Know What's in Your Food

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

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The Sick Story of Genetically Modified Organisms

A great documentary that explains the FDA’s involvement..or lack there of in our food.

I thought it was great the way they showed the FDA scientist thought that GMOs were dangerous. Even though the scientist employeed by the FDA spoke out, they were ignored.




Potatoes Flavored Any Way You Like Them

full ruffles potatoes

A friend of mine was eating her lunch and had this bag of potato chips. I quickly grabbed the bag for a quick review of the ingredients. She knew right away, when I started taking pictures of the bag, what I was up to.  She asked me to use the name “Veronica” to protect her identity of the person eating this fried, fake,(processed) food. So…full disclaimer, the name of the individual has been changed to protect the guilty 🙂

“Veronica” loves cheese or foods that are flavored cheese. I assume that is what attracted her to try these chips.  I pointed out that they were cheddar & sour cream “flavor.”  While I am sure few of us would expect potato chips to be healthy, I am amazed at how many of our foods are “flavored” to delight our senses.  I have seen hot dog, steak, barbecue, chicken & waffle etc. flavored potato chips. Since when is a potato supposed taste like a chicken or a waffle? Shouldn’t a potato taste like a potato?

Here is a look of the ingredients:

ruffles ingredients

The good news is the first ingredient is potatoes, and that is about where it ends.

Oil- Sunflower, Corn, Canola. Some of these oils are listed more than once. Corn and Canola are both big GMO crops. You can read my post on GMOs by clicking here.

Right after potatoes and oil we see, “Sour Cream Seasoning”… I am sorry, but what the heck is that?  I have never seen sour cream seasoning in the store… have you?

Maltodexterin – Made from corn.. another GMO possibility.

Monosodium Glutamate- So many products have hidden forms of MSG. This one just says it flat-out. You can read my post about MSG by clicking here.

Natural and Artificial Flavors- The source of natural flavoring can be disturbing.  Artificial flavoring comes from just plain old chemicals made in a lab by flavor scientist. These chemicals are designed to make you crave the taste, so that you continue to eat more. In a word, addiction! You can read my post about flavoring by clicking here.

Yeast Extract- A hidden form of MSG.

Yellow 5&6- both of these artificial dyes are derived from coal tar…yuck.

Less than 2% of this product contains real cheese and sour cream, but that is what they advertise on the front of the bag in big letters. The potato chip bag  reserves the small lettering for the word, “flavored.” I also find it appalling that they use a picture of cheese on the front and they want to tell that is made with real cheese…..ummm yes,(sigh) this product is made with less than 2% cheese.

I would have told “Veronica” to skip the fried, salty, chemically inflamed, goodness, but she already knows my thoughts on such foods. 🙂

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English: Space filling model of monosodium glu...

Model of monosodium glutamate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)  is an additive that we often associate with being in American Chinese food, but did you know that  MSG is a common food additive in many of our processed foods? MSG is used by food producers to enhance food flavors. It is an inexpensive substitute  that allows food producers to skimp on real food ingredients for flavor.

MSG has been shown to cause neurological damage in lab mice, but yet it is still considered safe by the FDA to use in our food.  MSG has been found in infant formula and in baby foods such as Gerber Graduates  Lil Entree’s. You can read my post on Gerber Graduates Lil Entree’s here.

Some of the effects of MSG :

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Wheezing
  • Changes in heart rate

Some hidden forms of MSG borrowed from Truth in Labeling website:

  • Glutamic acid (E 620)2 
  • Glutamate (E 620)
  • Monosodium glutamate (E 621)
  • Monopotassium glutamate (E 622)
  • Calcium glutamate (E 623)
  • Monoammonium glutamate (E 624)
  • Magnesium glutamate (E 625)
  • Natrium glutamate
  • Anything “hydrolyzed”
  • Any “hydrolyzed protein”
  • Calcium caseinate,  Sodium caseinate
  • Yeast extract, Torula yeast
  • Yeast food, Yeast nutrient
  • Autolyzed yeast
  • Gelatin
  • Textured protein
  • Whey protein
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Soy protein
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Anything “protein”
  • Anything “protein fortified”
  • Soy sauce
  • Soy sauce extract
  • Protease
  • Anything “enzyme modified”
  • Anything containing “enzymes”
  • Anything “fermented”
  • Vetsin
  • Ajinomoto
  • Umami

The effects of MSG on the body are disturbing. Dr. Russell Blayock who wrote the book ,Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Says in his book,

“Many studies have shown that glutamate plays a major role in how the brain is formed during development. There is a programmed rise and fall in brain glutamate levels during brain formation, which occurs in humans not only during intrauterine life, but until the age of 27.

This oscillation in brain glutamate is very critical, and any disruption in glutamate levels has dire consequences. It has been shown that during pregnancy, a diet high in MSG increases the developing baby’s glutamate levels to those twice as high as the mother’s. This can significantly alter how the baby’s brain forms and functions.

Very high MSG intake (of any excitotoxin) can cause abnormal learning, addiction risk, and behavioral, emotional control, and endocrine problems later in the baby’s life.

We now know, for instance, that glutamate is the main control neurotransmitter for the hypothalamus. This section of the brain controls most of your hormones, eating behavior, temperature control, pain regulation, and sleep habits, as well as the autonomic control of your heart, GI tract, lungs, and bladder. When animals are fed MSG early in life, they develop severe abnormalities, which include a short stature, small endocrine organs (pituitary, adrenal glands, thyroid, ovaries, testes and pancreas), and a high risk of seizures and impaired learning.”

