Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beware the Bargain Bagel: Scary, Stealth Ingredients; Undisclosed Animal Products

I was chagrined when Ron, my husband, bought Stater Bros Country Harvest Blueberry Bagels last week.  They were the least expensive bagels on the local grocer's shelves, and budget matters in our home. He was proud to find a bona fide bargain, of course.... and with blueberries! 

My mistake. I'd included bagels on the shopping list, and forgot to be specific: fresh bagels from the store bakery or local bagelry.  At minimum, store-bought bagels made without additives or preservatives. (And made with whole grains, if possible.)

Real bagels made with real ingredients, not industrial-made food. Not fake food.

Ron's bargain bagels are a perfect example of modern industrial food, packed with additives, preservatives, dyes, and fillers to produce a cheap "bagel" with white-bread texture. 

Like Stater Bros Country Harvest Plain Bagels (pictured here), ingredients for the blueberry bagels include:

  • Enriched Unbleached Flour - "Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid"
  • Water, sugar, salt
  • Calcium Propionate -  a mold inhibitor also used to prevent milk fever in cows. Per  the Pesticide Action Network North America, calcium propionate is slightly toxic.
  • Potassium Sorbate used to prevent mold and microbes and increase shelf life.  Is a known skin, eye and respiratory irritant.
  • Propionic Acid inhibits mold and some bacteria. Also used to make animal feed, pesticides, and industrial chemicals.  When propanoic acid is infused directly into rodents brains, it causes hyperactivity, dystonia, and social impairment.
  • Mono-Diglycerides - fatty acids derived from both plant and animal fats, including pork. Not suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and those who avoid pork products. Used to emulsify (blend) processed foods.
  • Calcium Sulfate -  an industrial chemical and "is a common component of fouling deposits in industrial heat" systems, made by milling gypsum rock.  In industrial baking, calcium sulfate is an economical filler used in lieu of fresher, more expensive ingredients. 
  • Tricalcium Phosphate - a filler and anti-caking additive also used in porcelain and dental powders, antacids, and bone tissue replacements.
  • Hydrated Monoglyceride - another fatty acid  derived from both plant and animal fats, including pork. Used "aemulsifiers, helping to mix ingredients... that would not otherwise blend well."
  •  L-Cysteine - an amino acid additive used to produce flavor in processed foods. Also used as a cigarette additive
  • Dextrose - another word for glucose, meaning more sugar.
And those blueberries? The label reads:

  • Sugar-infused blueberries - "blueberries, high fructose corn syrup, sunflower oil, citric acid"
  • Blueberry bits - "sugar, corn syrup, corn cereal, modified food starch, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, dried blueberries, blue 2, red 40, green 3 and blue 1"
Had Ron read the label, he would have opted for better quality bagels... genuine bagels baked with healthier, real ingredients... rather than modern industrial bagels loaded with chemicals, additives and cheap fillers. 

We all rush through the market, though, and don't peruse labels. And price-conscious shoppers naturally reach for bargains to fit the family budget. It's only human. We all do it.

Yes, I was chagrined when my beloved, diabetic husband brought home Stater Bros Country Harvest Blueberry Bagels last week.

And yes, he ate them. He consumed the last one for breakfast this morning.  But the good news is... once he reads this, he'll never again opt for bargain bagels.

 Learning about modern industrial foods will help all of us to make better choices about fake and real foods... about bargain bagels. 


  1. I hugely appreciate that you broke down the ingredients for us. We always see that long list of words and rarely understand what they mean, what they are used for, and how they impact our health. Thanks for doing the hard work of deciphering what's inside. It helps me to be a more savvy consumer when I go to the supermarket.

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