Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Let's Read Food Labels: Tuesday's Tips

There is probably nothing that will educate you more about the garbage in your food more than reading the ingredients labels. You will probably find, as I did, that you do not know what most of the ingredients are. To me that is scary.

In order to understand what I was eating, I had to buy a dictionary. The book I bought at the time is pictured here; the copyright date is 1994. There may be a more current version available now, but I still find all the answers I am looking for in here. The only problem is I don't like the answers.

This is another reason I have shifted our family's foods to organics. The labels on organic foods are rarely difficult to read, and I feel better knowing exactly what's in them. The absence of artificial preservatives has not been a problem, nor have I missed the artificial food coloring, sweeteners and flavorings, herbicides, fungicides, hormones and pesticides.

From the introduction of this book alone, I learned that:

  • From 70 to 80 percent of food is packaged in various polymers, some of which contain potential cancer-causing agents that migrate into our food every day.

  • Tranquilizing drugs are injected into many pigs immediately before transport to slaughter, making a withdrawal period impossible and giving diners unexpected sedation with their pork dish.

  • Sixty percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides, and 30 percent of all insecticides are carcinogens (cancer causing agents).

I'll just touch on one thing you should read up on here, the concept of GRAS by the FDA. You can read the FDA's FAQ's at this link, but be sure to read another source as well; the picture will be a bit clearer. Our government's Food and Drug Administration has developed guidelines for every artificial ingredient; these criteria determine the maximum amount of each ingredient acceptable in a serving of food. This guideline is called GRAS, Generally Regarded As Safe. When you browse through a book such as this one and find out how many artificial ingredients are considered BOTH carcinogenic and GRAS, it will blow your mind. Far too many ingredients in our foods contain 8 or more syllables and cannot even be pronounced by the average reader, much less recognized as a food. Today's Tuesday Tip: Educate yourself on what you eat.

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