Doctor: "Cleaner" food means cleaner bills of health

(Source: WIS)
(Source: WIS)

Perhaps the adage "The Good Old Days" should apply to groceries, restaurants and other resources where we buy and consume food.

"What we're doing here is copying what a lot of our grandfathers did a few generations ago," Emile DeFelice said, describing the goals of his Caw Caw Creek pig farm in Calhoun County.

In a quest to eat the healthiest foods, we found it goes far beyond trusting the claims on a package.

DeFelice says clean eating starts long before we ever reach the supermarkets.

"What we try to do here at Caw Caw Creek is emulate their natural life. So, what I call that is a managed wild system," DeFelice said.

DeFelice's sirty pigs are clean, meaning they are free-range, hormone, and anti-biotic free, and treated humanely.

"They need good corn which is grown right down the street from here.  And they need fresh grass which they have plenty of," DeFelice said.

DeFelice chooses not to raise his pigs on a commercial or factory farming scale, saying it's better for the pig and the consumer.

"They take up CLAs and Omega 3s just like a salmon in the river or something by eating nice grass like this," DeFelice said.

For a long time, consumers could only go to specialty grocery stores for products with no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and all the other additions clean eaters don't want.

Dr. John Robinson works in the emergency room at Palmetto Health Baptist.

"If you read a food package label, it's really scary when you look at some of the names of things in there," Robinson said. It's like good night, what is that?"

As an advocate for health, Robinson reminds us garbage in, garbage out.

"There's a lot of potential there in what we're putting in our bodies, in the form of preservatives, the chemicals, and the dyes and stuff could seriously be causing long-term problems," Robinson said.

Clean eaters believe foods like these not only mean you lose weight, but can greatly reduce the chances of cancer.

"I don't think there's enough knowledge out there to say 'definitely,' but I think we're seeing more evidence of that," Robinson said.

Retailers know there is a growing market for clean eating. Construction is full speed ahead on the new Whole Foods grocery store opening on the southeast side of Columbia.

More "clean" restaurants are opening like M Fresh in downtown Columbia where an emphasis is put on fruits, salads and vegetables, as well as teas that boast of powerful antioxidants to lower cholesterol and fight disease.

The Good Life Cafe in West Columbia opened with a menu of completely raw, organic and gluten-free items. Only freshly squeezed juices, smoothies and salads and anything raw and healthy will be served here.

Near the Hamilton-Owens Airport in Columbia is City Roots, an in-town sustainable farm. The growers say their vision is to produce clean, healthy, sustainably grown products while educating the community about the benefits of locally grown food, composting, and other environmentally-friendly farming.

And there are more fresh fruit and vegetable delivery services like Brown Box Veggies, which is now serving the greater Richland and Lexington County areas.

"If you put good fuel in, you're going to get good results from that," Robinson said.

Clean eating takes effort and may be considered extreme by some, but those who choose it have nothing to lose. Well, except for maybe the bad stuff.

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