what's hiding in your Spice Cupboard?

Around four years ago I started studying Holistic Nutrition through the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition. Life happened, I quit my day job and started my photography business, started teaching yoga full time and had a baby. My studies were pushed aside and I never completed the course. I was kind of torn up about it at first, but eventually accepted that I couldn't do everything at once and I would come back to it when the time was right.

But even though I didn't complete the course, I still learned a ton about my own diet and nutrition and what I wanted in my grocery list and what I didn't. That was the start of completely turning around the way we ate and grocery shopped.
Today when you look inside our fridge you'll find organic fruit and veggies (locally grown whenever possible), organic and high quality cheese and other dairy products, almond milk without the harmful additives and preservatives, all locally sourced meats and eggs, and blahbity blah, you get the point.

After I'd learned all about the garbage that is added into our "food" and how harmful it is, I just couldn't turn a blind eye anymore and I had no choice but to change. But one area of my kitchen I failed to improve upon was my spice cupboard. It's the one that always smells like oregano and other mystery odours. I actually hadn't thrown any old spices out... ever... like not since moving out of my parents. Gross right? As I got older and I became a better cook, spices (and good quality spices) became a big part of my cooking essentials. Thus needing more space in my narrow little cabinet.

I have to say I wasn't surprised to find plenty of unhealthy ingredients in that rarely re-organized cupboard. Not only unhealthy, but way too old to be considered good quality anymore. When was the last time you gave your spice cupboard a good ol' fashion clean sweep?

Here are some helpful tips for improving the health and quality of your spice cupboard.

Take everything out and give your cupboard a good wipe down.

Go through everything you took out. I went through and read every label and every time I found a suspicious ingredient I wrote it down and googled it. Anything that contained harmful additives went into the garbage.

Here's a short list of commonly found food additives you might find in your spice cupboard.

- (Aluminum) Calcium Silicate
- Magnesium Silicate
- Prussiate of soda, yellow
- Silicon Dioxide
- Sodium Aluminosilicate
- Acesulfame Pottassium
 - Monosodium Glutamate or MSG (more names: glutamic acid, glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, calcium glutamate, monoammonium glutamate, magnesium glutamate, natrium glutamate, yeast extract, anything hydrolyzed, any hydrolyzed protein, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, yeast food, yeast nutrient, autolyzed yest, gelatin, textured protein, soy protein, soy protein (concentrate), soy protein isolate, whey protein (concentrate), vetsin, ajinomto)

For a more in depth look at MSG check out this article by John Douilliard
Here's a great article on food additives if you're interested in learning more

Not everything in your cupboard will have a date on it but you can make some rough estimates following this best before guideline from womansday.com:

- ground spices (turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg) 2 - 3 years
- dried herbs (oregano, parsley, basil) 1 - 3 years
- seasoning blends 1 - 2 years
- whole spices (cloves, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns) 4 years
- seeds 4 years (except poppyseed and sesame which should be discarded after 2 years)
- extracts 4 years (except vanilla which should last forever apparently)

I did read a couple different articles that recommended some tighter guidelines and shorter dates than this, but personally I'm happy with these numbers.

Write down everything you throw out and make a point of replacing it. I was stuck needing chilli powder on several occasions, so annoying.


It's absolutely disgusting the amount of poison that gets put into our food, deliberately. If you've never read about food additives then I would highly recommend doing some research on it. You would be shocked to see the shit that ends up in our "food." Do yourself a favor and get familiar with some of the most common and most harmful food additives so you can spot them on the ingredients label when grocery shopping.


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