According to Mercola, food producers want to use MSG because it is cheap and it enhances the flavor of food. MSG is also a known contributing factor of obesity since the 1960’s. Whether we are consuming MSG or the hidden forms of MSG, it doesn’t matter. We don’t need it, and neither do our children.

Sources: Food Renegad, Mercola, Truth in Labeling

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Starchology, It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Kitchen Anymore….

Vintage or Retro Kitchen

(Photo credit: Lori L. Stalteri)

Starchology…doesn’t that sound like a made up word? It isn’t. In fact, it is the latest in food technology. I don’t know about you, but technology and food science are just two terms I am not comfortable with.  Starchology provides new food technology with the goal of helping food producers use cleaner simpler labels. That doesn’t mean the food is cleaner or simpler, it just means they can now label it that way.  The company, Ingredion, possesses the food technology to modify starch to create perfect textures “dial in texture” and appearances and still get away with calling it, “starch” on the ingredients list.

Ingredion is the name the company responsible for many starchology products like Novation. Here is what  Ingredion’s website has to say about their product Novation:

 “Our Ingredion NOVATION®​ product line helps you create satisfying, wholesome foods with clean ingredients labels. NOVATION®​ starches deliver modified starch performance without compromise and with a simple “starch” label.”

“Today, the NOVATION®​ family of functional native starches includes waxy maize, tapioca, rice and potato bases, along with organic varieties and the PRIMA line for added freeze/thaw and cold storage stability. The result: You now have the option to make a “natural,” “organic” or “wholesome” claim without compromising end-product quality or sacrificing in-process performance.”

“No matter what kind of sauce you’re making, your ready meals can have the kind of clean label consumers are looking for with dependable stability and shelf life.”

The kind of clean labels consumers are looking for….. This is the latest and greatest attempt to pull the wool over our eyes as consumers. People are becoming more aware and concerned about knowing what’s in their food. Food producers are becoming more aware that we are starting to read food labels and ingredient list. So now they will use food science to further alter our food and claim, in writing, on the package that the ingredients are simple….Geee…thanks.

Ingredion is working to make a more functional flour. Again, from their own website, this is what they have to say about the new flour they are creating to be used in our foods.

“Chefs appreciate flour for its contribution to taste, appearance, texture and overall consumer appeal. But flour can cause problems due to an inability to withstand rigorous food processing conditions and extended storage requirements. That’s why we partnered with Limagrain CĂ©rĂ©ales IngrĂ©dients to create theHOMECRAFT®​ family of functional flours.”

” They give a natural and luxurious appearance, smooth texture, creamy mouthfeel and authentic flavor to prepared foods. HOMECRAFT®​ functional flours reduce process and end-product variability and improve processing times and batch-to-batch consistency.”

This stuff screams modification, alteration, abomination, and highly processed all at the same time. It is outrageous that they can simply call this “flour” or “starch” on an ingredient list. The wording in this makes my stomach turn. ” They give a natural and luxurious appearance.”  It doesn’t mean that they are natural…they will just look that way.

How about this quote, ” They improve processing times and batch-to-batch consistency.”  So they have formulated the flour to cook faster, and formulated to ensure that each time its used the final product comes out the same.  I think we are becoming a nation that has forgotten what is like to have Grandma make a cake in her kitchen. It took time to make homemade goodies, and they came out tasting great, but each time it they were slightly different…because it was real food made with real ingredients.

It seems as though reading our ingredients, and knowing what is in our food just got harder.

Sources: Food Innovation, Pandora’s Lunch Box

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Styrene/ Styrofoam is a Carcinogen

A styrofoam food container.

Everyday I see styrofoam containers in the form of  fast food containers, restaurant take out, and coffee cups. Styrofoam containers are a favorite among people and restaurant owners. Let’s face it, they do a great job of keeping food hot or cold. But do they also do a great job of promoting cancer and leukemia?

Environmental Protection Agency Seal

Environmental Protection Agency Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

According to the EPA styrene , a chemical component of styrofoam, causes cancer in animals. While the EPA wants to do more testing to see if it causes cancer in humans,  Philip Landrigan, M.D. , from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, prefers to error on the side of caution by telling  people that they should be cautious while the data is completed.  As a pediatrician, he urges pregnant women and children to refrain from using styrofoam containers.

The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), 1983 stated that the chemical styrene could migrate into food from styrofoam containers. If this is true, just imagine all of the chemicals that we eat when our hot food is placed in a styrofoam take out container, or when our piping hot coffee is contained in a styrofoam cup.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently listed styrene as a potential carcinogen.

It seems as though every government agency is willing to all, but call styrene a carcinogen. Who knows how many more years it will take the government to reach its final conclusion that styrene is harmful to our health. The companies that make styrofoam are fighting back by calling the science unfounded. They don’t believe that styrene is a carcinogen. These companies have a lot to lose if the government declares styrene to be a carcinogen. You can bet they will pull out all the stops to delay the outcome of government testing.

What you can do to make a difference:

  • Avoid styrofoam containers.
  • If your favorite restaurant uses styrofoam, call them and ask them to provide an alternative. Post the request on their Facebook page, or other social media, if they have one.
  • Do not microwave coffee, tea, or foods in styrofoam containers, not even for a few seconds.
  • Contact your representative and encourage them to ban the use of styrofoam containers. Don’t know who your representative is? Click here to find out.

Sources: IPCS, EPA, Abc News.