Too Good To Be True
Deceptive Marketing That Will Sabotage Our Health
We all want to eat right, stave off colds and flu, prevent heart attacks and cancer but we don’t always have the right information to do so. That’s why I’m here. ;-)
A dear, sweet, precious friend of mine rushed to her own defense when I saw her toddler eating potato chips. I hadn’t said a word, I promise. She said, “They are kettle cooked!” I’m sure the confused look on my face was what made her go further. She then asked, “That’s healthy, right?” Marketing made her believe that kettle cooked was such a benefit in these potato chips that they had to be more acceptable than ones that aren’t. She just assumed “kettle cooked” in bold print on the wrapper had to mean “healthy”. Don’t laugh, we’ve all been led to believe lies from food marketers.
Follow the money. Why do pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars convincing us that we prevent death from pneumonia with a vaccine, get a perfect erection anytime with a pill, forget all our troubles with a pill, quit smoking easily by taking a pill? Public service? No. Altruism? No. Money. It is their job. It’s the same with food manufacturers but because we have to eat, and we think the FDA has our back they don’t seem as villainous when they push their poison.
Why do food manufactures spend billions of dollars convincing us that milk does a body good, pork is the other white meat, Frosted Flakes are GRRRREAT, yogurt will keep us regular, if we play outside we must drink Gatorade, on and on? Public service? Altruism? No and No. Money.
Read the Package
The TV ad may make us put something on our grocery list but most decisions are made in the grocery aisle. The packaging is the most powerful marketing tool a product has. Read it carefully and be suspicious of the boldest and largest statements. ALWAYS read the ingredients.
Bottled salad dressings, ready-to-heat and eat items like soups and frozen meals, cereals including granola, crackers, chips and breads are the worst offenders, containing a multitude of unrecognizable ingredients.
I’ve seen packages of frozen chicken breasts with “gluten free” printed on them. Worse yet, ice cream boxes with “gluten free” on them. Duh, chicken and milk should have no wheat in them unless they put it in there for some un-natural reason. My point is, “gluten free” has become the latest marketing gimmick. Most people have no idea what gluten is or what it does or doesn’t do, they just know it’s bad so they reach for the package that says “GLUTEN FREE” in the biggest lettering.
Another “gluten-free” pitfall is in baked goods and baking mixes. To replace the gluten all kinds of chemicals and tons of sugar are used as binders, thickeners, and flavorings, thus making most gluten-free items as unhealthy as the ones containing gluten. Plus, all grains turned into flour raise blood sugar and increase insulin production and should be avoided if inflammation or high blood sugar are issues.
A whole food, plant-based diet would be naturally gluten free unless one was consuming wheat berries, rye seeds, or other whole grains that contain gluten protein. Glutinous grains are not readily available unprocessed, so they wouldn’t normally be consumed in a whole foods diet. That makes avoiding gluten a no-brainer. Just shop in the produce department, pick up some dried beans, some seasoning herbs and there you have it, a clean, healthy, gluten-free diet. If you choose to add a little meat, just keep it grass-fed, free-range, or wild-caught.
Pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables, hormones and antibiotics given to farm animals, and chemicals used in food production all cause inflammation, hormone imbalance, and obesity.
I always preach to buy as much organic as you can afford, especially animal products. They are liable to contain the most toxins and lack the ability to clean up after themselves as they are devoid of fiber and phytonutrients.
Vegetables are not so cut and dried. I use the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List to guide my purchases. This year’s list of most contaminated fruits and vegetables is as follows:
10-Sweet bell peppers
I try to ONLY buy organic from this list. If organic is not available it is usually because the fruit or vegetable is out of season and I try to eat as seasonally as possible.
EWG also has a Clean Fifteen list. These are generally safe and relatively free of contaminants, in most cases, because the skins are thick and removed completely before consumption.
5-Sweet peas frozen
EWG noted that a small amount of sweet corn, papaya, and summer squash are grown in the US from genetically engineered seed stock. If you wish to avoid GMO’s just buy these grown organically.
