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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Truth Behind The Food Industry Overall

The Truth and History of Food Labels

WARNING: Be prepared for a completely different outlook on food. Do not read any further unless you are ready to understand the truth about our food industry and a failed effort to protect your nutrition.
Consider these questions as you read the article:
1. Is the mainstream food industry concerned at all about your health?
2. Is the FDA effectively protecting our health?
3. Is it simply ironic that the longer you eat poor quality foods, the sicker you get, and the sicker you get, the more prescription drugs are prescribed?

The history of food labels is a very important history to understand. American's have been conditioned to read food labels as a way to make better choices in nutrition. While this is somewhat plausible, it is dangerously misleading and often completely false.

Let's first look at the incredible world that thrives around us in natural perfection. Is there any other animal in the world required to study its food or count numbers before deciding what to eat? NO. Did we as humans have to study our foods or count calories, fat, or carbs before the 1900's? NO. So what happened? Most of us just assume that our advanced society has perfected the understanding of nutrition and that food labels are simply there to help us follow a nutritional map. Sadly, this assumption is very wrong and very dangerous.

Second, let's think about the completely flawed application of Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA). The concept of RDA's is a good thing. Unfortunately, the RDA's found on food labels have little meaning for the consumer. The flaw exists when people believe these RDA's are applicable to themselves. Consider the vastly different nutritional needs between a 4'11", 95 lb., 90 yr old woman versus a 6'4", 240 lb., NFL football player. Are we supposed to believe that both of them would need similar amounts of calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, or any other nutrients? No. In fact, not only do the amounts of nutrients differ greatly from person to person, but so do the types of nutrients. We are all uniquely different, and we all require a diet that only our own body understands.

Lastly, why is it that every food in your grocery store is now required to have a food label with nutrition facts and ingredients except fresh fruits and vegetables? Because even the government knows that what nature produced remains perfect. However, if man created it, it is guaranteed to be nutritionally flawed and all too often dangerous.

The history of food labels is actually a sad story to understand. Surprisingly, the government's own FDA website clearly explains its own history and failures. The FDA's original intentions were truly good in nature. As processed foods and deceptive labeling began to appear at the turn of the century, the government was smart enough to realize that man was willing to poison for profit. This same scenario was beginning to exist with false and dangerous drugs, or "snake oils", as well. Thus, the FDA was originally created to protect American's from lesser quality foods and dangerous drugs.

The very first government bill passed to protect us from inferior foods was called the "U.S. Pure Food and Drugs Act". Notice the well intentioned reference to PURE foods.

Over time, these good intentions were forced astray due to the financial greed of an ever growing food and drug industry. It was the food industry that first began to pressure the FDA with every means possible including politics, lengthy court battles, and expensive law suits. After 100 years of continued decline, we are now left with a massive food industry that has perfected the art of producing cheap, artificial foods designed solely for profit with very little protection or oversight to our health and nutrition.

The saddest part in this story regards our population itself. We also share the blame, because if we did not eat it, no one would make it. In an ironic twist, it was one of America's favorite foods that dictated much of the industry's demise:
The good old Peanut Butter and Jelly SandwichThis is a very interesting story! Please take the time to come back and read this very important and fascinating research article taken from the FDA's archives.

Click Here to read the FDA's article on food regulation.
After reading this, you will see where our current food labeling laws are a far cry from the original goal of ensuring "PURE" foods. The current disfunctional standards play on words by stating they follow a "nutritional" food labeling approach that specifies the "competitive components valued by consumers". What? That doesn't sound very health oriented! In other words, we'll just show the typical make-up of Fat, Calories, Sugar, Carbohydrates, etc., and then just make sure all the chemicals, preservatives, and artificial ingredients are listed for the consumer to read.

In short, the FDA has washed its hands of ensuring the true quality, or PUREness, of food. Instead, they expect that every consumer will make healthy decisions from the information provided. This approach completely ignores the real quality of food and does very little to protect our nutritional needs.

For example, which would be a better choice? 50 sugar calories from a bag of white sugar, or 50 sugar calories from a fresh apple? Food labeling requirements would say these two foods are "nutritionally" equal: 50 sugar calories = 50 sugar calories, Right? Wrong! Here's another example: Only in today's world is it possible to mislead the public by lowering the fat content of a product while also increasing the sugar and carb content and placing a giant label on the package that reads "REDUCED FAT!". This "Reduced Fat" product is now possibly even less healthy and more dangerous than its original formula, but the advertising and labeling leads you to believe it is a healthier choice.

Let's revisit those three questions at the first of this article. I would like to provide some food for thought to these questions, but I encourage you to research your own conclusions.

1. Is the mainstream food industry concerned at all about your health?
Here is just one of many examples to consider. In the mid 1950's Ocean Spray decided to find a cheaper way to produce their top selling cranberry juice. What was their main goal? To "create" the same taste but with less real juice. Using real cranberry juice was too expensive which in turn ate away at potentially higher profits. What did they create? High Fructose Corn Syrup, perhaps one of the worst food sweeteners ever created. Today, High Fructose Corn Syrup is in tens of thousands of products some of which would surprise you.

2. Is the FDA effectively protecting our health? Did you know that the FDA cannot legally order the recall of any foods except infant formula? They can only request a company to voluntarily remove their potentially dangerous product. Usually, companies will comply, but sometimes they don't! Otherwise, a court battle ensues while the food or food product may continue to be sold.

3. Is it simply ironic that the longer you eat poor quality foods, the sicker you get, and the sicker you get, the more prescription drugs are prescribed? I ask this question simply to invoke thought. I personally find it interesting and maybe a little scary that the same agency responsible for monitoring drugs is also responsible for the quailty of our food, the Food and Drug Agency. FOOD and DRUG Agency...a mighty strange combination of responsibilities when you stop and think about it.

