Has anyone ever forwarded you a site that claims to tell you all of the “terrible” things the food industry is doing? How their lies are manipulating the poor unknowing & innocent moms into purchasing and feeding their families unquestionably “wrong” products? Sure the whole things sounds devious and evil, but there are a whole whack-load of regulation hoops set out by the government that food companies have to jump through. Never mind the fact that no one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to purchase a product. So… is the food industry as horrible as you think it is? Let’s find out!
I was recently sent this link from cracked.com all about “The 6 Most Horrifying Lies The Food Industry is Feeding You” (Click HERE to read it!). As a Food Scientist I get questions about ingredients all the time. (But that’s also because people usually get confused and think I’m a nutritionist….) I’m here to set the record straight and tell you the difference between fact and media hype.
Claim #1: We’re all eating wood.
By wood, they are referring to cellulose. And no that’s not some “bullshit name “, that’s what it’s REALLY called. Did you know that cellulose is actually the most common organic compound on Earth? It’s found in about 33% of all plant matter! That means when ever you eat ANY plant you are inevitably also eating cellulose. So how can this site claim that “it is not food at all”? Somebody’s not eating their fruits & veggies! Who cares if it is derived from wood, it’s structurally the same thing! When the article says that it’s “completely indigestible by human beings” yes that is correct! But then it continues and says that “it has no nutritional value to speak of”, uhhh… have you heard of fibre? I’m pretty sure every physician would agree that indigestible fibre has LOADS of benefits, including reducing your cholesterol, aiding in regular digestion & increasing satiety which can help with weight loss!
Claim #2: Oranges are the newest zombies
This one starts off trying to say good things about orange juice, that this “shit must be like medicine or something”, but that’s just plain false. Orange juice is high in vitamin C, but that doesn’t mean it is a cure-all. At least 16 well-designed, double-blind studies have shown that vitamin C supplements do not prevent colds, and at best only slightly reduce the symptoms of a cold. The next thing that is supposedly zombie-like with the orange juice is that after squeezing “the juice is then immediately sealed in giant holding tanks and all the oxygen is removed”. Uh… yeah, how else did you think it stayed fresh? Removing the oxygen is fairly consistent method of preservation that is used in lots of foods. Would you rather them put in preservatives? After this it talks about how they add a “carefully constructed mix of chemicals called a flavour pack”. But if the flavours are derived from orange essence and orange oil is it really wrong? They’re just adding back in what was already there because they didn’t want to add in strange-sounding preservatives to the ingredient deck.
Claim #3: Ammonia in beef is bad!
The person who wrote this must be a genius! Did you know that burgers aren’t that healthy for you…!? I thought that was obvious. This is why I personally refrain from eating mish-mash meats. Sure that hotdog was “all beef” but which part of the cow do YOU think you’re getting? Why would any smart business make prime rib into a hamburger or hotdog when they would lose money? Ammonia in beef is a means to an end, a way to sell a cheaper product to the consumer and still maintain its overall quality. If you have a problem with the gross ground beef, stop buying it! I thought we all watched Super Size Me and had the globally epiphany, that McDonald’s, is NOT by any means a “healthy” fast-food restaurant.
Claim #4: All blueberries aren’t real
Blueberries ARE awesome I agree with the author on that point, but have you ever noticed A) how expensive a tiny clamshell is (yes that’s the technical term for that tiny plastic container it comes in)? or B) that they turn your entire hand blue when you try to eat a handful at once?
There is HUGE hype about blueberries these days, and I hate to break it to you, but the food industry is a business just like everything else these days. They are going to try to save money and while still creating a product that you can love! Real blueberries are expensive and they turn everything it touches blue! Which is a problem. This author states that “they do a damn good job of faking it, too — you need a chemist’s set of your own to be able to call bullshit”. He’s referring to the blueberries on the ingredient deck. Although I hope I’m pointing out the obvious here, but if it doesn’t say “blueberries” on the ingredient label, it’s probably not blueberries. But you were smart enough to figure that out… weren’t you? Although there is marketing involved, the government trusts that as a consumer, you are able to turn a box of Mini Wheats over and READ.
Claim #5: Free range doesn’t equal free
Just as a warning, looking this stuff on google may sway you to the vegan side. I’m not bashing vegetarians or vegans, more power to you! I’m just weak and don’t have the ability to never eat meat/animal based products… they just taste too good!
About the eggs… yes, there IS a difference between free-range and yarding, which is keeping poultry in fenced yards. This also isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this indignity either. I agree that its terrible to debeak chickens & then put them in a confined place. Even the cage-less version often doesn’t have enough room for a hen to live a proper life. I support informing consumers about what they are eating, and if you would like to find out about a certified local sustainable food in your neighbourhood check out Local Food Plus. Its a Canadian non-profit organization that brings farmers and consumers together to build regional food economies. Through their rigorous certification system, they are able to set standard on production, labour, native habitat preservation, animal welfare, and on-farm energy use.
Claim #6: All health claims on foods are bogus
Legally a company cannot claim a health benefit on a FOOD, (not a natural health product) that is not approved. Why the increase in health claims? The increase in the interest of health! People are turning away from pills and looking to food as the magic answer. The joke is that a lot of these claims could have been made forever, but only now with the research and scientific studies that have been completed, can we actual say the good stuff our food has been doing all along! Did you know that coffee is the #1 source of antioxidants in the average North American diet? Lately, you may have noticed that coffee labels have begun to advertise this, but it’s not as if they magically added the antioxidants. It’s been there ALL along! Which is the same with many other of our beloved foods on the market today!
In the end, food companies aren’t “evil” they are just an industry. It’s not personal, it’s just business. Since everyone should care what they are buying, they should also be realistic. Do you’re research about products, don’t count on anyone else to do your dirty work. The government is only out to make sure you don’t get sick or that some unnecessarily wrong things aren’t happening. The rest, is up to you, because ultimately, the companies are only selling what we’re buying.