Thursday, April 9, 2015

Kale Chips, Styrofoam and Michael Pollan: The Problem with Processed Health Foods

I thought I'd hit a healthy-food bonanza in a Big Lots store... crunchy, salty, yummy kale chips, Low in calories and guilt, yet still chips. Luscious chips.

After all, every aspiring foodie knows that unique, good-quality gourmet treats are found in nooks and small corners of certain bargain stores... Ross, Big Lots, Marshall's. (Oh, the Italian-made artisan pastas in Big Lots!) 

The chips were a steal at $2. Goldbaum's multigrain Kale Chips with a Touch of Salt sell for $5 a 3-oz pack on Amazon, and you're forced to buy a case of 12 for $60.  

I snatched up a bag of these guilt-free chips, and rushed home to savor a snack that's:
  • Certified gluten-free
  • GMO free
  • Preservative free
  • Trans-fat free
  • MSG free 
  • Additive free
  • Kosher certified
  • Baked
  • All natural
  • Low in sugar
At last! The perfect snack for those who won't sacrifice noshing while trodding the road to better health. 

Problem is... these chips are tasteless. Beyond bland. They have the texture and taste of cheap styrofoam. Or a much-used cardboard box. (These chips are salted? Really?)  

I suppose slathered with heaps of guacamole or a high-calorie dip, the unfortunate mouth-feel of these processed kale chips would disappear.  But that misses the whole point of buying guilt-free chips for snacking. 


Which brings me back to the two premises of author Michael Pollan's seminal "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual."  
  • Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.
  • Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
Whether intended as "healthy" or who-gives-a-damn delicious, processed food are processed, and not Real Food. Not produce nor meat nor dairy.  Fake foods. 

I was the fool, taken in by the "health halo" effect of pretty, window-free packaging with promises of guilt-free eating pleasure.  And like most supposedly super-healthy processed foods, it tasted horrible. 

"Kale powder" is listed as the 7th of 8 ingredients in these sallow-yellow chips.  No actual kale is shown as used. 

Homemade kale chips are green, made from kale leaves sprinkled with olive oil and salt, then baked until crunchy.  

At least I only paid $2, a small price to relearn Michael Pollan's smart lessons for eating.

As for the chips, I threw them into our rose planters to mix with the aging redwood bark cover. Might do some good there. And I have a hunch the bugs won't eat them, either.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Twinkies and Skittles for Breakfast? The Cereals that Damage Kids, Adults

Eating most U.S. cereals for breakfast is akin to eating a heaping bowl of pure sugar. Or a pile of candy bars and Twinkies. 

Just as Big Food corporations planned, U.S. breakfast cereals are designed to hook you as customer-for-life via addiction to a super-sweet, sugary surge to start your day...


Americans now consume 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, on average, added to processed foods. Breakfast cereals are among the highest sources of added sugar in our daily diet.  


Sugar-saturated, carb-heavy, chemical-drenched breakfast cereals take a poisonous toll on personal health, especially that of children. 


Physical health and fitness, dental health, even mental health and focus in both children and adults are proven conclusively to be damaged by high daily doses of sugar.

Yet Big Food corporations aggressively market breakfast cereals, especially to to young children, in greedy hopes of hooking them, too.  Consider these facts: 

  • 181 cereals are directly marketed in the U.S. to kids.
  • Kids' cereals with cartoon characters are among the most highly sweetened of all
  • On average, sugar is 34% of calories in cereals marketed to U.S. children
  • Sugar is more than 50% of calories in many cereals aimed at kids. 
  • More than 60 percent of children’s cereals contain a spoonful or more of sugar in every three spoonfuls of cereal. 
  • (Source - "Children's Cereals: Sugar by the Pound," a research project by the Environmental Working Group) 
Anyone eating a typical serving of kids' cereals would consume more than 10 pounds of sugar just from their breakfast bowls each year.  Cereals marketed to kids have 85 percent more sugar, 65 percent less fiber and 60 percent more sodium than those aimed at adults. 

