t try to prevent it.

Worms and the Moths They Turn Into

Most people who see tiny worms in their flour or cereal call them ‘mealworms’. That term can be applied to a whole host of pantry pests, all of which are associated with grain products, usually ones that are damp, not regularly used, and stored in undisturbed out-of-the way places such as basements. The yellow mealworm is one of the largest insects that infest cereal products with its adult form being a black beetle about ½” long. Full-grown yellow mealworm larvae are about an inch long, tubular, and rather hard-shelled. It generally takes about a year for the worms to develop into adult beetles. Dark mealworms are very similar except for their color. Both species are often reared by the hundreds in pet foods kept in pet stores. And when you bring an infested bag home for your pet, you may have unknowingly infested the rest of your pantry as well.

Flour moths are among the most common of all pantry pests. Adults have a wingspan of about ¾ inch, and they are often seen flying around the infested area. The larvae damage stored food products and take about 7 weeks to develop into adult moths. The Indianmeal moth is the king of flour moths, being strikingly marked by coppery-colored wings that are about ½ inch long. The larvae are beige or pinkish, and they form webs across the surface of infested material. Its slightly smaller cousin, the Angoumois grain moth, is often confused with moths that attack clothing. Their favorite diet is popcorn, and they develop into their adult stage in 5 weeks or less.

How to Control Pantry Pests

The only way to completely eliminate and control pantry pest infestations is to follow a systematic, complete control program and maintain a good prevention program afterward. Taking any shortcuts or eliminating any steps may result in total failure and a re-infestation.

Carefully examine all susceptible foods. Look for signs of infestation, such as webs, dead beetles, pupae, living beetles, or larvae. Throw away any foods that are heavily infested, or that have signs of previous infestations.

To keep infested food, heat it or chill it. If the food that’s been infested is valuable to you and you want to keep it, you can either heat the food at 130 °F for at least 30 minutes, or you can place it in a deep freezer at 32 °F for at least 4 days.

Clean up. Empty all shelves and vacuum the entire area, paying close attention to the edges and corners of cabinets. Wash the shelves and cabinets with warm soap and water.

Spray shelves lightly with insecticide. Particularly in the cracks where the shelves and the wall come together, spray an insecticide labeled for use in kitchen cabinets. If a sprayer is not available, use a paint brush to apply the insecticide. You can use 1% proposur (Baygon), 0.5% diazinon, 0.5% chlorpyrifos (Dursban), or 0.25% resmethrin.

Cover clean shelves. After the insecticide spray has dried, cover the shelves with clean, untreated shelf paper before you replace the food and dishes. Be sure not to use insecticide-treated shelf paper, since you’ve already sprayed the shelves.

Use secure containers. Now that your pantry is pest-free, be sure to store your food in clean, airtight containers that new pests will not be able to invade. Be sure to check your stored, dried products from time to time, especially if you don’t use them very often. At the first sign of an infestation, remove the container from your pantry and either throw it away, cook it, or freeze it.

With planning and foresight you can prevent dealing with a pantry infestation. But even if one occurs, you can take care of it fairly easily by following the plan outlined above. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can take whatever steps are necessary to prevent a re-infestation. Keeping your pantry free and clear of all invaders can protect not only your food, but also your health. Hence, do whatever you can to keep those insect marauders from bugging you.