Five Additives I Wish Hadn’t Been Added

Hey, it’s Wednesday … Ready for your five things?  Standard Disclaimer:  I’m not a physician or a lawyer and I haven’t consulted either of those professions.  What you see below is my decidedly amateur opinion after a few years of reading, tasting and, ummm … processing … these five food  additives.

1.)  Inulin.  Remember chicory?  Lots of people (especially in Louisiana) add ground chicory root to coffee, mostly to take the edge off the bitterness, but in times past as a  substitute when there wasn’t any coffee to be had.  Recently something called “inulin” has been added to a whole variety of things on the shelves at the Publix.  This story in Slate from a couple of years ago notes many foods that don’t really have much fiber are all of a sudden chock-full of fiber.  Because the fine folks at Cargill decided they could grind up chicory root (and probably some other roots), dump it into your breakfast cereal (and even your marmalade) so they could slap a “Now With Fiber” sticker on it and bump the price up.  Problem is, this fiber isn’t really much good to you.  It just passes on through – like regular dietary fiber – but unlike the naturally-occurring stuff, it takes nutrition with it on the way out.  I can’t tell you what to do, but I try to avoid this stuff.

2.)  High Fructose Corn Syrup.  No matter what Big Ag tries to tell me, I don’t trust this stuff.  I do everything I can to avoid it, but it’s everywhere.  Enough people have complained about this frankenfood stuff to scare some big food producers away recently, but it’s still out there.   Even if you don’t think it’s bad for you, if you’re a soda drinker do a little taste-test.  Find a market that sells Mexican Coca-Cola, buy a bottle and compare it to American Coca-Cola.  The American stuff uses HFCS and the Mexicans use, ummm , sugar.  Guess which one tastes better?

3.)  Aspartame.  You probably know this as Nutrasweet. And many of you have seen the chain e-mail attributing all the world’s ills to it.  It’s probably not as bad as that email suggests.  It’s unlikely to kill you.  But anything that tastes that  … odd … can’t be right.  It’s a frankenfood.  It’s not naturally occurring, and I defy anyone to convince me it’s not harmful if you consume it over long periods of time.  What bothers me most about it is that, as a calorie-free sweetener, a whole lot of people are convinced it’s somehow a health food.  Please, please, please, don’t use this stuff, and for God’s sake, don’t feed it to your kids.  If you need sweetener, just suck it up and use sugar or honey.  Fake food will kill you long before the fifteen calories in a teaspoon of sugar will.

4.)  Dyes.  Blue, red, green, yellow … I don’t care which number or color, they’re lab chemicals.  I’m not even linking this with a source, because no one should need to tell you lab chemicals don’t belong in your food.  Or your children’s.  But you know what?  They’re in there.  And it’s nearly impossible to find Big Ag food that doesn’t have them.  In the US, at least.  The UK is actively discussing an outright ban on food dye.

5.)  Olestra.  Fake fat.  No, really.  This was a big deal when it was introduced back in the fat-free-mania days.  And then people discovered it’s less-appealing side effects.  I won’t describe them here.  It’s still in a few foods out there, but public outcry has removed it from most.  If you need fat in your food (and you do) just use, you know, fat.  Try not to overdo it, but fat is where the flavor is.  It’s OK to consume it.

 

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