A box of Kellogg's Sugar Smacks is more than 56% sugar, by weight. Incredibly, a box of one store brand, Lieber's Cocoa Frosted Flakes, tested as 88% sugar.  

Don't depend on the FDA  to protect Americans with warning labels that ultra-sugary breakfast cereals are dangerous to your health.  In the 21st century, federal agencies fiercely protect Big Food corporations over public interest.  

Here's my question:  If you wouldn't eat a heap of Hostess snacks... Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Sno Balls, Zingers and Honeybuns... for breakfast, why would you eat a brimming bowl of sugary breakfast cereal?

If you wouldn't serve to your kids a mound of Butter Fingers, Skittles, Milky Ways, Hot Tamales and Sour Patch Kids for breakfast, why would you give them a generous helping of cereal loaded with sugar, carbs, fillers, chemicals, and artificial colors and flavors?

Can't your kids depend on you to guard their health and welfare by feeding them nutritiously, rather than carelessly? 

Stop eating and serving sugar for breakfast.  You'll feel better and likely live longer, and so will your kids.  

And as a bonus, you'll thwart Big Food corporations from targeting and harming you, your loved ones and all Americans for the sake of profits. 

Related Reading

Lucky Charms: Poster Child for Industrial Junk Food? Fat Profits, Fat Kids


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Target, Walmart Selling Fake Ginkgo, Garlic, Ginseng Thanks to Political Loophole

This week, the New York State Attorney General charged Walmart, Target, Walgreens and GNC with selling "mislabeled" and "adulterated" dietary supplements.  

No surprise, at least to Fake Food Watch readers.  (See below for my list of other dietary supplements that should also be investigated by authorities... ) 


Many health supplements are fakes. Most, actually. Frauds. Bogus, pricey bait for consumers.  Neither effective, nor worth the billions Americans waste annually in vain hopes of improving their health. 

That's because "These drugs are not subject to the F.D.A.’s approval because of a loophole in a 1994 federal law (spearheaded by Utah Sen Orrin G. Hatch who received funding from supplement makers), fraudulent products can easily reach consumers without accountability or oversight," per Salon.com.    


Republican Sen. Hatch berated 2012 proposed legislation created to force greater accountability in the lucrative dietary supplement industry. 

Sen. Hatch bitterly railed against an amendment that would ..."require facilities engaged in the manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding of dietary supplements to register with the FDA, provide a description with a list of all ingredients, as well as a copy of the labeling for each dietary supplement product.  Additionally, the facilities must also register with respect to new, reformulated, and discontinued dietary supplement products. 
While I appreciate my colleague’s commitment, his amendment is based on the misguided presumption that the current regulatory framework for dietary supplements is flawed..."  (Source - U.S. Senate website of Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah)
Findings of the New York State Attorney General?  Of 390 DNA barcoding tests performed on 78 samples of 24 generic products sold at the four retailers: 
  • At Walmart, "4 percent actually contained the ingredients listed on the label."
  • At Walgreens, 18 percent contained the listed ingredients.
  • At GNC, 22 percent contained the listed ingredients.
  • At Target, 44 percent contained the listed ingredients.
  • (Source - Food Safety News)
Each sample was tested five times; samples were selected from all regions of New York state. The dietary supplements tested were garlic, ginseng, gingko biloba, St. John's wort, echinacea, valerian root, and saw palmetto.

Even I'm amazed at the incredible array of fake fillers found in these supplements in lieu of ingredients listed on the labels. "In many cases, the authorities said, the supplements contained little more than cheap fillers like rice and house plants, or substances that could be hazardous to people with food allergies," per the New York Times.

Specific ingredients found in supplements tested often included:


  • Dracaena, a houseplant (right photo)
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Spruce
  • Pine
  • Palm
  • Wild carrot
  • Grass
  • Allium, from the garlic family
  • Radish
  • Daisy
  • Mung bean
Friends, don't waste your hard-earned money on dietary supplements. The industry is barely regulated. And profiteers, of course, prey on this regulatory loophole to line their rich pockets at your expense and the expense of your health hopes.

