Where do you imagine your food comes from, if you even think about it before you eat it? My first thoughts are gardens, trees, and farms- but if we are truly being honest with ourselves it probably comes from a factory not much unlike that of Willy Wonka. The delectable side dishes: Rice-A-Roni, Hamburger Helper and frozen seasoned vegetables etc… are by-products of food. Based in part from food, with some parts from a “farm” but then others, the seasoning that keeps you coming back for more, is some concoction of hydrolyzed, extracted, partially hydrogenated additives from “all natural” sources. Don’t get too excited about the toted “derived from natural sources” slogan, natural doesn’t in fact mean natural it only means that it at one point in time had to come from a natural source and then that chemical can be extracted and manipulated just as easily as the artificial counterpart as defined from the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:
“These chemicals can come from either natural or synthetic sources. Chemicals from natural sources become natural flavoring, while synthetic chemicals make artificial flavoring. The legal distinction between the two types of flavoring is clear: Natural flavors must be derived strictly from “a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products”
There is no farmer involved in this process and the food doesn’t taste THAT good all on its own, there is in fact a mad scientist aka flavorist or food scientist combining the exact perfect match of chemicals to please your palate behind the scenes. There are literally thousands upon thousands of chemicals tested and combined through trial and error to trick you tongue and taste buds into craving Doritos over the generic brand, preserving your Twinkies so they will taste the same now, tomorrow, and forever, and giving your salad dressing the same texture and consistency in every bottle. Some rats had to pay a handsome fee to make sure these foods were considered safe for our consumption. With that said, a few additives to avoid at all costs:
1. Artificial Sweeteners- In short artificial sweeteners are bad. Aspartame, sold under the name Nutrasweet and Equal, have been linked to studies causing cancer in lab animals and associated with a long list of maladies: multiple sclerosis, headaches, seizures, depression, diabetes etc… the old saying “if it’s too good to be true, then it is,” applies here. If you crave carbonated beverages then be willing to pay the price the sugar load, you’re better off and will probably think twice before grabbing a can if you know there’s some 40 plus grams of sugar in it… I might even go out on a limb here and say enjoy beverages with high fructose corn syrup before you opt for the diet or sugar free drink.
Which brings me to my next no-no…
2.High Fructose Corn Syrup– HFCS is found in just about everything, it wasn’t always this way, but the government started to subsidize corn and then there was just so much of it that we needed places to put it so we put it through a chemical process to make it viable for other uses. HFCS is in bread, cereal, drinks, maple syrup (really everything)… regardless of the debate surrounding the sap, studies show your body metabolizes the sugar differently then other sugars it goes straight to your liver just like alcohol and is associated with non fatty liver disease (which has increased with the introduction of the chemical sugar), we just don’t need that much sugar. America’s consumption in sugar has increased by 28% since 1983. Your brain responds to sugars like it does drugs- it’s that addictive.
3. Monosodium Glutamate– You’ve heard of sweet, salty, bitter and sour when it comes to your taste sensations but have you heard of umami? MSG has its very own category! MSG is a known an excitotoxin, which basically means it excites your cells to death and damages them. What more do you need to know to avoid this stuff. Oh and by the way there are approximately 40 different names that MSG can be listed as on the ingredient label.
Unfortunately this list could get long so I’ll stop with #4
4. Bromide– Bromide is picked up by the thyroid, you’re thyroid is not meant to absorb this compound, it’s meant to absorb iodine which plays a major role in your body. You can find it in bread, soda, pasta, flour, plastics, fire retardants, and well that should be enough it’s found in plastic and fire retardants and we eat it. If your body cannot absorb iodine this can mess with your thyroid levels… you may have recently heard Gatorade is eliminating this ingredient from there Gatorade line- consumer pressure works, vote with your dollars.
Apart from being bad for our health it’s sad that we tinker with animals and our environment to enjoy some grub- these additives have some serious bite!