Humans naturally have cravings for processed foods and there heightened flavors that salt, sugar, and fat provide because in primal times, these were the foods that were the most nutrient dense and sustaining for survival. Today, food products ranging from Yoplait Lite to Big Macs all are chemically designed to hit the human’s peak point of pleasure— and not exceed it by one degree. There is a reason it is difficult to only eat one Lays Potato Chip. There is a reason people down entire pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream even though it actually contains four servings. Ben & Jerry’s does not want people to care that they just consumed 1,240 calories and 320% of their day’s worth of saturated fat because it tasted so good. These food products are ever so meticulously calculated to make people keep eating. Food companies hire chemists to formulate the unique ratios of salt, sugar, and fat, and artificial additives in every one of their products. This “bliss point equation” is used in the exact same way the tobacco industry (which, incidentally, owns Kraft and many other food brands) uses nicotine in their products: it keeps people addicted and buying more.
The Food and Drug Administration permits numerous ingredients to be used in the making of American food products that are otherwise banned in other countries around the world. These include high-fructose corn syrup, genetically modified soy, hydrogenated oils (unsaturated fats turned into trans saturated), food dyes, sodium benzoate (a cell-killing carcinogen), dimethylpolysiloxane (the silicon used in putty and sealants), azodicarbonamide, MSG, TBHQ (derived from petroleum and used in chemical varnishes), butylated hydroxytoluene, and butylated hydroxyanisole, just to name a few. These additives cause a wide range of health effects from hyperactivity in children, to severe allergic reactions and stomach tumors in adults, to tissue inflammation, cancer growth, and even death in animals. Companies like Quaker Oats, Pringles, Betty Crocker, and chains like McDonalds and Pizza Hut use them because it is most profitable. In this business it’s all about the money-saving shortcuts. In fact, the USDA itself permits using what’s known as “pink slime” for school lunch programs in order to shave up to three cents off the price of every pound of hamburger. The primary concern of food companies and government agencies is not of health, of ethics, and certainly not of morals; it is of money.
The most important thing to know when trying to eat healthy is what exactly you are eating and where it comes from. This sounds simple, but because of the deceitful system that exists around us, it is often difficult to distinguish what is and what is not healthy. Ideally the best way to ensure healthy pure food would be to grow it for yourself. If you are able to have a garden or even grow a few vegetables or herbs at home, go for it! If however, like myself, this is not an option for you, worry not.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for food that will help you make the best choices:
- If you do not want to be a victim of those in control you must outsmart the system. Do your research and educate yourself.
- First and foremost, read labels. If it comes in a box, can, carton, or bag, do not simply trust the brand name or the advertisement. Read the ingredient list and nutrition facts.
- In general, the fewer ingredients in the product, the better it is for you. If the ingredients start sounding like the ingredients on the back of your shampoo bottle…I wouldn’t eat it.
- Because GMO’s and potentially toxic pesticides are legal to go unlabeled in the US, if possible, aim for organic brands.
- Buy locally so you can see for yourself what goes in to making your food.
- Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds in their most pure form and prepared simply are the healthiest foods you could eat. Skip the expensive specialty brands, skip the stress of reading labels, eat natural whole food plants!
Moss, Michael. (2013). Salt, sugar, fat. New York, NY: Random House.
Hari, Vani. (5 Mar. 2013). “How Food Companies Exploit Americans with Ingredients Banned in Other Countries.” Food Babe. Web. 3 Jan. 2014. http://foodbabe.com/2013/02/12/how-food-companies-exploit-americans-with-ingredients-banned-in-other-countries/#
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Retrieved March 24, 2016, from http://www.fda.gov