Among other products I urge state and federal regulators to also investigate for misleading consumers about the health benefits and/or ingredients are:

Raspberry ketones - See "Raspberry Ketones: Another Industrial Food Quasi-Scam?"

Friday, January 30, 2015

Detecting Fake Food: Take this App to the Market

I'm not an app person. Most make life busier and more complicated, not easier.  And like all of us, my smart-phone romance is already too intense.  

But I found one, free of charge, that fits the bill:  super easy  and fast for anyone to use and understand, and with a database of 80,000 grocery products found in U.S.stores.

I strongly recommend that you take this app to the market, and use it.  (Yes, that includes tech-befuddled baby boomers!) 

Food Scores by The Environmental Working Group, released in late 2014, assigns to each product an overall score from 1.0 ("best score") to 10.0 "worst score"), and below, shows the Score Breakdown by:
  • Nutrition Concern
  • Ingredient Concern
  • Processing Concern.
Below that is a third, succinct section that lists Top Findings, both positive and negative, for that product.  A fourth, more detailed section follows with Other Information.

One feature I especially like: products can be quickly either  scanned or keyed into the app. No holding up aisle traffic or restless kids.  


Food Scores by The Environmental Working Group can be downloaded for free at the iTunes and Google stores.  All information about this app, including score formulations, can be found at The Environmental Working Group website.  

Use this handy tool to easily detect and rank fake food in the grocery store.  

Use it to sort through the marketing BS, the pretty packaging, and the intentionally misleading lures of industrial corporations.  

Use it to improve the your health and that of your loved ones. Today. 

Related Reading

Top 12 Worst Food Additives in American Meals



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Top 12 Worst Food Additives in American Meals

The first "Dirty Dozen List of Food Additives" was released last month by the Environmental Working Group. 

The new guide-list of  chemical-based food additives is based on extensive scientific studies and on  EWG's massive new database, Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, which catalogs "more than 80,000 foods and 5,000 ingredients from about 1,500 brands."  

"The guide covers food additives associated with serious health concerns, ingredients banned or restricted in other countries, and other substances that shouldn't be in food. It turns the spotlight on some of the worst failures of the federal Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory process for additives...
" 'With thousands of ingredients lurking in food, EWG wanted to bring attention to additives that may have implications for human health, and we wanted to expose how the food regulatory system has failed us,' Johanna Congleton, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist, said."
Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives

"Food should be good for you. But some is not. More than 10,000 additives are allowed in food.  Some are direct additives that are deliberately formulated into processed food. Others are indirect additives that get into food during processing, storage and packaging... 

"The guide covers ingredients associated with serious health concerns, additives banned or restricted in other countries and other substances that shouldn’t be in food."

1. Nitrites and nitrates -  "Used as a color fixative in cured meats, bacon, bologna, frankfurters, deviled ham, meat spread, spiced ham, Vienna sausages, smoked-cured tuna fish products, and in smoke-cured shad and salmon."  (Source - "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives", 2009) 

"In 2010, scientists at the World Health Organization... declared that ingested nitrites and nitrates are probable human carcinogens...  Studies have linked nitrites to stomach cancer. Some data also suggest an association with cancer of the esophagus; one study showed an increased risk in people who eat cured meats more often. There is also evidence that nitrites may be associated with brain and thyroid cancers... (Source - Environmental Working Group)

2. Potassium bromate - "This dough conditioner and bleaching agent, which was once widely used in bread baking, is considered... possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  In 1993, the World Health Organization recommended its removal from all food, and though it's banned in many countries, it's still permitted in the United States and Japan, where it continues to be used in buns at Burger King, Arby's, and Wendy's, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest...