On the following page are some recent examples of where the food industry continues to push boundaries in food labeling. Your health is never the true concern of our mainstream food producing industry. Unfortunately, it is only the so called "alternative" food stores and suppliers that maintain a conscience in their products. Click Here for News Articles about Food.

The following excerpts are from these articles:

"There is no question that one of the reasons why the FDA may be so lax in its enforcement is pressure from the food companies or other special interests," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

"Food manufacturers say their labels are within federal guidelines"

"People want to eat better, but the food industry is just delivering a lot of hype, not the real thing," said CSPI Legal Affairs Director Bruce Silverglade.
"You have to be a lawyer or a scientist," Jacobson says. "You really have to read labels very closely, and the average person has a lot of other things on his or her mind."
Just remember that these examples only represent what the FDA catches and acts upon, and that these are violations of standards that have already been manipulated over time to provide little true nutritional oversight.
People often ask me, "How do I know what to eat if we can't trust our food labels?". The answer is simple, but some people find it a hard truth to swallow..literally. The answer is WHOLE FOODS. Go back to the foods that God and Nature created for us, and steer away from the foods that man has 'engineered' for profit.
So how do you get started? I am always glad to recommend The Wholefood Farmacy: "A Grocery Store with a Conscience". (www.WholeFoodInternet.com)This company offers an increidble gateway for people needing to learn and experience what PURE food was meant to be, and with the added benefit of delicious convenience. Their 13-Day Tri-Decathlon is what changed my life and my understanding of food forever!


The Real Truth Behind Processed Foods

Decisions that we make when it comes to food and nutrition can often be very emotional.  It’s emotional in the sense that people have strong opinions one way or the other on a given topic when it comes to food choices.  And for good reason – food is literally the fuel that keeps us alive.  In my practice, many tell me that they avoid processed foods, and avoid giving them to their children.  This is one of many topics in nutrition that I challenge you to think more critically about because not all topics are as cut and dry as they seem.  And our emotions can keep us from thinking logically on a subject.

I heard Mario Ferruzzi, PhD and food researcher from Purdue University speak about this subject at a food conference recently.   He systematically explained food processing in the United States, and it was so informative.  I wanted to share it with you here.

What is food processing?

Food processing is a set of methods and techniques used to transform raw commodities and ingredients into finished food products for human consumption.    That definition basically tells us that everything we eat is processed.  Unless you are picking food right out of the field and putting it in your mouth, you are eating processed foods!

Why do we process foods?

Food Safety.  We want food to be safe from high bacteria levels that would cause us to get sick.  There are many ways that food is processed in order to make it safe for people.  One example is thermal processing like infrared heating, blanching and pasteurization.  Thermal processing can degrade heat sensitive vitamins, but it can also help preserve and aid in the bioavailability in others.

Another way is through non-thermal processing like fermentation, freezing or using ultraviolet light  In the formulation of products, they might add antibacterial components to the foods to ensure a safe product.

Food Quailty and Shelf-Life.

We want our food to look and taste palatable, and we want those foods to hold their nutritional components.  The food industry will add things like flavors, chelators (slows the degradation), buffers (controls the pH) and antioxidants to processed foods to ensure that over time those products will maintain a high quality look, feel and taste.

Product Conversion

Foods need to be processed into something that most consumers will actually eat.  That means you need to make sure the food looks good and edible.  In the case of produce items, the processing begins at harvest.  The farmers must harvest the crop and transport it to a plant where it can be properly washed, cut and then packaged for transport.   Even organic, free-range meats must be processed for human consumption.  You are getting the idea of product conversion here.

The government conducts regular studies on the nutrition status of Americans, and they make nutritional modifications to the food supply in cases where nutrients are chronically low.  An example would be the addition of iodine to salt in the 1920’s to address the issues of goiter.  Another example is the fortification of iron and folate in flour, bread and ready-to-eat cereals.  The addition of nutrients would also be a form of processing. 

Salts and sweeteners

Salt is added to food for a variety of reason.  One major reason is because salt is a flavor enhancer.  Another reason is that it helps preserve a product by lowering the water activity and keep bacteria growth low.  Salt also helps maintain elasticity in products such as dough.

Sugar is also a flavor enhancer.  But sugar is also widely used as a bulking agent, so if you remove sugar from a product, something else must be put in its place.  Sugar also helps control the moisture and structure of a food product.

As you can see, salt and sugar provide more than just flavor enhancers.  There are structural and antibacterial functions as well.  But either way, eating too many foods with added salts and sweeteners can negatively impact your health.

Fats

Many products use added fats to increase not only flavor, but also shelf life.  Partially hydrogenated fats, or trans fats, are often used to processed foods to increase their ability to sit in your pantry without molding.  Trans fats have been shown to increase cholesterol and contribute to heart disease.  We certainly want to minimize foods with added fats, particularly trans fats.

There are varying levels to processing of foods.  Here it is broken down:

                                              LEVEL ONE/MINIMALLY PROCESSED FOODS

Minimally processed foods – like bagged spinach, cut vegetables and roasted nuts -- are often simply pre-prepped for convenience.

 LEVEL TWO PROCESSING

Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness include canned beans, tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna.

LEVEL THREE PROCESSING

Foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture (sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives) include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes.

LEVEL FOUR PROCESSING

Ready-to-eat foods, like crackers, granola, and deli meats.

 LEVEL FIVE PROCESSING/MOST PROCESSED

The most heavily processed foods often are frozen or pre-made meals like frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners.


The Bottom Line

You cannot say that all food processing is bad because everything we eat is “processed” in some form or another.  We do want to encourage the consumption of foods in their most wholesome form when possible.   On the level scheme provided above, eat mostly from the lowered numbered levels and choose foods without added salts and sugars.