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Frankenfood: Sick of It

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  • Frankenfood: Sick of It

    I posted this on another forum (not one related to diet), so the information may not be particularly novel or interesting for members here. Nonetheless, I thought I'd re-post it here just 'cause. Maybe it will spark a discussion, maybe not. It's basically me venting some frustration.

    If you want to be sane, don't become a label reader.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), I already went that route.

    I get the larger issue here . . . we have to make sure that there is enough food for everyone and that it is affordable. But what is the cost?

    I would argue that there are a lot of questionable additives and chemicals that go into our food--and those are just the listed/detectable ones.

    I try to avoid to the greatest extent possible: sugar, corn derivatives, soy derivatives, hydrogenated foods, aspartame, MSG etc. However, this can be really hard given the ubiquity of these additives. Last night I just wanted some deli turkey before bed . . . but there was soy. Why the hell is there soy in turkey? It's turkey, not that plastic vegan crap "tofurkey."

    The biggest disappointment/frustration came for me the other day. I finally tried out some coconut milk in my smoothie and it was fantastic. The product itself was great--the only additive was guar gum, which is probably benign. However, then I read about the "BPA" in canned foods . . .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A

    Sounds like some pretty nasty stuff. Apparently, the endocrine impairments have been known since the 1930s. Why the hell is this still being used? It's ridiculous.

    Of course, industry always fights back, driven by the amoral, almighty dollar.

    http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/wat.../54195297.html

    It makes me think of the tobacco industry or those "Sweet Surprise" HFCS commercials funded by the Corn Refiners of America.

    Then there is the inevitable influence of money on research. Money dictates which questions are asked. Government regulatory agencies should be there to protect consumers, and while they probably do help, they are insufficient and at times likely part of the problem. If the history provided in Good Calories. Bad Calories. is even remotely accurate, the state of nutrition science in the United States (particularly the FDA recommendation to eat "6-11 servings of grains per day") is woeful and we've been seriously misled.

    My opinion is that one should not have to pay top dollar to get real food. Real food should be the standard, not this processed mass marketed crap. The only sustainable solutions to our health care problems are prevention--this "pill paradigm" needs to end. Pills and modern medicine are highly effective and laudable for treating infectious disease and physical injury, but they are not the solution for lifestyle illnesses. While personal responsibility and choice obviously play a paramount role, the onus falls on companies and government to ensure that the food supply is safe--not just in the short term, but the long term.

    I should be able to purchase canned coconut milk and not have to worry about the long-term effect the BPA is having on my body.

    The only way I see this state of affairs changing anytime soon is for large segments of the population to start waking up and caring about what goes into their body (which is unlikely since significant portions of the population seem fine inhaling tobacco smoke and trashing their bodies with drugs and excessive alcohol). I would love nothing more than if we could all stick it to these companies and boycott their processed crap.

    However, I also understand how hard this is because that processed crap is cheap, convenient, and often tasty. They got us by the balls.

  • #2
    I really appreciate your post! It is eye-opening, isn't it?

    They got us by the balls.
    Really? I haven't noticed anyone putting a gun to my head to force me to buy crap. I have eyes to read, a brain to think and a wealth of information at my fingertips. What I have noticed is that as the consumers in this small town where I live have educated themselves and made choices to eat real food, the availability of locally-produced grass-fed meat, dairy, vegetables and even (gasp!) grains has skyrocketed. There are now 3 goat's dairies, 4 grass-fed meat producers and probably 40 organic fruit/vegetable farmers within a 15 mile radius of this town of 10,000. These producers did not exist 10 years ago. And now, their prices are gradually starting to fall, as there is more competition.

    In every town I've lived, there has always been a food co-op or buying club. If there hadn't been, I would have started one--that's how important good food is to me.

    I eat really well on a budget of $75 a week in a very expensive part of the country (for food.) Is that a lot? I don't know, but to me, it's more satisfying to eat good real food than to buy new clothes or go out to eat.