"Very toxic when taken internally. Burns and skin irritation have been reported from its industrial use.  In toothpaste, it has been reported to have caused inflammation and bleeding of the gums.  

"The JECFA said in 1993 that new data about potassium bromate showed long-term toxicity and carcenogenicity including kidney tumors, tumors of the lining of the stomach, and thyroid tumors in rats..."  (Source - "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives", 2009) 


3. Propyl paraben - "Parabens are... widely used as preservatives in foods, cosmetics, toiletries and pharmaceuticals... In a previous study, it was demonstrated... that exposure of post-weaning mammals to butyl paraben adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system. In the present study, it is shown that propyl paraben also adversely affects the hormonal secretion and the male reproductive functions." (Source - National Institutes of Health, 2002 study

"Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity... Parabens are also linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation." (Source - The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics)

4. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) - "Here's a question for you: What food additive does the Food and Drug Administration deem 'generally recognized as safe,' while the National Institutes of Health, says it's 'reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen?'

"Here's a hint: It's a preservative, and you can find it in (drum roll, please): potato chips, lard, butter, cereal, instant mashed potatoes, preserved meat, beer, baked goods, dry beverage and dessert mixes, chewing gum, and other foods. Oh, also: rubber, petroleum products, and, of course, wax food packaging.  
The molecule in question is butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)... "  (Source - LiveScience.com

"BHA is a petroleum-derived food additive that reduces the rate at which food spoils. It... is now used in a wide range of foods to prevent fat from going rancid. BHA is used in beverages, ice cream, snack foods, breakfast cereals, dehydrated foods and mixes, beer, chewing gum, candy, baked goods, instant mashed potatoes, and sausage.

"California’s Proposition 65 recognizes BHA as a carcinogen. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances lists BHA as a suspected gastrointestinal or liver toxicant, neurotoxicant, and respiratory toxicant. The Japanese National Institute of Health Sciences’ World Wildlife Fund lists BHA as a suspected endocrine toxicant. The Relational Database of Hazardous Chemicals and Occupational Diseases lists BHA as a suspected immunotoxicant and skin or sense organ toxicant."  (Source - Nutrition411.com, "Where Health Care Professionals Go for Information"

5. Butylated Hydroxtoluene (BHT)"BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is a lab-made chemical that is added to foods as a preservative. People also use it as medicine. BHT is used to treat genital herpes and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Some people apply BHT directly to the skin for cold sores."  (Source - WedMD.com)

"Extensive research has shown high doses of this ingredient to cause significant damage to the lungs, liver and kidneys. Oral consumption of this ingredient has also been shown to have toxic effects on the body's blood coagulation system...

"Because there lies a significant amount of conflicting research regarding the carcinogenic effects of BHT, it remains a controversial ingredient around the world. The US has banned it from being used in baby food because of its potential association with hyperactivity in children. It's also banned from food in Japan." (Source - TruthInAging.com)


"The FDA says that the possibility that BHT may convert other ingested substances into toxic or cancer-causing additives should be investigated. BHT is prohibited as a food additives in the United Kingdom."  (Source - "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives" by Ruth Winter, 2009)

6. Propyl Gallate - Propyl Gallate is "a preservative that is often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT. It is used as a food preservative in foods that contain oils and fats, to stop food from spoiling. Some foods that commonly contain Propyl Gallate include... vegetable oil, meat products, soup bases, cereals, chewing gum...

"Propyl Gallate can cause allergic reactions in the form of an asthma attack in some people. It can also cause stomach and skin irritation, liver damage, kidney damage and has the potential to increase your chances of having cancer." (Source - StopKillingMyKids.com)


"New research suggests the dog food preservative, propyl gallate, may be responsible for causing a potentially dangerous health issue for dogs. That’s because of the chemical’s unique ability to mimic the negative effects of the female hormone, estrogen.

