Catering Food With Care

Last week it was my Son’s birthday and we planned to take the kids for a picnic to the lakeside park. We decided to make a salad and pack some sandwiches & drinks for the picnic. We prepared the sandwiches at night and took along with us for the morning trip. By mid-day we were at the lake. As we spread the sheets on the grass the kids felt hungry and demanding food. As I opened the basket I smelt something weird.

The sandwiches with chicken filling was giving out unpleasant smell. The food had gone bad. To our good fortune we figured out that it had gone bad and decided not to eat it. Such instances happen with each one of us in our day to day life. We often prepare food at home and then take it somewhere else to be eaten. A lot of people cater from home and supply food to people. As the person preparing or handling the food, it is your responsibility to make sure your food does not make the guests ill. Food poisoning is a miserable and potentially dangerous experience.

You will need to take extra care if any young children, pregnant women, older people or anyone who is ill will be coming to the function. This is because if anyone in these vulnerable groups gets food poisoning, they are more likely to become seriously ill. In spite of using fresh ingredients to prepare food, it goes bad so soon. Let’s figure out what really went wrong?

The most common errors which lead to food poisoning are:

Poor storage of Food
Cold foods not kept cold enough or hot foods hot enough
Inadequate cooking
Not separating raw and ready-to-eat food

Food contamination can happen at any stage be it cooking, transportation and even storage. Inappropriate storage is often reported as the cause of food poisoning outbreak. Food is left unrefrigerated for prolonged period which makes it prone to bacteria infestation. If you are planning to prepare food for a large group ensure that you have an appropriate sized refrigerator and freezer to store food and you use proper wrapping paper and bags to store food.

Raw food and Ready to eat food should never be stored together. This increases the risk of bacterial activity.

Cooked foods that need to be chilled should be cooled as quickly as possible, preferably within an hour. Avoid putting them in the fridge until they are cool, because this will push up the temperature of the fridge. To cool hot food quickly, place it in the coolest place you can find – often not in the kitchen. Another way is to put the food in a clean, sealable container, and put it under a running cold water tap or in a basin of cold water, or use ice packs in cool bags. Where practical, reduce cooling times by dividing foods into smaller amounts.

Once the food is prepared, getting it to where the function is being held can be a problem. This can be particularly difficult when there are large quantities of perishable food involved. Use cool boxes. You will also need to check that the facilities at the place where the function is being held are adequate for keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Adequate fridge and cooker capacity there is just as important as in the home.

Cooking food thoroughly is the key to killing most of the harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning. Large meat joints or whole poultry are more difficult to prepare safely, so take special care with them.After having learnt all this I realized why the picnic food got spoilt. I let the chicken sandwiches out unrefrigerated for way too long and I did not care to separate salads and ready to eat food. I could have used cool box for transporting the food. But I guess we all learn from our bad experiences.

Food To Body, Nutrition To Health

Health depends to a large extent on nutrition, and nutrition on food. Food, in fact, is the most important single factor in connection with the attainment and maintenance of health. Every drop of blood in the body is conditioned by the food we eat and it is on blood that every tissue, every organ, every gland, and indeed every function of the body fundamentally depends.

By food is meant any material taken into the system that serves to sustain normal bodily processes. It is fallacy of our times to regard that anything and everything called food is good for health.

For any substance to be properly regarded as human food it must be capable of supplying the body with the material needed for the repair of body tissues and maintenance of various functions, while at the same time doing no harm to the body and in no way interfering with its activities. Food in order to replenish the body, therefore, must be food, so in selecting food make sure first that it is really food. We must live on truly nutritious food and not on anything generally considered as food.

To be healthy and in good condition, it is imperative to eat natural, wholesome food making sure that the food supply is in proper proportion and of a character or quality suitable for protecting the body. The chemical elements of the body combine to make brain, muscles, nerve, blood, skeletal tissue and body secretions. The elements of food are spoken of as nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, mineral salts and water. These are often called foodstuffs, indicating that they are stuff from which food is made.