Pre-packaged or Processed
Reading the ingredient label is key to knowing exactly what is in the product. In a whole foods diet there aren’t many pre-packaged or processed items used so this is usually not an issue. In fact, reading food package labels is a good way to reinforce whole-food eating because our eyes are opened to the amount of poisons in the packaged foods we thought were wholesome and healthy. My general rule is, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it isn’t safe to eat. Once the pantry is cleaned of all chemical-laden processed foods we thought were healthy, we can then start to find some items that are clean enough for a whole-foods diet. One of the items that comes to mind is a “Minute Rice Multi-grain Medley” I found recently. It only contains rice and quinoa. When I was on the dark side, eating the Standard American Diet, I would have chosen a Cajun rice mix or Rice A Roni with suspicious flavorings, chemical preservatives, separators, binders, and msg.
Another misleading label is “All Natural”. Most consumers have become leery of this one because it has been busted before. Arsenic, ricin, and cyanide are all “natural”. No kidding. One “all natural”, seemingly healthy ingredient found in many foods is carrageenan. It is made from seaweed and used as a thickener in chocolate milk, yogurt, cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, ice cream, and non-dairy cheeses made from rice and soy, almond and soy milks, and ice cream made from soy, coconut, and almond milks. Studies link carrageenan to increased inflammation, which promotes cancer cell growth.
Soy isolates, wheat and corn byproducts, eggs, milk solids or other milk products are commonly used in prepackaged foods and there are so many names for different ingredients they are impossible to list here. They are all “natural” but not healthy.
Read the ingredient label. It is easy to tell if an ingredient really doesn’t belong. For example, a corn chips ingredient label should say corn, oil, and salt.
There is an old saying about making assumptions and it is often true when we buy packaged food. Ass-u-me. :-O Example, canned Le Suer English Peas contain peas, water, sugar, and salt. Which ingredient doesn’t belong in canned peas? Sugar. When you start to habitually read package ingredients you will be shocked at how many products contain sugar, soy, and corn syrup. All inflammatory and disease-promoting.
Be a label-reader and you will be healthier. It’s that simple! There is a double benefit to reading labels. When your eyes are opened to the amount of poison that is hidden in the food supply you will also know to be suspicious of restaurant foods.
Here are a few yummy recipes to replace some of your prepackaged foods and not miss them!
All the best,
Mango BBQ Beans
Active time: 15 minutes.
Total time: 1 hour
Plain old BBQ beans are nice and everything, but mango gives them another dimension—a tart, tropical sweetness that makes them a bit more special. Barbeque flavors really benefit from a nice, long cooking time. Let these simmer on the stove for at least 45 minutes so that the beans absorb more of the flavor and the mango cooks down and melds with the tomato sauce. Serve with greens and rice.
3 tablespoons vegetable broth
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 mango, seeded and chopped small
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable broth
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or ¼ teaspoon if you want it less spicy
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 to 3 tablespoons agave nectar
Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic in the broth with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent.
Add the mango, tomato sauce, broth, red pepper flakes, coriander, salt, and kidney beans. Turn up the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot, leaving a little room for steam to escape, and let cook for about 45 minutes, stirring often. The sauce should thicken and the mangoes should cook down a great deal.
Turn off the heat, mix in the agave and liquid smoke, and let the beans sit for about 5 minutes. Taste for sweetness and add more agave if needed. Adjust the salt and seasonings, and serve.
Flax and Sesame Crackers
1 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup unhulled sesame seeds
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup water, or more if needed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until a dough forms, adding more water if needed.
Spread evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet. Score into squares, so they break evenly after baking.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned.
Note: A variety of seasonings can be substituted for or used in addition to the onion and garlic powder.
Try fresh or dried herbs, chili powder, nutritional yeast, Dr. Fuhrman's MatoZest, cinnamon, chopped
dates or raisins.
These nutty, subtly-sweet, brownie–textured squares are a deviation from my Figgy Bar recipe. I keep single-serving applesauce cups and apple juice bottles on hand just to make them both. I use the empty applesauce cup to “measure” the juice and agave nectar. I use the term “measure” loosely. I made these in muffin cups and I like their shape texture and portability.
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup walnuts or pecans
½ cup dried unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ounces applesauce (one single serving container)
4 ounces agave nectar
6 ounce apple juice pack
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup frozen blueberries
In a food processor, grind ¾ of the oats and place along with the rest of the oats in a large mixing bowl. Coarsely grind the nuts and add them to the oats. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Puree the banana with the apple juice in the food processor and add to the dry ingredients. Mix all the wet ingredients except the blueberries into the oat mixture blending thoroughly. Finally, stir in the blueberries.
Spread the batter into an 8x8 baking pan or pyrex , or use an ice cream scoop to place into muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.