Know What's in Your Food

Promoting awareness and change about the food we eat, and where it comes from.

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They Put What In Twinkies?

Glue, leather treatment, and fertlizer treatment ingredients are all found right here…yuck. I will pass.

Do you really want one?

Do you really want one?


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The Truth About Orange Juice

Top Selling Orange Juice Brands

Are you one of millions of people who drink orange juice? Did you know that orange juice is not as “all natural” as orange juice companies make them out to be? Did you know that in the near future, oranges could come from genetically modified orange trees?

A carton of orange juice purchased at your local store might lead you to believe that there is nothing in the carton, but fresh squeezed oranges. After all, that is what they claim on the package.

tropican oj back of tropicana

Here is the short story of how orange juice is made:

Millions of oranges collected from different groves that contain several varieties of oranges. Oranges are also collected from different countries to meet the large number of oranges required to make orange juice. Oranges are squeezed and the oxygen is removed from the juice and stored in storage tanks for up to a year. This process removes the flavor of the oranges and it must be reintroduced when it is packaged into cartons and ready for sale. The flavor is reintroduced by adding “flavor packets” to ensure that the (year old) orange juice you are buying tastes just the same as the last carton your bought.

“But actually, there is an important stage in between that is an open secret in the OJ industry. After the oranges are squeezed, the juice is stored in giant holding tanks and, critically, the oxygen is removed from them. That essentially allows the liquid to keep (for up to a year) without spoiling– but that liquid that we think of as orange juice tastes nothing like the Tropicana OJ that comes out of the carton. (source)”

“When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor. Mexicans and Brazilians have a different palate. Flavor packs fabricated for juice geared to these markets therefore highlight different chemicals, the decanals say, or terpene compounds such as valencine.”

An ABC News article had this to say about America’s fresh squeezed orange juice flavor packets:

“But Alissa Hamilton, a former food and policy fellow at the Institute of Agriculture and Trade, said that modern technology is so “sophisticated” that these flavor pack mixtures “don’t exist in nature.” “They break it down into individual chemicals,” she said. “The flavor of orange is one of the most complex and is made up of thousands of chemicals.”  “They are fine-tuned so each company has its trademark flavor,” said Hamilton, who is author of the 2009 book, “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice.”.”

These flavor packets are not required by the FDA to be on the ingredient label.

You can watch a video from 60 minutes (here) to learn how these flavor scientists brag about creating a taste that is equal to addiction  to keep the consumer coming back for more.

“The formulas vary to give a brand’s trademark taste. If you’re discerning you may have noticed Minute Maid has a candy like orange flavor. That’s largely due to the flavor pack Coca-Cola has chosen for it. Some companies have even been known to request a flavor pack that mimics the taste of a popular competitor, creating a “hall of mirrors” of flavor packs. Despite the multiple interpretations of a freshly squeezed orange on the market, most flavor packs have a shared source of inspiration: a Florida Valencia orange in spring. (source)”

The future of orange juice….

Lower left carton reads "No GMO Florida's Natural Premium Orange Juice is squeezed from 100% Florida oranges grown with out the use of biotechnology." least for now.

Lower left carton reads “No GMO Florida’s Natural Premium Orange Juice is squeezed from 100% Florida oranges grown with out the use of biotechnology.” …at least for now.

According to an article published by the New York Times In July 2013, the president of southern Gardens Citrus, Ricke Kress, is in charge of two and half million orange trees that produce orange juice. Confronted with a disease called citrus greening, Mr. Kress, so far, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on producing genetically modified (GMO)orange  trees that would be resistant to citrus greening. Scientists are trying to create a GMO tree by using genes from a pig, a virus, and from a spinach plant. Mr. Kress has received  negative feedback from consumers and citrus growers. Some negative comments that should have been eye-opening to Mr. Kress:

“This isn’t like a bag of Doritos,” snapped another. “We’re talking about a raw product, the essence of orange.”

Mr. Kress was unmoved by such comments. He is anxious to get a GMO orange tree as quickly as possible.  So far the most successful experiment in producing a GMO tree comes from using DNA from a spinach plant. Mr. Kress is growing impatient with the time it will take to grow the GMO tree, produce fruit from the tree, and test the final product for quality and safety. He asked his research director Michael Irey,

“Isn’t there a gene,” Mr. Kress asked Mr. Irey, “to hurry up Mother Nature?”