One of the really difficult problems for the present generation is that much of our food no longer reaches us from the field, garden or orchard in the normal state as nature prepared it, to meet man’s nutritional needs. Such foods are now very largely collected and taken on the large commercial centres, where they are altered, preserved, pickled, denatured, cooked, sterilized, pasteurized – thus deprived of their most vital elements. Whatever is left which will stand over long distances transportation and keep indefinitely is sold to us in place of the original things which nature provided as food. Such denatured substances have no nutritive value and are far from being satisfactory substitute for natural foods.

By natural food we mean food as provided by Nature containing all the elements, and not flavoured or doctored or devitalized by man. No form of life can be supported wholly upon laboratory products and man is no exception to the fundamental law.

Few people understand the true meaning of natural foods. For they have been fed from childhood on unnatural, artificially prepared and manufactured foodstuffs which are detrimental to the normal functioning of the digestive organs and gradually impair our health. Our food is generally spoilt even before it is gathered.

Plants and trees often suffer from deficiency or excess of certain elements in the soil. Apart from growing mineral starved food we find that much of it is totally altered in composition. Millers have learnt to take from our grain the surrounding skin, the bran, which is extremely rich in health-giving elements, in mineral substances and vitamins.

Many people live largely on denatured, artificial foods. In ever increasing numbers people live on preserved foods. In order to make these artificial foods more attractive to consumers they are dyed with chemical dyes and flavours added. Thus men are made to subsist on scientific abominations totally unfit for the consumption of man or beast. We eat these foods because they are attractive to the eyes and to the palate and are very convenient because they can easily be prepared for the table.

These devitalized and demineralized foods lower the vitality and sap the health of the people who thereby fall a prey to various diseases and epidemics.

On top of it refrigerated, devitalized, denatured and manufactured foodless foods are relished and consumed day in and day out. Yet another menace is pesticides and spraying of vegetables, fruits, and in farms has been taking a heavy toll in the form of organic and blood diseases and even cancer.

We are living in a polluted world. There is poison in the air we breathe, poison in the food we eat and poison in the water we drink. Where does it all lead to? “Back to nature” is obviously not the solution to this tragic problem. A revision to the diet of primitive man is not a viable proposition but we could try and give preference to foodstuffs which retain their full natural properties and elements without which one cannot expect radiant health and resistance to external influences and diseases.

Natural food properly selected, scientifically combined, and judiciously administered has true remedial value and can cure disease by supplying the proper saline elements in organic form. These organic mineral elements in food preserve the tissues from disorganization and form putrefaction. These vitalizing minerals, salts and vitamins are vital to health, ward off disease and premature old age.

The degeneration of the human race has been brought about by the departure from its natural foods. The only basis of possible regeneration is a return to it.

It is undoubtedly true that our eating habits depend upon our economic status as well as the availability of foods. But it is equally true that beliefs, customs, traditions and prejudices influence our food habits much more than we realize. The general food beliefs of any community are a social product deeply entrenched in the minds of the community and practiced almost like a faith. These beliefs, therefore, significantly influence the nutritional status of these population groups, and become a force to reckon with in any nutrition programme.

Sir Robert Mc Carrison said, “The single factor in the acquisition and maintenance of good health is perfectly constituted food which consists particularly milk, milk products, whole grain cereals, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables.” These are called protective foods as they protect you against disease and epidemics. He adds that most people do not get enough of protective foods and their diet is therefore incomplete and results ultimately in disease.

Science today is finding in its researches a conglomeration of the truths uttered by Nature Cure pioneers many decades ago.

When studying and discussing food in its relation to the basic or fundamental principles:

 

  1. We must know what primary elements enter into the composition of the body.
  2. We must have knowledge of the chemical contents of our food.
  3. We must know how to combine food correctly in a meal from the standpoint of the chemistry of digestion.
  4. We must have a correct understanding of the relation food actually has to the body.
  5. We must understand the principles of alkaline and acid forming foods in their chemical reaction on the body.
  6. We must have a correct conception and understanding of the function of metabolism or the “science of nutrition.”

 

Dry or Wet Dog Food: Which Is Better?

Have you been feeding dry dog food to your dog only because you were told that it prevented tarter and dental disease? Do you feel guilty when you add canned food because of the harm that it may cause? Dry food does not prevent dental disease and wet or canned food does not cause dental problems. Each type of dog food has its own benefits and drawbacks. A combination of wet and dry combines the best of both foods.