"... recent studies have linked propyl gallate with a special group of hormone-like compounds known as xenoestrogens (which) have the potential to adversely affect reproductive health.3 In humans, they have the ability to transform a normal breast cell into a cancer cell. Propyl gallate can also affect a developing fetus as well as decrease the sperm count in males." (Source - DogFoodAdvisor.com)
7. Theobromine - "A study conducted in Utah between 1983 and 1986, and published in 1993, showed a possible association between theobromine and an increased risk of prostate cancer in older men.... Prenatal and infant exposure to theobromine appeared possibly associated with hypospadias and testicular cancer in one population study.

As with caffeine, theobromine can cause sleeplessness, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, as well as contribute to increased production of urine. Additional side effects include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and withdrawal headaches."  (Source - Wikipedia)
"...closely related to caffeine.  It (theobromine) is used as a diuretic, smooth muscle relaxant, heart stimulant, and blood vessel dilator. "   (Source - "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives" by Ruth Winter, 2009)
Hundreds of American foods, most containing processed cocoa or chocolate, include theobromine. Click here for a list of the 189 Foods Highest in Theobromine. (Source - Nutrition Data at Self.com: Know What You Eat) 
Other Top 12 Worst Food Additives
8.  Secret flavor ingredients
9.  Artificial colors
10. DiacetylDiacetyl is a butter flavoring used in some food products like butter, butterscotch, butter flavored popcorn and some alcoholic beverages, especially beer and chardonnay wines.  
"The United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has suggested diacetyl, when used in artificial butter flavoring, may be hazardous when heated and inhaled over a long period. Workers in several factories that manufacture artificial butter flavoring have been diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare and serious disease of the lungs. The cases found have been mainly in young, healthy, nonsmoking males.
"Two bills in the California Legislature seek to ban the use of diacetyl. A 2010 U.S. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin and companion Worker Alert recommend employers use safety measures to avoid exposing employees to the potentially deadly effects of butter flavorings and other flavoring substances containing diacetyl or its substitutes."  (Source - Wikipedia)
11. Phosphate-based food additives - "Recently, a high-normal serum phosphate concentration has also been found to be an independent predictor of cardiovascular events and mortality in the general population. Therefore, phosphate additives in food are a matter of concern, and their potential impact on health may well have been underappreciated."  (Source - National Institutes of Health, 2012)
12. Aluminum-based food additives - "There are six aluminum salts that have been approved as food additives in the United States. The salts most commonly used are sodium aluminum phosphates. They are added to cake mixes, frozen dough, pancake mixes, self-rising flours, processed cheese and cheese foods and beer (in aluminum cans). Just one slice of individually wrapped processed cheese can contain up to 50 mg of aluminum. It is thought that the cheeseburger may contain one of the highest aluminum contents of any food...
"Dangers of Aluminum Toxicity -
  • It is particularly poisonous to the nervous system with a range of symptoms that can include disturbed sleep, nervousness, emotional instability, memory loss, headaches, and impaired intellect.
  • It can stop the body's ability to digest and make use of calcium, phosphorus and fluoride. This prevents bone growth and reduces bone density...
  • Toxicity can also result in aching muscles, speech problems, anemia, digestive problems, lowered liver function, colic and impaired kidney function."                  (Source - Dr. Anita Pepi)
"Many... question the safety of these (aluminum-based) food additives, however. The group known as the Department of the Planet Earth petitioned the FDA in September 2005 to rescind the GRAS (acceptable) rating for these additives, citing studies linking aluminum food additive ingestion to Alzheimer’s disease." (Source - LiveStrong.com)
What Should You Do?
Study up!  Start by reading the Environmental Working Group's  "Dirty Dozen List of Food Additives."  

Lose processed and packaged foods from your food choices, and from that of your loved ones.  Now. Today. If not fully feasible, become an avid label reader. Make informed food choices.

Do it for your health. Please!