    Choices. Priorities. Consumer Power.
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    • #3
      Even though I was raised on "real" food (including wheat, but I forgive my mama for that), and even as an adult made a lot of my own stuff, when I finally got around to REALLY checking out labels I was stunned. I remember last year sometime going to a supermarket and looking through the aisles and realizing HOW LITTLE real food there was in the store.

      My two most recent examples:

      Went to Henry's (a local health food store) to get some dinner before school. Was eyeing the chicken salad and then read the ingredients... which included mayo with SOYbeal oil and... corn sugars. What? What is corn and/or sugar doing in a chicken salad in a health food store? The lady asked if she could help me and I told her thanks, but no, I'd wanted the chicken salad but I don't eat corn and I don't really care for sugar in my chicken salad. She was surprised it was in their either... then she asked "is that bad?"

      I ran out of my D drops and am not placing an order until this weekend (well I'm not completely out, but I'm basically siphoning the last little bit with the little dropper into my mouth at night). I thought I'd pick up some D gels to have around, and I could leave them at work for days when I forgot to take my D at home. Not ONE of the D gels had an oil in it I could have. It was all veggie oils or soybean oil. (My drops have olive oil.) I must have read the ingredients on 12 different brands... not a one.

      If nothing else it's caused me to be more prepared. I order stuff online because I can get the better quality stuff cheaper without the extra crap (and it's not like you can just go to the store and find lots of it because it's so rare.) I'm starting to use the farmer's market more for my eggs, and I've just been checking out CSAs and decided on one, so I'll start that in Feb. I also just found a meat CSA and am going to do that in a couple of months as well. So for me, personaly, it's definitely made me change how I see things.

      I'm saddened for your normal person though because so many of them THINK they're making healthy choices and they're not.
      sigpic "Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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      • #4
        Really? I haven't noticed anyone putting a gun to my head to force me to buy crap.
        Okay, maybe that's a stretch, BUT you do have to put a lot more time, planning, and yes, money to eat "clean." Plus, it's evident that a lot of people simply don't care and you don't want to be a nuisance when you're out with people.

        It's really annoying when there truly is no alternative. Like with the coconut milk--there are only two brands at the store and they're both in cans. I could get them online, but that will probably cost extra and it's just a burden to have to do.

        I don't want to come across as lazy, but at the same time, who wants to think about this stuff all the time. I know we don't live in a perfect world, but if we did, we should be able to go to the store with confidence that we're getting decent food. Yes, if you're buying candy that's one thing--the very nature of the food is unhealthy and that is a matter of personal responsibility. However, if you're buying canned tomatoes or meat, that's a whole 'nother matter.

        Was eyeing the chicken salad and then read the ingredients... which included mayo with SOYbeal oil and... corn sugars. What? What is corn and/or sugar doing in a chicken salad in a health food store?
        Exactly. Why is soy and corn sugar in chicken salad, much less at a health food store. To me, that's ridiculous. The soy and corn industry have way too much influence and prevalence. I'm just sick of it. These are not nutrient dense foods but they make up a huge portion of the so-called SAD.

        In my opinion, it's not even a matter of "primal/paleo" vs any other type of diet, but real food vs. crap food. I'm partial to the paleo diet (I like the theory, the flavors, and so on), but I think it's safe to say any kind of diet would improve if the quality of the food was better.

        I'm saddened for your normal person though because so many of them THINK they're making healthy choices and they're not.
        That's the worst thing of all. A huge pet peeve of mine are foods that are peddled as "healthful" when they are probably anything but: yogurt (especially low fat), granola bars, cereals, soy products, vegetable oils, fruit juices, and so on. Even before discovering the paleo diet, I knew simply from personal observation and common sense that these foods were crap--although I was still in the whole grains and legumes camp.

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        • #5
          Sick of it? How about sick from it!

          / my two cents
          carl's cave

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          • #6
            I ignore it. If people ask me, I will tell them all I know.

            This was my attitude as a vegan: I accepted other people's choices.

            I think most don't want to know. Fingers in ears, la-la-la-not-listening.