The Dog’s Unique Feeding Style

The belief that dry food prevents dental disease is derived from the belief that chewing causes abrasion on the tooth surfaces to prevent or shave off tarter. And that is true, but dogs do not chew their food! Anyone who has witnessed or stepped in dog vomit knows that the vomit looks just like the food, just wetter.

As pack animals, dogs killed and feasted in very competitive groups. Individuals tore flesh from the carcass swallowed and then repeatedly dove back into the frenzy for more. Taking the time to chew would have meant less food and possibly starvation.

This feeding habit has not changed in our modern dogs. Examination of a modern dog’s mouth reveals that they share the same sharp, pointed teeth of their flesh eating ancestors. They grab, maybe crunch once, swallow and grab again. No abrasive cleaning action of the teeth takes place during a meal.

Dental Tarter and Food Type

Wild dogs and cats don’t eat any dry food. Studies show that they have less dental tarter than pets fed commercial food, wet or dry. The fact is that dental disease is more complicated than what type of food is eaten. Dental hygiene is less dependent on diet and more dependent on routine care. Regular teeth brushing and availability of hard chew toys has a greater impact on dental health than the type of food. Owners can be comforted that they can feed how they want without guilt.

Dry Dog Food

The major benefits of dry food are convenience and price. Open the bag and scoop, no mess. This makes traveling with a dog much easier. It is also very inexpensive compared to wet food. A 50lb dog can be fed for as low as 13 cents a day.

The major drawbacks of dry food are its quality and the reluctance of dogs to eat it when they are ill.

All ingredients of dry food are put in huge pressure cookers and turned into a liquid at high temperatures. This means any form of protein, carbohydrate or fat can be used. That is why this method is perfect for using meat, grain and processed food scraps as well dead, decayed animals rather than real cuts of meats and whole grains and vegetables.

After the hot slurry reaches the proper time and temperature it is injected through super-heated extruders. As the liquid leaves the extruders the cold air causes it to “pop” into various shapes depending on the mold of the extruder exit. The dry kibble is then sprayed with oil and vitamins before bagging to replenish some of the nutrients lost in this double heat process.

Dry kibble will not “pop” without sufficient carbohydrates. That is why dry dog food tends to be lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates than wet or canned food.

Although dogs eat their dry food when they are healthy, they often refuse to eat it when they feel ill. The refusal to eat can lower their nutritional status and ability to heal. This downward spiral often leaves these dogs very fragile when they are finally taken to the vet. Would you eat shredded wheat without milk if you were sick?

Canned Dog Food

The major benefits of canned food are taste and quality. Only rarely will sick dogs refuse to eat canned food. When wet food is mixed with dry food, dogs eat more heartily. The larger variety of flavors of canned foods allows for more diversity in the diet. Canned food is generally higher in protein than dry food. With canning, ingredients are cooked in the sealed can so nutrients are not lost during the heating process.

A major drawback of wet food is that it is more expensive than dry food. Also many owners object to the smell of canned food and dislike storing partial cans in the refrigerator. And certainly opening a can is more complicated than scooping from a bag.

Why Not Feed Both?

Since food is not a culprit in dental disease, why not spice up your dog’s diet with a combination of canned and dry food? Using the wet enhances the quality, flavor and enthusiasm for mealtime. Adding the dry reduces food costs. Everybody wins. Having wet food available can help maintain your dog’s appetite during illness.

Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Foods: Which Is The Better Method for Long Term Survival Food Storage

The Process of Freeze-Drying
Freeze-drying is a complex process of preserving fresh or already-cooked food by removing up to 98% of the food’s moisture, leaving intact the food’s texture, flavor, aroma and nutritional value.

The process requires that the fresh or cooked food be quickly frozen at temperatures as low as -50°C. The frozen food is then placed into a vacuum chamber. This vacuum chamber lowers the pressure, and raises the temperature to just about 0°C.

At this specific temperature and pressure, the ice crystals in the food evaporate into water vapor, bypassing water’s liquid form, through a process called sublimation.

