What’s summer without burgers and hot dogs on the barbecue?!!
When I was a child, we used to have watermelon seed spitting contests. That’s when there were still seeds in the watermelon. Whatever happened to those seeds, anyway? Do you notice how there are always a couple in every watermelon still? Nature always finds a way.
Well, the days of simple, unplugged entertainment like that may have faded away, but family barbecues and hot dog eating contests certainly have not.
With 4th of July coming up, many hot dogs will be consumed this holiday weekend. While I don’t eat them very often, once in a while I make an exception, mainly because I have a teenage son who needs a little more wiggle room when it comes to dietary choices. When I do, I am able to enjoy it without any guilt, because there are brands that rise way above the rest in terms of quality and purity. And they taste just as good as the popular, food additive laden brands.
Years ago, before I learned many of the things I sometimes wish I could “unlearn” concerning our food supply, I ate the occasional Ball Park or Hebrew National Beef Frank. I wish I had kept a food label from one of those packages from back then, because I’m pretty sure they didn’t contain as many additives and chemicals as they do now. Over the past 20 years, tried and true, REAL ingredients have been replaced by cheap, artificial alternatives. And a veil of secrecy has somehow made its invisible way around our food packages and labels.
It makes me want to say a certain “F” word to the food industry, but I will take the high road and simply tell them that they have FLUNKED the food audit. I don’t know how they passed their FINANCIAL audits deceiving the public the way many of the big companies have; focusing so much on the bottom line, while failing to disclose the gory details of the high level of toxins their products really contain. It sounds like the Wall Street fiasco. Or Enron. Seriously, on a much larger and deeper scale, because it affects our children and our planet.
Whoa! Sorry about that little rant. Let’s lighten it up a bit. Back to the hot dogs.
These days, there are many FAKE foods dressed up as REAL foods. Which 4 letter word describes YOUR hot dog? All you have to do is read the fine print.
Let’s see how those two brands stack up now, shall we?
According to the Ball Park web site, the ingredients for their beef franks are:
Hmmmm…..while we recognize the first two ingredients (one of them being factory farmed, pesticide laden beef), what about the rest? The third main ingredient is a fake GMO sweetener called corn syrup, and the list becomes unrecognizable from there. I don’t need to know what any of those additives are before I put that package DOWN!
If in doubt, leave it out…of your shopping cart. Your body doesn’t need any more toxins than it’s already exposed to on a daily basis.
Is this what we want our kids to be eating in ball parks across the country? Or in our homes? I think not. That’s why I really don’t think that Benjamin Franklin would feel comfortable with the fact that he’s pictured on the company’s beef franks promotion page. As if he would ever endorse a company that does not use truly natural ingredients! Such false advertising should be against the law.
Here’s the vast selection of hot dogs in my local supermarket, all with a very similar blend of ingredients.
So, let’s go to a brand that is trusted as being fit for Jewish consumption:, so much so that at my local supermarket the brand gets a special, dedicated refrigerated space right next to the deli: Hebrew National Beef Franks. According to the package on the site, the franks are made of 100% kosher beef, and contain no artificial colors, flavors, fillers, by-products, or gluten. Sounds good, right?
Let’s take a look at the fine print:
Beef, Water, Contains 2% or Less of: Salt, Sodium Lactate, Spice, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Paprika, Sodium Diacetate, Garlic Powder, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Flavorings.
Well, corn syrup is not listed as a main ingredient. That’s good, but as I mentioned above, conventional beef most likely is from cows that have been fed genetically modified, pesticide laden feed, and given antibiotics. And what about that less than 2%? Does it look more REAL than the Ball Park list? I’ll let YOU decide. Bottom line: if you eat these rarely, maybe you want to make an exception here, but eating them every day or week probably isn’t the best idea.
What does kosher really mean, anyway? It seems it focuses more on the type of meat, the part of the cow it comes from, and the method of slaughter that’s used. How the cattle are raised does not seem to be taken into account, probably because when the kosher guidelines were created, factory farms weren’t treating livestock so inhumanely and poisoning them with feed that makes them fat and sick.
From what I understand, the term “kosher” means “fit” in hebrew. So, is any type of factory farmed meat or genetically modified food really “fit” for human consumption? Would God really approve of such practices? That, my friends, is the REAL question here. Kosher rules really need to be reevaluated to take into account current farming practices in order to be truly authentic, don’t you think?
To me, the only truly “kosher” food is 100% organic, GMO free, food additive/chemical free, and truly natural, meaning no ingredients that don’t come straight out of nature. Outside of the Jewish definition for the term, it also is defined as “proper, legitimate,” and “genuine, authentic” by dictionary.com. Do factory farming practices really meet any of those definitions? I think not.
I am going to be bold here and make a strong statement: A factory farm is like a concentration camp for cattle and chickens. Stop and think about it for a moment, and you will realize how the two parallel each other. Plus the fact that pesticides came about right around World War 2, and are heavily used in the farming of genetically modified feed.
Guess what? Hebrew National is also owned by ConAgra foods, which is a strong supporter of genetically modified foods.
No matter what religion you believe in (or don’t), factory farming and the genetic modification of food is not in line with the laws of nature, and hence, is not acceptable to any higher authority at all.
Moving beyond the outdated “kosher” label, is there any label that takes the laws of nature, and the integrity of the ingredients, into account?
Yes, and no. You see, no matter what certification a product may have, you still need to look at the ingredients. BUT there are two such labels that give you a huge boost of confidence in the product and manufacturer. One is the USDA organic label, and the other is the NonGMO Project label. Either one will assure you that the product contains no genetically modified ingredients, but not that the meat didn’t come from a factory farm. That’s when you start looking for the words 100% grass fed beef or pastured poultry on the label, but at present, there is no certification for either. That’s a whole other story, and one I wrote about previously. Knowing your farmer is the only way to confirm that your meat and poultry is raised freely outdoors, eating the grass, weeds, and bugs, that they were meant to eat.
Where can you find organic, 100% grass fed beef hot dogs? Well, many stores now carry Applegate’s The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog. They are made from REAL, 100% grass fed, organic beef, and contain no antibiotics, gluten, casein, fillers, or food additives, and no added, artificial nitrites. Here’s the list of ingredients:
Anything you don’t recognize?
The only questionable ingredient is the organic spices, but at least we know they contain no pesticides or GMOs. Not sure why they didn’t itemize them, as they did for the other garlic, onion, paprika, and celery powder.
Once in a while, and certainly for a holiday celebration, these hot dogs are a delicious, REAL food based alternative to your average beef frank. You really can’t taste any difference! I welcome you to compare for yourself. They are available at Whole Foods and Trader Joes.
Please be aware that Applegate does sell “natural” products that may not be organic or grass fed.
If you know a pasture based farmer that makes his or her own, that’s even better! Here are some other options in Rodale’s article, The 9 Best Grassfed Beef Hot dogs. Applegate’s grass fed hot dogs and US Wellness Meats’ garlic hot dogs (on my list to try) are both on the list.
OR, skip the hot dogs completely and consider an even healthier option: go for the 100% grass fed burger. No extra ingredients in those! Wrap it with some romaine lettuce, instead of a bun, and there you have it! REAL farm-to-table food. Plain and simple.
I hope you have a REAL-ly safe, healthy, and happy July 4th, if you celebrate! The freedom to make informed food choices is worth fighting for, don’t you think?
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