“When some of the scientist’s promising trees got sick in their first trial, Mr. Kress agreed that he should try to improve on his results in a new generation of trees, by adjusting the gene’s placement. But transgenic trees, begun as a single cell in a petri dish, can take two years before they are sturdy enough to place in the ground and many more years to bear fruit.”

Fortunately, there isn’t such a gene for that at this time…. Mr. Kress chose to speed up the process by grafting branches from his experimental GMO spinach orange trees to existing orange trees.

“But visiting the field gave him some peace. In some rows were the trees with no new gene in them, sick with greening. In others were the 300 juvenile trees

with spinach genes, all healthy. In the middle were the trees that carried his immediate hopes: 15 mature Hamlins and Valencias, seven feet tall, onto which had been grafted shoots of Dr. Mirkov’s spinach gene trees. There was good reason to believe that the trees would pass the E.P.A.’s tests when they bloom next spring. And he was gathering the data the Agriculture Department would need to ensure that the trees posed no risk to other plants. When he had fruit, the

Food and Drug Administration would compare its safety and nutritional content to conventional oranges.”

The good news? When Mr. Kress first started out seeking GMO trees he gave little thought to the consumer. In the beginning of his quest he stated,

“And if the presence of a new gene in citrus trees prevented juice from becoming scarcer and more expensive, Mr. Kress believed, the American public would embrace it. “The consumer will support us if it’s the only way,” Mr. Kress assured his boss.”

As time went on, Mr. Kress has seen the organic moment grow and public awareness as the potential dangers of GMO’s. He now states,

“If we don’t have consumer confidence, it doesn’t matter what we come up with.”

Consumer confidence will be hard to gain with the use of GMO trees. The more consumers are  aware the less likely these big agriculture companies will want to use GMOs in our food. We have to create awareness and know what’s in our food. Please share this post with your friends and family.

Sources: ABC News, New York Times, Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, Christine Scott Cheng

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The Truth About Cereal

My sister-in-law shared this picture with me. I absolutely love it! Take a close look at this picture. These cereals are recognizable in the grocery store. Too bad the truth labeling in this photo doesn’t appear in the actual stores. My favorite has to be the Cereal Killer 🙂 What is yours?

Photo credit CC Crisp Culture

Photo credit CC Crisp Culture

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Otis Spunkmeyer Muffin….An Experiment

otis spunk

On May 7th 2013, I was given an Otis Spunkmeyer Muffin at the office. I had no intention of eating it, but I wanted to see how long the shelf life was for the muffin.  When I couldn’t find an expiration date, I became concerned and decided to call their customer service.

corn dogs Otis Spunkmyere

When I contacted customer service, they were very nice when they told me, they really couldn’t tell me when the muffin expires.  Otis Spunkmeyer customer service said the number that was stamped on the side of the muffin, indicated it was baked on February 12th 2013. Muffins are good for 1 year if they are kept frozen. However, once they are thawed they are only good for 35 days from the date they are thawed. They had no way to tell me when the muffin was thawed by the store that purchased them.

I decided to hang on to the muffin and see how long it would remain soft, mold free, and normal in appearance. It has been a little over three months since I have had the muffin  I (just like Otis Spunkmeyer customer service) am not sure when it was thawed.

I wondered what was in the muffin that would keep it looking “fresh” for so long.

otis ingredients

There are a lot of GMO’s and hidden forms of MSG, and at least one known carcinogen (caramel color), in this muffin. Propylen Glycol is found in antifreeze. I  focused on the potassium sorbate.  Potassium Sorbate is a preservative and according to a Turkish Study  It should be considered a genotoxic and mutagenic compound.  According to Science Center For The Public Interest it is regarded a generally safe. It is hard to tell what the real story of this preservative is. There are many foods that can contain potassium sorbate.  According to the Food Intolerance Net work, some of them include:

  • Breads (Flat breads & tortillas)
  • Bakery products such as cakes, pancakes, and waffles
  • Flour products such as fresh pasta and noodles
  • Cheese, Cream cheese, cottage cheese, cheese slices, cheese sticks
  • Reduced fat cheeses and spreads
  • Yogurts
  •  Some fruit juices
  • Fruit syrups, preserved figs, cherries
  • Margarines, spreads and dips

I am not sure how long the muffin  will remain “fresh” but I can tell you after three months, it is still going strong.  What is the long-term effect of GMOs, additives, preservatives, pesticides and herbicides after they accumulate, in the body, for 30 or 40 years? This little muffin just may give the Twinkie a run for its money when it comes to shelf life. Any “food'” that  can last as long as this muffin, I don’t regard as having generally safe ingredients.