This process preserves the cell structure and nutritional content of the food, resulting in a product that, when rehydrated, very closely resembles the original food.
The process also prevents the water from being reabsorbed by the food and thus decreases its weight significantly.

Most food items such as fruits, vegetables and meats are well-suited to freeze-drying, and can be used for long-term food storage and preservation.

The Process of Dehydration
Dehydrating food is a food preservation method which has been used for centuries. Native Americans dehydrated their buffalo kills in their hunting camps to make it simpler to transport. Pemmican (a dehydrated concoction of buffalo meat mixed with fat and berries) was a staple of many of the nomadic North American tribes. This low-heat dehydration process involved either air drying (with nearby campfires), or sun drying strips of meat on drying racks.

Dehydrators are a modern method for slowly removing the moisture from food without actually cooking it. A drawback of dehydration is the limited amount of food which can be dried at one time. The positive aspect of dehydration is that this method of processing for food storage can be easily done at home.

How Do These Two Methods Affect the Food?
Freeze-dried foods preserve much of the original color, shape, aroma and freshness of fruits, vegetables and meats. Freeze-dried food does not usually contain additives or preservatives, so it remains true to its original form. And the look, texture and flavor of the food remains after re-hydration.

Unlike low-heat dehydration, freeze-drying allows for the preservation of pre-cooked meals, including recipes such as soups, stews, stroganoff, and the like. An obvious benefit is that since the meal was prepared in its entirety prior to freeze-drying, all you need to do is simply add water, then heat for a few minutes in order to create sumptuous meals.

Rehydrating freeze-dried food takes just a few minutes, simply by adding boiling water. Some foods, like many fruits and vegetables, need no re-hydration before eating.

Dehydrated foods shrink during processing as the moisture is removed. So the food item itself is considerably smaller than its original size.

The re-hydration time of dehydrated foods takes a bit longer than freeze-dried, but it stills tastes like the original form of the food. Some dehydrated foods contain added ingredients to enhance flavors or assist in preservation. As with freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, dehydrated fruits and vegetables can be eaten without any re-hydration.

Both methods of food preservation increase the long-term storage life of food. Most commercially produced freeze-dried and dehydrated foods have a shelf life of 15 to 20 years, if properly packaged and stored in a cool, dry environment.

In addition to their being a reliable source of food in an emergency or long-term survival scenario, because of their light weight and ease of portability, these foods are also great for taking on camping, hiking and hunting trips. They are also a wise choice to keep in an emergency road-side kit for the car, or in your bug out bag.

If you choose to keep these foods in your car as part of an emergency kit, please remember to rotate them periodically. Temperatures in a car can reach extremes, both hot and cold. High heat as well as continuous temperature fluctuations contribute to quicker degradation of both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.

Which Type is Better for Consumption?
Everyone is different, and each person has their own personal tastes and preferences. With that in mind, there are a few things to consider before making a decision between freeze-dried or dehydrated food.

Home-grown fruits and vegetables are better preserved via dehydration, since the average person cannot afford the costly machinery used in freeze-drying.

Foods used in everyday cooking and meal preparation should probably be freeze-dried. This permits the food to be quickly re-hydrated as it is cooked prior to serving. If accessibility and portability are important, than either type of preserved food should meet those particular needs. Once again, it’s a matter of personal preferences.

In a nutshell, both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods are excellent choices for long-term food storage, as well as for daily use or for hiking, camping, etc. They both provide light-weight, portable, convenient foods. The primary difference is that freeze-dried foods tend to better preserve the shape, texture and flavors of the original food.

Most people will find that a combination will work best for their needs. Single-item foods such as vegetables, potatoes, and other staples and grains are well-suited to low-heat dehydration. Freeze-drying is more appropriate for meats and fruits (whose texture can be preserved), and for pre-cooked meals with a variety of ingredients such as soups, stews and sauces.

As you incorporate freeze-dried and dehydrated foods into your lifestyle, whether for camping and recreation, convenience, or as a survival strategy, you will learn which items you prefer to be dehydrated, and which you prefer to be freeze-dried. In either case, be assured that your choices will offer the peace of mind of knowing that you have a reliable source of food in virtually any situation.