Adventures in Grocery Shopping: When Food Isn’t Food (Part 2)
Here are a few more examples in the (ever-growing) ‘Food Not Fit to Eat’ category.
In the endless array of hidden ingredients lurking in grocery stores and restaurants across the land, Truthstream Media embarked on another minor adventure in trying to sift through the confusion in search of real food.
Previously, we encountered artificial honey marketed towards diabetics (even though it’s glycemic index is almost as high as regular sugar), secret sauces loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), as well as price incentives to encourage consumers to buy bleached products over non-bleached ones.
Moreover, as informed consumers educated about the risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), we have challenged hidden genetically-modified (GM) ingredients at Whole Foods, the leading (and premium-priced) ‘organic’ grocer, and increasingly we have discovered cost-effective organic options at regular grocers amidst many other foods generally not fit for consumption.
At the same time, numerous staples of the heavily-marketed Standard American Diet are known to contain genetically modified ingredients and/or include numerous heavily processed and artificial ingredients that negate any nutritional quality these foods otherwise held. In just one case study, we found out more than we bargained for with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Accessing real food is possible, but it will require each of us to unlearn what we have learned and make an effort towards rediscovering nutrition and sustenance. Just a few examples have been our experiments with bone soup and sprouts.
In that vein, and in order to better make ourselves and our readers aware of issues in our foods, we are continuing to explore, albeit it randomly, some of the items generally available on a grocery store shelf near you in this second part to our series.
Do You Know What’s in Your Tuna?
Pro Tip: It’s more than just tuna.
Most are familiar with the basic choice of canned tuna in water or oil.
But for many brands, it is now common to include an unspecified vegetable broth with the “in water” varieties. The only clear indication of what might be contained in that broth is the allergy warning that its ingredients include soy.
The biggest problem with this, apart from the fact that you may want or think you are buying just tuna with as little else as possible, is that 94% of soy grown in the United States in 2011 was genetically-modified according to USDA numbers.
This effectively means that nearly all soy not specifically marked as “organic” or “non-GMO” is almost certainly genetically-modified — a risky endeavor which most American consumers are not even aware they are engaged in. Worse, GM soy, GM corn, GM cottonseed oil and GM canola are common hidden ingredients in all manner of popular canned and boxed foods on store shelves. There are no laws that require GMO ingredients be labeled, so if your family isn’t making a deliberate effort to avoid them, they are probably consuming them.
Canned tuna, like other canned items, very likely also contains bisphenol A (BPA), a hormonal disruptor that can trigger cancer, shift glandular activity and cause a long list of other health problems.
Even the most seemingly simple purchases — tuna in water — can contain more. What’s written on the front of many products does not match the labels on the back.
Watch for hidden ingredients and read all your labels — for your sake, and the health of those you love.
A Reading of the Ingredients: Cool Whip
Thousands of typical, processed packaged foods on store shelves are loaded with what might be termed as ‘what the *#%#$ is it?’ ingredients developed in labs for purposes including preservation and extended shelf life, flavor enhancement, imitation, cohesiveness and presentation/appearance.
Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation exposes in part how manmade chemicals are fine-tuned in factories just off of the New Jersey turnpike to produce the flavors and smells many Americans have learned to love — at the unadded cost of eating a compounding number of artificial foods and industrial food byproducts.
In just one example among hundreds, Cool Whip, a popular dairy-like dessert topping, contains a plethora of barely-pronounceable ingredients, and neither cream nor milk is anywhere near the top of the list. In addition to already established concerns over high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which the industry attempted to rename “corn sugar” to avoid stigma, the product also contains polysorbate 60 (a common thickening agent) as well as sodium caseinate.
Polysorbate 60 is a manmade chemical combination of sorbitol and stearic acid, sterilized with ethylene oxide (a known carcinogen) — none of which sounds like anything anyone should put in their mouth. Not exactly nature’s nectar, the common emulsifier has been found to contain 1,4-Dioxane, an ingredient the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has linked with cancer in animal studies.
While the Food and Drug Administration has softly suggested food companies remove the ingredient, without actual mandatory compliance, many companies have opted to just keep it in. Polysorbate 60 has also been linked to tumor formation and reproductive issues in high dose usage.
Sodium Caseinate is derived from casein, a protein occurring in cow’s milk. It is a major component of commercial cheese products and industrial food additives.
Casein can contribute to allergens, specifically: “casein breaks down to produce the peptide casomorphin, which acts primarily as a histamine releaser and contributes to allergic reactions.” This becomes important for those with allergens to the common cheese derivative/ingredient, as research has found that it can aggravate/inflame autism and digestive disorders, placing it on the autoimmune watch list.
More to the point, one blogger completed what he referred to as the “Horrifying 12-Day Cool Whip Experiment”, demonstrating the lack of decomposition present in this and other chemically-derived foods. To the contrary, Jonathan Fields discovered that, “After Day 12, I finally got the guts to touch it and found that it had begun to harden into a plastic-like substance.”
The Challenge of Affording ORGANIC
Consumers have shown that they’re willing to pay extra for organic meats and produce, but will the high cost squeeze working families out of accessing healthy foods? It remains a difficult question, and until more demand GMO-free, responsible food in mass, it will be a challenge for ordinary people…but we can make the right choices with some effort!
(Sorry for the horrible wind noise of the meat case!)
By the way, in this specific case, while the “all natural” chicken may have many benefits over the other tightly-caged, factory farm offerings at the grocery store, including free-range chickens free of growth hormones and antibiotics, the claim of ‘all vegetarian feed’ is likely hiding a diet steady with GMO corn/soy and/or other grain. The best chicken feed may include some grain, but includes access to worms/bugs/insects and other random small animals.
With these examples to think about, learn from and further research, we leave you until another episode of Adventures in Grocery Shopping: When Food Isn’t Food!