More from the Environmental Working Group

Top 15 Most Pesticide-Free Fruits, Vegetables

Pesticide-Ridden Produce: The 12 Most Infected Fruits, Vegetables


Friday, October 31, 2014

Carl's Jr. Salt-Bomb Wins Vote for Most Disgusting New Fast Food

Driving home from our son's wedding in Northern California last weekend, we were hoping to find fast, healthy food offerings near the freeway. Foolishly hoping, it seems. 

Healthy options were scarce, and limited to sugary yogurts and a few sandwiches on whole grain bread (Starbucks), and several carb-and-salt-heavy 6-inch subs loaded with fresh-like veggies (Subway)

Culinary weapons-of-human-destruction were easy to spot, though, at all the usual fast-food suspects... and were garishly hawked by Taco Bell, Jack-in-the-Box, McDonald's, and Carl's Jr, among others.

We voted Carl's, Jr's brand-new (introduced on October 22) Double Loaded Omelet Biscuit our most disgusting fast-food sighting of this road trip.  And for good reason... 

Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for Carl’s Jr., boasted "The new Double Loaded Omelet Biscuit, packed with three different breakfast meats... We make them fresh every morning by folding crumbled sausage, chopped bacon, diced ham and shredded Jack and cheddar cheeses into an egg omelet. Then we stack two of them inside one of our signature Made from Scratch Biscuits that we make by hand and bake fresh every morning. That great combination of eggs, sausage, bacon, ham and cheese – times two – will be sure to fill you up in the morning in an absolutely delicious way.”

Mr. Haley failed to mention the 1,960 mg of sodium (salt) in one of these drippy concoctions. That's equal to the salt in 15 small orders of McDonald's fries.  Equal to the salt in 9 servings of Doritos Nacho Cheese tortilla chips

He also failed to mention the 820 calories (equal to 4 two-packs of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups)  and 58 grams of fat (equal to 2 Big Macs) found in Carl's Jr.'s oozing Double Loaded Omelet Biscuit.  

And, of course, he failed to mention more than 100 chemicals, emulsifiers, additives, fillers, and artificial flavors and colors included as ingredients in this salty-fatty food bomb. 

Clearly, and by a wide margin, Carl's Jr.'s fevered bid to build and proudly sell an astonishingly unhealthy breakfast product wins our vote for the most disgusting fast-food last week along Highway 101.  

My question continues to be... why the heck does our government allow this and similar addictive, poisonous fake foods to be sold to hook the American public into ruining their health?   

Why does our government, which is tasked to protect Americans, allow mega-corporations to deliberately fatten and poison people in order to fatten corporate profits?

Related Reading
"Salt Sugar Fat" - Stunning Big Food Tactics to Hook, Trick, Harm Americans

Walmart, Target Fatten Profits by Fattening Football Fans, Children


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Walmart, Target Fatten Profits by Fattening Football Fans, Children

This recent Walmart "Game Time" ad colorfully promotes a party meal of:
  • Red Baron Pepperoni Pizza, frozen
  • Lay's or Doritos "Party-Size" Bag of chips
  • Great Value Chicken Wings "Sections," frozen  
  • Gatorade Sports Drinks, 8 20-oz bottles
  • Velveeta (a "Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product
  • Nabisco Ritz Crackers, Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies in "Family-Size" packs
  • M&M's Peanut Candies, 42-oz package
  • Football-topped cupcakes
And Ro-Tel, canned tomatoes and green chilis (plus salt. calcium chloride, citric acid, and unidentified "spices") presumably to be mixed with Velveeta, and then dipped with Doritos chips.  

Walmart's fun "Game Time" meal is a time-bomb of salt, sugar, and fat cleverly engineered by industrial mega-corporations to maximize sales and profits.  

(For details, read  "Salt Sugar Fat" - Stunning Big Food Tactics to Hook, Trick, Harm Americans.) 

Problem is... that time-bomb will detonate in your body. In most countries, this highly-processed industrial-concocted "meal" would be viewed as an inedible morass of amped-up salt and sugar flavors. Disgusting fake food. 

