As a teen, I was an occasional viewer of the Star Trek television series created by Gene Roddenberry. I was intrigued by the moral/philosophical issues posed in many of the shows, but was not that interested in future technology. And I was disturbed by a scene where they made a meal with machines and not real food. That image of ingesting food produced from a computer just violated my agrarian sensibilities, even if it looked like real food!

As an adult, I am a bit more accepting of technology, but am even more disturbed by processed “fake food.” If you disagree with my assessment of processed food, just try to read the labels on most processed food cans and containers. Is it sane to blithely accept that the combination of non-food ingredients are always safe for us? History would say otherwise.

FDA image of transfat food

FDA image of foods containing trans fat

As one  example, trans fats were introduced into our diets early in the 20th century, according to the American Heart Association. These were the first man-made fats introduced into our diets. Even though scientists began to prove 20 years ago that trans fats are harmful to our health, there are many products still containing trans fats on the shelves of your grocery store.

If you still feel entirely comfortable about that list of words on the label that you can’t read, take a look at the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which states that its own list of Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS) only “contains ingredients added directly to food that FDA has either approved as food additives or listed or affirmed as GRAS [Generally Recognized As Safe]. Nevertheless, it contains only a partial list of all food ingredients that may in fact be lawfully added to food, because under federal law some ingredients may be added to food under a GRAS determination made independently from the FDA. The list contains many, but not all, of the substances subject to independent GRAS determinations.” In short, there is no way that a consumer can know for sure what has been added to processed food.

July is a great month to make a change in your dietary habits and get a better idea of what is in your food. Maryland has a bountiful supply of local food. Check out sources at Maryland’s Best website, invest in a share of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm or visit a farmers market.


July 19-27 also happens to be the week to Take the Buy Local Challenge. This year’s twist is to “Take the Challenge to the EXTREME”. Join me in eating something local every meal. Now that takes planning which is why I am posting this blog 9 days in advance.

No excuses! You can even practice ahead of time!

Don’t be a Star Trek foodie. Be in more control of what you eat by eating local food from farmers you trust and help build our local economy at the same time.