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            • #7
              I think most don't want to know. Fingers in ears, la-la-la-not-listening.
              Even my otherwise whole-foods eating friends don't want to hear anything that contradicts what they believe. Tried sharing a bit of Vitamin D info with one of said friends and I could see his eyes glaze over--he just didn't want to know that he can't get all of his D from food sources.
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              • #8
                Okay, maybe that's a stretch, BUT you do have to put a lot more time, planning, and yes, money to eat "clean." Plus, it's evident that a lot of people simply don't care and you don't want to be a nuisance when you're out with people.
                Sure, but it certainly beats having to go out and hunt every day or grow my own veggies. I don't feel like a nuisance when I'm out with other people. I either eat the best Primal choices available or I choose to IF. My choice and I don't need to fit in with the crowd anymore, KWIM?

                It's really annoying when there truly is no alternative. Like with the coconut milk--there are only two brands at the store and they're both in cans. I could get them online, but that will probably cost extra and it's just a burden to have to do.
                So don't drink coconut milk. No one is forcing you. Grok didn't find everything he wanted to eat all the time...

                I don't want to come across as lazy, but at the same time, who wants to think about this stuff all the time.
                I guess it depends on how important it is to you.

                I know we don't live in a perfect world, but if we did, we should be able to go to the store with confidence that we're getting decent food. Yes, if you're buying candy that's one thing--the very nature of the food is unhealthy and that is a matter of personal responsibility. However, if you're buying canned tomatoes or meat, that's a whole 'nother matter.
                Really? Stores are businesses. They are out to make money--not to guarantee our health. If they make more money selling crap, then that's what they will sell. I think what we put into our bodies is our responsibility. I certainly don't trust anyone else to know what is best for me.

                Bill- you live in a college town with a fantastic food co-op. Why not shop there? They will probably order in BPA-free coconut milk if you ask.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dragonfly View Post
                  So don't drink coconut milk. No one is forcing you. Grok didn't find everything he wanted to eat all the time...
                  I think the point is, shouldn't we all be able to buy coconut milk (or whatever) without ingesting known toxic substances? Why are food manufacturers allowed to use BPA to coat cans, when its toxic effects are well-known?

                  Originally posted by Dragonfly View Post
                  Really? Stores are businesses. They are out to make money--not to guarantee our health. If they make more money selling crap, then that's what they will sell. I think what we put into our bodies is our responsibility. I certainly don't trust anyone else to know what is best for me.
                  Stores are not allowed to sell us a great many things. Why shouldn't health-compromising foods be similarly banned from general sale? And shouldn't helping us maintain good health (because we will live longer and consume more) be a self-interested priority for grocery stores and food manufacturers? Why isn't it?

                  There is something much larger going on here, far beyond any talk of personal responsibility. For the vast majority of people, it's just too damn difficult/expensive to find clean, healthy food. We walk into our grocery stores believing (without much thinking about it, to be sure) that we will find the shelves filled with nutritious food. The fact of the matter is, there is very little that is healthfully edible. Even if we "shop the edges," we will find franken-vegetables, franken-meats, franken-dairy: genetically modified, full of pesticide residues and unhealthy fats, and with diminished nutritional value. That's not even talking about the actually toxic items filling the rest of the store, like all the grain products, and the fruits and vegetables sealed into toxin-leaking containers.

                  It just shouldn't be that difficult to find healthy food.

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                  • #10
                    The Matrix is upon us.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dragonfly View Post
                      I eat really well on a budget of $75 a week in a very expensive part of the country (for food.) Is that a lot? I don't know, but to me, it's more satisfying to eat good real food than to buy new clothes or go out to eat.
                      How do you manage that? I'm trying to keep it under $100 and haven't yet gotten it. I live in San Francisco, I don't know how food prices compare with where you live, and I probably also eat more, but hopefully those two factors don't account for all the increase.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Martha View Post
                        Stores are not allowed to sell us a great many things. Why shouldn't health-compromising foods be similarly banned from general sale? And shouldn't helping us maintain good health (because we will live longer and consume more) be a self-interested priority for grocery stores and food manufacturers? Why isn't it?
                        My problem with this approach is that whenever people start talking about "banning" foods, they start talking about fat and sugar first. Delicious, healthy fat. Do you really trust the government (the same folk who brought us the food pyramid) to tell us what is healthy and what isn't?

