Food irradiation is the process of using radiation to kill bacteria and other contaminants. But while radiation is used to reduce bacteria in the spices we are consuming, the finished product has decreased levels of vitamins and natural enzymes. Irradiation changes the chemical composition of a spice, potentially creating toxic, carcinogenic by-products in the food and increasing our exposure to free radicals. Free radicals cause aging and disease – something we want to avoid at all costs!
How To Buy Spices Safely
With that said, it’s extremely important to fill our pantries with spices that promote health, rather than take away from it. Below are strategies for buying spices to make flavorful dishes, promote health and limit your exposure to hidden toxins.
- Always buy organic spices – not only will they not have toxic pesticides, but they also will not be irradiated. Organic spices cannot have genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs), artificial colors, preservatives, and other synthetic anti-caking agents.
- Buy spices from the bulk bin to get the most bang for your buck. Buying a large amount ensures the spices will be used in an appropriate amount of time.
- Check the expiration date. Spices, unlike wine, do not get better with age. Make sure you clean out your pantry often to avoid using expired spices. With age, spices lose their powerful benefits.
- Replace conventional spices as soon as possible. If your spice cabinet is full of conventional spices, start to buy organic spices for each new recipe you make week after week, eventually you’ll have a whole new assortment of organic spices to choose from.
Interesting, and like I say, not surprising. That said, this is all fine and good but not all of us have the luxury to buy according to these guidelines. Like most things we simply have to make a chose and do what we thing works for each of our situations.
Yesterday, when I was out and about I stopped into a little independent grocery store and I was delighted to find spices in small quantities (0.60 oz.) and very reasonably priced at $1.99 each. I purchased 12 spices and I am pleased especially since according to my research the company is reputable and has been around for years. In fact when I looked at my spices some of them are the same brand.
No, they are not organic but given the fact that I am three quarters of a century old, I see no reason to be concerned that they are not organic or about irradiation or GMO's. I do not think my life span will be shortened! Additionally, I certainly do not cook as much or elaborate as once was my style.
Now let's go and cook something and use fresh spice.