Access to Healthy Foods to Maintain a Healthy Diet


Simon D. Murray, MD: When it comes to fruits and vegetables, do you think that organic vegetables and fruits matter?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: To some extent. There is an organization called the EWG [Environmental Working Group], and they put out a report every single year called the “Dirty Dozen.” They show the top 12 fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticides. These are the ones you’d probably want to try to get as organic, if you can, and then the other ones, you don’t have to worry so much about those. There’s a new list every year. It’s usually pretty similar, but it’s a nice guide to go by so that you don’t have to waste your money trying to get organic. This is especially helpful for people who are on budgets.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yes.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: But then you do want to try to move toward the more organic ones that are on that list.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yes. And I guess you want to buy meats that are less likely to be adulterated with antibiotics and hormones?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Correct.

Simon D. Murray, MD: I’ve read that the major source of antibiotics that we get is from food, from meat, actually.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes.

Simon D. Murray, MD: That’s the major dose we’re getting.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes. The good news is that it’s become such an issue. It’s so well-known now about the effects of food on the body, and those types of things, like the hormones and the antibiotics and conventional meats, that many regular grocery stores are carrying these more organic or grass-fed or pastured versions of meats and chicken, and at more affordable prices.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Is it true that farm-raised salmon is dyed pink?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes.

Simon D. Murray, MD: That’s true.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes.

Simon D. Murray, MD: When farm-raised salmon are hatched, they’re white. I believe the meat is white?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes.

Simon D. Murray, MD: When oranges are dyed a little bit orange, and apples may be dyed a little bit red….

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes, sometimes you never know what they’re doing to them.

Simon D. Murray, MD: They’re so perfect, you know?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes. So sometimes if it’s not perfect looking, it might be healthier.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yes. Do you think that a solution for older people might be to get food services, to hire a food service to bring prepared foods, frozen foods, for a week or something like that so that they could put the food in the freezer?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Sure, absolutely.

Simon D. Murray, MD: What would be a downside to that?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Well, it depends on if they can do something—if there’s a budget issue and they can do something economically or not. Even in this area, there’s a company called Chefs for Seniors. They have people come into the home. They’ll prepare a certain meal for a certain amount of days and help put it in the freezer for you. But you know, there’s a fee to that. But then there’s also better, healthier frozen entrées that people can bring in.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Could you make a recommendation about a frozen entrée someone could buy in the grocery store?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: There’s a newer one out by EatingWell magazine. I don’t know if anybody’s familiar with that, but it’s a pretty popular food and health magazine. They have a new line of frozen foods out. One of the things that I like about it is that they include a whole cup of vegetables in every meal, which is extremely unusual in a frozen meal. I believe you can find those in most supermarkets now.

Simon D. Murray, MD: I think this has come a long way since TV dinners.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes, exactly.

Simon D. Murray, MD: But I have often recommended that to people, that they buy those prepared meals. First of all, they know how many calories they’re getting. Secondly, the nutritional information is on the package, sodium content, etcetera.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes.

Simon D. Murray, MD: And they’re balanced, typically.

Transcript edited for clarity.

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