This "meal" is guaranteed lethal to your health. A diet of salt, sugar, and fat, laced heavily with hundreds of chemicals...preservatives, fillers, emulsifiers, artificial colors and flavors... has been scientifically linked over and over to diseases including diabetes, heart disease, even cancers.  

A massive new study by the American Association for Cancer Research found that 25% of cancer diagnoses are directly related to "poor dietary habits" and "obese or overweight," usually stemming from poor diet and exercise.  

I don't mean to call-out Walmart as singularly responsible for ruining Americans' health. Most major U.S. food retail corporations are to blame for fattening profits by selling products that fatten customers.  

Take, for instance, this Target ad, which was wrapped around a late August "Back-to-School" promotion.  

The Target ad prominently pushes the big three of highly processed, intentionally addictive U.S. junk food favorites of children... Kraft macaroni & cheese, Coca-Cola soft drinks, and Doritos chips.  

Convenience foods for cheap prices.  At back-to-school time when time and money are scarce for lower-income parents.  

The solution?  Don't buy this junk.  And as much as possible, don't buy from corporate retailers who sell this junk.  Buy from farmer's markets and green grocers.  Buy from stores that specialize in higher quality products. In my neighborhood, that includes Sprouts, Whole Foods, and often, Trader Joe's.  

Remember..  Products that don't sell will be dropped by markets and ultimately discontinued by manufacturers.  And retailers with sale drops will respond by changing their product lines.

We, the consumers have all the power.  Let's use it to dump highly processed fake-foods from our football parties, from our childrens' palates, and from our tables.  

Let's use our power as consumers to take back our health.

Related Reading

"Salt Sugar Fat" - Stunning Big Food Tactics to Hook, Trick, Harm Americans



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Lattes: To Drink or Not to Drink?

Summer is over, and so is my two-month sabbatical from Fake Food Watch. 

(I spent my hiatus developing a sister project, LostAmericanRecipes.com, which features U.S. heritage recipes, both homespun and  hoity-toity, all without highly processed ingredients.  But I digress... )

For Starbucks aficionados. the demise of summer means the aromatic return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, my favorite Fall concoction.  


Apparently nearly everyone's favorite Starbucks fare, judging by how early PSLs seasonally reappear at the coffee shop retailer with $15 billion in U.S.sales in 2013. (Yes, that's billion, not million!)

But this year, the burning PSL question is: To drink or not to drink?

Recently, a top health blogger shrilly berated Starbucks to "Stop putting toxic chemicals in your Pumpkin Spice Lattes," and sharply warned all of us to "think before we drink."  Her message went semi-viral in food digital circles.  

Are the blogger's complaints credible? She makes some good points. Other points, though. seem obvious and severely overstated.   Among her objections to Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes (and my brief reactions) are:

No actual pumpkin in PSLs - Someone thought there was actual pumpkin in PSLs? They didn't realize that flavored, sweet syrups are commonly used in beverages? The syrups openly displayed in every Starbucks on planet Earth?

"Toxic" dose of sugar - A grande (16 oz) PSL contains about 12 teaspoons (50 grams) of sugar.  That's a lot of sugar for anyone. But toxic?  Medically, maybe for diabetics.  For non-diabetics, depends on how loosely "toxic" is defined, and on each person's daily diet.  

Made with "Monsanto Milk" - Starbucks' suppliers use milk from "cows fed GMO corn, soy, and cottonseed."  All non-organic milk in the U.S. is from cows nurtured on GMO feed.  In fact, unless bearing the USDA Certified Organic label, organic milk might also trace back to cows fed GMO crops.  ("Monsanto Milk" is quite the slick phrase, I must admit.  Sounds scary but it's actually the norm in the U.S.)

Possible Pesticide Residue  - Always true for any crop, including coffee beans, that are not organic.  True of every non-organic coffee, which is most coffee sold worldwide.  Eating only organic is a personal choice. 

