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By Diane Small
It’s never pleasant to hear scary facts about foods you love, but the truth is that food standards vary wildly from country to country, and despite popular belief, North America (especially the USA) has some of the laxest regulations in the world. The results are clear: an obesity epidemic; high cancer and heart disease rates and many other health issues that are unique to highly developed nations with highly processed food.
Many consumer watchdogs in the USA, for example, have found that food label claims such as ‘pure’,‘fresh’, ‘non-artificial’, ‘natural’ and ‘real’ are largely unregulated and false when these claims are investigated. Even ‘fresh bread’ you get from bakeries will be filled with rising agents unless you buy from an organic baker or make it yourself.. Moreover, the processing of most foods, ingredients used in manufacturing, their byproducts, waste management and other details are often kept hidden from the public until they’ve been exposed by those willing to publicise the information–like Eluxe is doing right now, and like We Support Organic has in the past.
1. The manufacturing of Greek yogurt produces millions of tons of toxic waste every year, and nobody knows what to do with it
For every three or four ounces of milk, companies who manufacture greek yogurt can produce only one ounce of creamy Greek yogurt. The rest becomes acid whey. It’s a thin, runny waste product that can’t simply be dumped. Not only would that be illegal, but whey decomposition is toxic to the natural environment, robbing oxygen from streams and rivers. That could turn a waterway into what one expert calls a “dead sea,” destroying aquatic life over potentially large areas. Spills of cheese whey, a cousin of Greek yogurt whey, have killed tens of thousands of fish around the country in recent years.The $2 billion Greek yogurt market and state government officials are scrambling not just to figure out uses for whey, but how to make a profit off of it. See more here.
2. All grocery retail orange juice that is “not from concentrate” is processed with artificial flavours to ensure that each bottle tastes exactly the same
No matter what time of year and regardless of the origin of oranges, large juice manufacturers like Pepsico are consistently blending perfectly flavoured orange juice specifically through carefully controlled processes and artificial flavour calibration. These mixtures are added to replace the natural flavours lost when the juice chemically separates oxygen (or “deaerates” ) to be able to maintain shelf life for more than one year without oxidising.
Because the added flavour is technically derived from orange oil extracts (although it is completely, artificially and a chemically manufactured derivative), it does not need to be specifically listed in the ingredients – so don’t expect to see all that processing on the label.
3. Some vegetarian burgers are far more toxic than conventional beef patties
More than 99% of vegetarian burgers at grocery retailers are made with soy protein isolate (aka textured vegetable protein, aka soy meal). These substances derived from defatted soy flour are mostly used in pet foods, but sweetened up with sugar and spices to help improve their taste. Soy oil is generally separated from flaked soybeans — leaving defatted meal that’s ground into flour — using a chemical called hexane, one of the volatile organic compounds that constitutes natural gas, crude oil and gasoline.
Since more than 95% of soy in North America is also genetically modified, many well-intended vegetarians are also getting a nice dose of transgenic DNA in your veggie burgers. The Cornucopia Institute, a U.S.-based progressive farm policy outfit, had samples of soy oil, soy meal and soy grits tested, and both the soy meal and soy grits exceeded the hexane limit in food of 10 parts per million. A bigger question we might be asking ourselves is: why there is a hexane limit in our foods in the first place?
4. Conventional milk is made by high heating, homogenising, pasteurising, re-packing and combining the milk of hundreds of cows fed GMOs and injected with hormones. Ew!
Old-time farmers will say they can tell where their cows have been grazing by the taste of the milk, but those days are gone–the milk we buy in supermarkets today is uniformly white, and its cream won’t rise. And any lactic perfume will be detectable only if the milk is ultra heated. Cows are kept in herds of about 800 and fed not grass, but standardised mixes of genetically modified grains, old citrus, alfalfa and nut husks. Today, according to UC Davis estimates, about a third of the herds in California are treated with hormones to increase production. The milk will be standardised, fortified, pasteurised and homogenised. Translated, this means that it will be taken apart and put back together again, not always in the same proportions. Then it will be cooked and emulsified. At that point do you think it’s still milk? See more here
5. Shredded cheese is mixed with wood shavings. Seriously.
Cellulose–which is made of decomposed plant fibres (including wood)–is a common food additive to make make ice cream creamier or thicken salad dressing without adding calories. Since it is natural, even packaged foods labeled as organic often include cellulose. It’s put into shredded cheese and grated cheeses like parmesan to stop the cheese from clumping. Mmmmm Sawdust! Yummy.
6. Most canned soups are flavored with MSG – even when it’s not on the label
The food additive “MSG” is a slow poison which hides behind dozens of names, such as natural flavouring and yeast extract. Currently, labelling standards do not require MSG to be listed in the ingredient list of thousands of foods.
Secretly, soup manufacturers admit that they have referred to MSG as “natural” (that is, refined from vegetable protein and yeast) and establish it in the list of ingredients as ” yeast extract “or “hydrolysed (plant) protein”. A regulations war broke out in 2008 because Campbell and Progresso were so worried that customers would not buy their soups if they knew the huge, huge amounts of MSG they contained. See more here.
7. Processed canned soups go through such violent processing that manufacturers grow mutant sized vegetables so they don’t disintegrate in the soup
The food you make at home isn’t reheated while being violently shaken. In order to destroy any pathogens, FDA requirements dictate that soup, once canned, be heated to 250 degrees; many manufacturers speed that process by agitating the can, thereby ensuring that the heat distributes itself more rapidly. This requirement not only changes the flavour of soup, it also changes the way the soup itself is actually made. Soup companies shy away from ingredients that break down in the canning process so they grow special freakish mutant vegetables like carrots which look like tree limbs-they’re like baseball bats. But once they go through the cooking process, they come out looking like the small young ones that you’d put into your soup. Hard to believe? See more here
8. Most commercial ice creams are thickened and stabilised with a load of toxic ingredients
These include a variety of emulsifiers which prevent the ice cream from destabilising. They include polysorbate 80, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, carrageenan, xanthan gum, guar gum and soy lecithin. If your store brand or parlour ice cream melts rapidly, that’s a good sign as it likely has a low overrun and little fat destabilisation, which means a lower percentage of toxic emulsifiers and stabilisers. Better stick to real Italian gelato.
9. Hot dogs are filled with a gross mixture of cuts of mechanically separated chicken, pork, fats, starch or “grain fillers”
The red or light brown dog varieties usually on sale everywhere contain very little real meat. Instead, they are made up of 64 percent mechanically-recovered chicken and 17 percent is pork. Mechanically-recovered meat is the slimy paste created when a carcass — stripped of all traditional cuts — is forced through a metal sieve or blasted with water. The process is banned for beef, but is permitted for pigs and poultry, and the meat produced is ten times cheaper than normal meat. Most hot dogs typically contain, high fructose corn syrup, starch, milk protein, sodium nitrite, flavours, potassium and sodium triphosphates, polyphosphates (E452), sodium ascorbate and carmine. See More
10. Many olive oils labelled as “extra virgin” are actually made with cheaper oils of seeds and nuts
We think of it as one of the healthiest foods we can eat, but to boost profits, some producers have been caught adulterating the oil they label as “extra virgin” with much cheaper hazelnut, soy, or sunflower seed oil, among others, as well as mislabeling its country of origin. Want a pure product? The greener, the better in general. Look for a nutty, peppery flavour–anything less is probably diluted.
This article originally appeared in We Support Organic