Sources: Otis Spunkmeyer, Live Strong, Food Intolerance Network, Science Center For The Public Interest


Litte Shop Of Horrors… Supermarket Finds

corn dog frozen

It seems as though each time I go to the grocery store, I find an item, or two, that is utterly appalling. Today was no different. I know that most everyone knows corn dogs are not healthy, but allow me to vent for a moment about these corn dogs made by Foster Farms. I saw several people buying these in the store today. I can just see these being an after school treat for kids…it’s a thought that really bothers me 😦

First, a look at the front of the box

corn dog frozen

The first thing I notice is that they contain honey crunchy flavor….not honey, but honey crunchy flavor.  They are double dipped in “honey batter.” Foster farms is so proud of their “honey” claim they mention it three times on the front of the box. They use the clever marketing scam of ” No added hormones or steroids.”  Federal law prohibits the use of hormones and steroids to be added to chicken.  Factory farmers use antibiotics on chicken. You can read about factory farming by clicking here . This product boasts about being a good source of iron.

Now for a look at the ingredients

conr dog ingredients

  • Flour with the natural nutrients striped from it.
  • Added synthetic vitamins and minerals….which is  the only reason why it can be labeled as a good source of iron,
  • Yellow corn flour and yellow corn meal- probable GMO’s.
  • Soy Flour and soy bean oil – probable GMO’s.
  • Then there is the dried honey (at less than 2% of the make-up of the batter.)  Dried honey is never 100% pure honey. Dried honey is a processed food. It contains anywhere from 50-70% real honey, but yet Foster Farms advertises the word honey in three separate areas on the front of their box.
  • Artificial flavors- These are just that, artificial. They are made from chemicals in a lab. You can read my post on natural and artificial flavorings by clicking here.

Chemicals, processed honey, and GMO’s….and that’s just the batter!

Now  for a look at the frank.

  • Mechanically separated chicken Also known as , pink slime. You can watch a video about pink slime by clicking here.
  • Salt
  • Corn syrup solids- Sugar
  • Sodium Phosphate- A texturizer and shelf life extender (preservative).
  • Sodium Diacetate-  A fungicide and bacteriacide required for the pink slime.
  • Sodium Erythrobate- A preservative that has been known to cause: headaches, nausea, body flushing, generalized fatigue, gastritis, malaise, dizziness, light-headedness and hemolysis.
  • Sodium Nitrate- A known carcinogen and also is responsible for an increases risk for type 2 Diabetes.

I wonder how many people would buy this product if Foster Farms were to boast about what’s really in these corn dogs, like the way they boast about honey in their product.

Sources: Live Strong, Young Turks, Natural News

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What Does “Natural” And “All Natural” Mean On A Food Label

Red Angus Cow

Photo credit: kmitschke

From the FDA webiste:

“From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”

According to the USDA beef can be labeled as “All Natural” as long as it doesn’t contain artificial flavors, added colors or synthetic substances….after slaughter.  This means that the beef can be from cloned cows, or factory farm cows fed a diet of GMO’s, animal by-products, living in their own waste, and pumped full of antibiotics and hormones can still be considered, “All Natural” as long as it doesn’t take place after slaughter. They don’t have any requirements for the, “All Natural” claim prior to beef being slaughtered. That just doesn’t seem right, now does it?

PepsiCo just settled a class action lawsuit for its product, Naked Juice. Apparently, the product wasn’t so natural after all. In some cases it contained synthetic vitamins. Synthetic vitamins are made in chemical plants right along with plastics and other non-foods.  You can read about my post on synthetic vitamins here Not only did the juice contain synthetic vitamins, it also contained synthetic fiber. There is also the claim that  GMO’s were made to use the product. GMO’s are anything but natural.

nake juice protein zone mango juice all natural nake juice side panel naked juice ingredients

The label says “All Natural Fruit + Boost.” This label is  deceptive. It would be easy to believe it is an all natural product. The side panel shows what is in the boost artificial ingredients including synthetic vitamins.

Kashi (Parent company Kellogg’s) is also under fire for its claim of “all natural”  on its products. The lawsuit against Kashi is still in process.

I found these two questionable products on a quick trip the grocery store this evening.

Kraft sharp cheddar cheese natural ingredients for kraft sharp natural cheese

After seeing what you might expect to see in cheese there is also:

Added color from Annatto, potato starch, cellulose powder, calcium sulfate, natamycin.