Caramel Color Level IV - Artificial food coloring is brewed from chemicals, and never carries nutritional benefits. Caramel food coloring is no exception.  Per this blogger's tiniest fine-print, "It's the most widely used food coloring in the world, which makes it easy to consume excessive amounts."    

She's correct that artificial coloring in anything can cause allergic reactions. Also, if ingested in inhumanly extreme amounts, some artificial ingredients can prove carcinogenic.  And indeed, "there are safer alternatives available to food manufacturers."

But toxic due to an occasional Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte? Hogwash. Near impossible

Ambiguous Natural Flavor -  The blogger gratuitously adds, "... that can be made from substances like petroleum." The same can be said for more than 95% of all processed foods, which represents about 90% of foods sold in supermarkets and 99% of fast food outlets.

Preservatives & Sulfites - Again, she's piling on scary superlatives.  The same can be said for more than 95% of all processed foods, which represents about 90% of foods sold in supermarkets and 99% of fast food outlets.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

I'm an unabashed supporter of organic foods, free of chemicals, additives, fillers, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors.  I'm a staunch supporter of freedom of both informed choice and clear labeling of all ingredients.  

I'm also a supporter of commonsense, fact-based journalism.  I don't know much about this particular blogger, who glamorously prides herself on leading "investigations" to help "show you how to get the healthy body you want.

Others do hold strong views on this blogger though. Click here for an article by Science-Based Medicine.org, The Jenny McCarthy of Food: Enter the Font of Misinformation that is The Food Babe.

As for me, will I treat myself to an occasional Pumpkin Spice Latte? Of course. In fact, I'm heading to Starbucks right this moment for my delectable first PSL of the season!

Related Fake Food Reading

Starbucks: Trying Harder than Taco Bell to Do the Right Thing

Brouhaha in a Strawberry Frappuccino: Starbucks Tries to Get It Right But Falters


Monday, June 30, 2014

Top 15 Most Pesticide-Free Fruits, Vegetables

For freshest taste, always choose organic produce over non-organic grocery store produce, which is lavishly treated with chemicals to prolong shipping time and shelf life.  

Fifteen fruits and veggies grown conventionally, though, are largely free of pesticides, per the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) annual survey of the dirtiest and cleanest produce grown in the U.S. 

(The EWG publicly ranks results of USDA and FDA testing each year of 32,000 samples of 48 non-organic fruits and veggies commonly found in the U.S.  Click here for  "Pesticide-Ridden Produce: The 12 Most Infected Fruits, Vegetables.")

For these 2014 Clean Fifteen, there's no need to spend your hard-earned money on organic if your goal is to avoid ingesting the poisons of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.  

Noted the EWG about Clean Fifteen vegetables. "Detecting multiple pesticide residues is extremely rare... only about 5.5 percent... had two or more pesticides."  About fruits, the EWG reported, "No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than 4 pesticides."   (Yes, some of the dirtiest produce tested positive for up to 13 pesticides. One grape was found with residue of an incredible 15 pesticides...)

The Good News: Top 15 Produce Least Likely to be Infected with Pesticides

1.  Asparagus

2. Avocados - "Avocados were the cleanest; only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides."

3. Cabbage

4. Cantaloupe - 61 percent of cantaloupe tested had no pesticide residue.

5. Cauliflower

6. Eggplant

7. Grapefruit

8. Kiwi - 82 percent of kiwi tested had no pesticide residue.

9. Mangoes - 88 percent of mangoes tested had no pesticide residue.

10. Onions

11. Papayas - 80 percent of papayas tested had no pesticide residue.

12. Pineapples - 89 percent of pineapples tested had no pesticide residue.

13. Sweet corn

14. Sweet peas

15. Sweet potatoes

Avocados. Mangoes. Sweet corn. Pineapples.  Cantaloupes. Cabbage for cole slaw.  Sounds like the makings for a scrumptious summer party! 

Enjoy!!!  And pass the guacamole to me...