                        As for the stores, the economic argument wouldn't hold unless there was an all-out ban on certain foods. If a store stopped selling Twinkies, customers will just get their fix somewhere else. The store will have lost a customer, and the customer will still be eating crap. Lose/lose.

                        Honestly, I think it does come down to personal responsibility here - not because I don't think it is the government's responsibility to protect the food supply (ideally, they would), but because they obviously can't be trusted to do a decent job of it. Even with the all the incredibly unhealthy crap out there, finding real food really isn't that difficult. A bigger challenge for many people is being able to afford it, and having the time and knowledge to prepare things from scratch. And the biggest challenge is understanding what is healthy in the first place!
                        The Primal Holla! Eating fat. Getting lean. Being awesome.

                        You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do. - Kilgore Trout

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                        • #13
                          Just follow the money...
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by theholla View Post
                            My problem with this approach is that whenever people start talking about "banning" foods, they start talking about fat and sugar first. Delicious, healthy fat. Do you really trust the government (the same folk who brought us the food pyramid) to tell us what is healthy and what isn't?
                            Excellent point. No, I do not trust the government.

                            Originally posted by theholla View Post
                            And the biggest challenge is understanding what is healthy in the first place!
                            Exactly. The whole system is wrong on so many levels. First, we are misled about what constitutes a healthy diet. This goes beyond a difference of opinion, I think. Actual facts about nutrition are either distorted or fabricated, with food manufacturers, governmental agencies and health advocacy groups promoting "healthy diets" that have resulted in huge increases in the incidences of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, cancer, etc. The foods which are actually healthful -- meats, fruits and vegetables -- are contaminated by poor agricultural choices (soil depletion, over-dependence on artificial fertilizers, heavy use of pesticides, etc.), poor animal husbandry practices (feeding unnatural foods to our food animals, reliance on anti-biotics to correct the deficiencies created thereby, cruel and unsanitary living conditions, etc.) and poor preservation practices (BPA in cans and plastic bottles, questionable preserving agents, etc.)

                            I consider myself extremely lucky to have gained the knowledge of what is actually healthy, that I had the time and intelligence to do that, and that I can afford to act on that knowledge. Not everyone has the time, or the intelligence, or the wherewithal. The 20- and 30-somethings in my family are struggling, like most Americans, to put ANY food on the table, never mind optimal food.

                            It seems self-evident that the grocery stores would have a vested self-interest in helping me maintain a healthy lifestyle, because I will live longer and therefore spend more money in the long-run. And yet, this is not the reality. Why not? There are 7 billion reasons why not, and things are just going to get worse. No one really wants us to live longer, healthier lives. This planet simply cannot support that many human beings in an optimal manner. And there is an awful lot of money to be made from a sick populace, who aren't quite sick enough to stop being productive enough to pay for all that medical care and the crap food that creates a need for it.
                            Last edited by Martha; 01-13-2011, 03:32 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AndreaReina View Post
                              How do you manage that? I'm trying to keep it under $100 and haven't yet gotten it. I live in San Francisco, I don't know how food prices compare with where you live, and I probably also eat more, but hopefully those two factors don't account for all the increase.
                              This is my food bill & does not include paper products, toiletries, etc. It may be a bit higher right now because our Farmer's market is closed for the year. I came up with that figure in August, I believe.
                              I eat between 1500 and 1800 calories a day, normally. I'm 5'6", female, 47, moderately active.
                              We buy most of our food direct from the grower at the Farmer's Market from May-December. The rest at our food co-op. Our local hamburger direct from the grower is $4.00/lb. I make my own kombucha, most of the time. Try to buy quantity on sale (but can't do this as much with meat, cause we have a small freezer.)
                              See my FitDay journal to see what I normally eat.
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