Why is starch in any form in cheese? Cellulose powder is made from wood pulp, natamycin is an antifungal agent possibly coming from GMO’s. Calcium sulfate is a coagulant it can be from natural or synthetic sources.

promise land milk promise land milk ingredient

Contains: Milk, Sugar, Cocoa Processed with alkali. They used the word processed right on the ingredient label.

Corn starch another form of possible  GMO’s.

Carrageenan: has been linked to cancer.

Salt : Yuck…just what you want in chocolate milk, salt.

Dextrose: Another form of sugar derived from corn. Another possible form of GMO’s. 88% of all corn in the U.S. is genetically modified, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications report.

All natural doesn’t always mean what we think it should. The FDA is apparently soft when it comes to enforcing the weak guidelines it has put into place. It is up to us to read the labels and Know what’s in our food.

Sources : Natural Grocers, FDA, USDA, Live Strong, Organic Consumers Association


Synthetic Vitamins, Do You Really Need Them?

Viatmins on store shelf

I grew up on the carcinogen coast line around Freeport, Texas. The area was filled (and still is) with miles and miles of chemical plants. The air was often foul-smelling,  and you could often see controlled flames burning high in the sky from chemical plants. Many times when I would get ready to go to school in the morning, my parents would have to take a vinegar and water solution to wash off a relentless sticky film from the car windshield. I often wondered what they made in these chemical plants. I had heard rumors of things like napalm, agent orange and other dangerous chemicals. The chemical plants were, unfortunately, a way of life. They were like a giant elephant in the town that nobody wanted to talk about. Their vast metal drums and smoke-filled towers stretched over several towns. Most people didn’t talk about what was made in the chemical plants, and if they did, they would just complain that Dow or BASF was up to something again as they scrubbed their car windshields.  As a kid, I never felt comfortable about the chemical plants. I saw them as an environmental danger, even though I didn’t know to what extent. Several times hundreds of fish would wash up on the shores of the beach. Fish would wash up on the shore, the EPA would come out and test, and claim that everything was fine. I wasn’t buying it…..

English: Dow_Chemical_(Terneuzen), seen from t...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I read the book, Pandora’s Lunch Box. My heart skipped a beat when I read about vitamins being made a chemical plant in Freeport, Texas. Vitamins? Really? Fortunately, I have never been a big synthetic vitamin consumer. I was glad after doing a little research. I was amazed to see how many vitamins are made from chemical basis.  Here are a few of the most common vitamins.

Vitamin A-  Made from benezene, menthanol, petroleum esters, refined oils. 

Synthetic form of vitamin A- Acetate or Palmitate

Vitamin B-1 -Made from coal-tar derivatives, acetonitrole with ammonia, hydrochloric acid

Synthetic form of vitamin B-1 – Thiamine mononitrate,  Thiamine Hydrochloride

Vitamin B-6- Made from Petroleum ester and hydrochloric acid with formaldehyde

Synthetic form of vitamin B-6- Pyridoxine Hydrochloride

Vitamin B-12 cobalamins reacted with cyanide

Synthetic form of vitamin B-12- Cobalamin

Vitamin C – Hydrogenated sugar processed with acetone

Synthetic form of vitamin C- Ascobric Acid

Vitamin D- Irradiated animal fat/ cattle brains

Synthetic form of vitamin D- Irradiated Ergoesteral, Calciferol

Vitamin E- Trimethylhydroquinone with isophytol

Synthetic form of vitamin E- dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate

Some of these chemicals are made from chemical companies like BASF and Dow. I reviewed the BASF website here to see how they portray the vitamins they make. I think their heading says it all,” BASF- The Chemical Company”. In addition to vitamins here are some of the things, according to the BASF website, that they make in addition to vitamins:

“• Acrylic monomers: Acrylic acid and acrylic acid esters are used to produce surface coating raw materials and plastics such as paints and coatings, textiles, adhesives, nonwoven materials, polishes and waxes, caulks and sealant. Acrylic acid is also a key raw
material in the production of super absorbent polymers, which are used in diapers and
made in Freeport.
• Caprolactam: Cyclohexanone and hydroxylamine are produced as raw materials for
caprolactam, a precursor for Nylon-6. Some cyclohexanone is sold for use in such areas
as solvents in producing magnetic recording media and for use in industrial coatings. Most
of the Freeport production is used by the polycaprolactam plant to produce Nylon-6.
Ammonium sulfate is produced as a by-product and is sold for use in fertilizer.
• Polycaprolactam: The group produces Nylon-6 polymer resins, which are used in many
products such as carpet, apparel, food wrap and automotive products. Polycaprolactam is
also used in the plastics industry in film and monofilaments.
• Oxo Alcohol/Polyalcohols Group: Butanols, 2-Ethylhexanol, neopentyl-glycol,
caprolactone and 1,6 hexanediol (HDO®) are produced by this group. The products are
used as solvents and as intermediate chemicals by other companies in products such as
wood finishes, PVC siding, oils, plastic coatings and herbicides. Diols are used as an
intermediate for a variety of polymeric systems, such as producing polyesters for
polyurethane elastomers, surface coatings adhesives and plasticizers.”

This is just gross  “healthy vitamins” are made right along side the chemical products. On their website they portray a lot of modern technology and healthy pictures, but they don’t show you the chemical plants as they really are. They are vile, repulsive, mega polluters.  Vitamins that BASF doesn’t produce , usually come from China. ..even more questionable. 😦

I found these in the store today. Most of the vitamins I looked at were from a synthetic source.

synthetic vitamin c Synthetic vitamin C side pannel

This is one of many bottles of synthetic vitamin C that I found today. Ascorbic Acid is the synthetic source of the vitamin C in this product.

This is what Dr. Mercola says about the origin of vitamins. The Seattle Times June 3, 2007 :

“Dr. Mercola’s Comment:

Almost all vitamin C sold in the United States is from China. They also produce 50 percent of the world’s aspirin and 35 percent of all Tylenol. Since the United States does not require country-of-origin labels for any of our drugs, foods or supplements, there is no telling where that vitamin you are taking came from.

The industry in China appears to be split between top-notch operations and bottom-of-the-barrel producers, with no way for a consumer to easily tell which produced a given product. China also suffers from the same regulatory conflict of interest that we are seeing here in the United States.

Remember that while supplements can sometimes be helpful, your best bet will always be to try to get the majority of your vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. You can’t “make up” for a poor diet by simply adding vitamin supplements.

Remember it is your total lifestyle, not a “magic” supplement, that will help you achieve optimal health. Relying exclusively on supplements is a typical allopathic approach. If you don’t understand that then please watch the video I created, The Town of Allopath.

Processed foods are sorely lacking in nutrients, but eating plenty of raw organic foods, farmed locally (or as nearby as possible), can supply you with most of the vital nutrients that you need.”

From the book :Vitamin Myth Exposed
By: Brian Clement, Ph.D., N.M.D.

“Most vitamin companies compete for customers with identical synthetic vitamin products made from compounds produced by the same few drug manufacturers. The vitamin companies differentiate their products with different names and fancy labels, each making claims of “high potency”. But the higher the potency of the synthetic vitamin or nutrient, the more likely it is to exhibit drug-like, toxic effects, the stress of which can actually lead to disease.

The majority of vitamin companies also purposely mislead the consumer by taking advantage of loopholes in labeling laws. The truth is that the vitamin potencies for most supplements are derived from synthetic vitamins.

Consumers are fooled by the vitamin label claims and believe that the vitamin and nutrient potencies are derived from a natural source. You can avoid this trap by carefully examining the label. Look for the phrase “naturally occurring.” If the label does not say “naturally occurring” and also name the food source of the potency, then be aware that the supplement may contain synthetic vitamins or nutrients.”

I found these as well. Although they do not say, ” naturally occurring” they are the only ones I found in the store that were organic, non gmo, and from “100% Whole food complex.”  The box says it  derives the entire vitamin C from Mother Nature. This product looks convincing, however, I am still not convinced about its safety and origin. According to the Natural News, foods that come from China can contain the USDA organic seal. When it comes to organic foods grown in China, there is very little regulation on organics. The farmer must not use herbicides or pesticides, but it is acceptable if they use water from polluted rivers. There is no testing or limitations on how much heavy metals or PCB’s, BPA, or other synthetic chemicals can be contained in organic foods that carry the USDA organic seal.

Alive vitamins Alive Vitamins side pannel Alive Vitamins other side pannel Alive Vitamins Back Pannel

I think I will  play it safe and skip the synthetic cesspool. I will be obtaining my vitamins from natural whole foods.

Sources: Doctors Research, Pandora’s Lunch Box, Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Mercola, Natural News