Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Frozen Waffles: Folly, Fun and Fake Food Ingredients

I get it. I get why health-conscious Americans sometimes serve fake food at home. I get it, because I did it.

I confess: I served frozen generic toaster waffles to our two young grandchildren for breakfast last weekend slathered, ironically,  with trans-fat free yogurt-based spread and USDA-certified organic maple agave syrup blend. 
An industrial-manufactured fake food of the first order doused in pretentious products of smug Whole Foods purists.

Frozen waffles doused and drenched but not disguised. Our seven-year-old pronounced them  "Awesome. Really awesome!"

My excuse? I was in a hurry at the market, and besides, I knew the kids couldn't wait the time it takes to properly mix and make waffles from scratch. They have fun things to do, favorite places to go, and they'd be hungry. 

At the market, I hid the frozen waffle box, fearing disapproval of fellow shoppers. What if I ran into friends or neighbors? What would they think?  That I feed fake industrial-made foods to my family? That I secretly binge on fake foods? They know I blog to expose the worst of modern industrial fake foods. Will they brand me a health hypocrite? 

Embarrassed, I slid the bright gold box under a sheath of red-leaf romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, organic apricot-plum hybrids, and a loaf of cracked wheat sunflower-seed dill bread in an artisan-baker bag made of crinkly recycled paper.  I made it home, my food crime undetected. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

U.S. Food Supply Injures More Americans than Gun Violence Each Year

It's puzzling: Colorado-grown cantaloupes killed  more innocents in 2011 than did the recent murderous shooting-spree in a Colorado movie theater, yet no one seems to give a damn. 

Each year, preventable foodborne illness strikes 48 million Americans, hospitalizing a hundred thousand and killing thousands. Each year! 

 In 2011, 36 people died because they ate cantaloupe grown at Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado. The melons were bought at WalMart, Krogers and other trusted neighborhood grocers.

Cantaloupes that looked, felt, and smelled ripe and healthy. Cantaloupes that were infected, though, with deadly Listeria bacteria. Infected cantaloupes that should have been detected by internal, third-party, or FDA-mandated inspections.    CNN investigated for months:
"... CNN has found serious gaps in the federal food safety net meant to protect American consumers of fresh produce, a system that results in few or no government inspections of farms and with only voluntary guidelines of how fresh produce can be kept safe...
The 2011 listeriosis outbreak... should not have happened, and it could have been prevented, according to numerous food safety experts and federal health officials.
 "... the story of what happened at Jensen Farms, and why no one stopped the sale and shipments of the cantaloupes... sheds light on serious problems in the nation's fresh produce food safety net, and a voluntary system created by businesses to ensure a quality product, known as third-party audits."
In all, 36 men, women and children suffered painful deaths and 146 others became quite ill because inspection procedures failed to detect  poisoned cantaloupes sold in U.S. supermarkets in May, June and July 2011. 

Tragically, this massacre is not an isolated incident in U.S. modern industrialized food:  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gigantic-Portion Restaurants: Corporate Profits at What Public Cost?

Decadent, monstrous-sized servings were first a 1970s fad among restaurants, designed to entice and entertain Americans with chocolate cake slices the size of a human head, mountains of golden french fries, and burgers stacked taller than a small pet.  It was great, unexpected fun 40 years ago. 

In 2012, rage-against-the-nutrition-machine propels Americans to eateries that serve gigantic portions of deeply satisfying comfort-food chocked with fats, sugars, and forbidden carbs.  Rebelling against the nanny state never felt so freeing or acceptably naughty. 

Problem is... these eateries do it solely for the profit. And just like Big Tobacco, they don't give a damn about your health or public health. Or the health of our great nation. 

Heart Attack Restaurants
The infamous Heart Attack Grill, now in Las Vegas, is an easy nutritional target, with its Quadruple Bypass Burgers (up to 8,000 calories), all-you-can-eat Flatliner Friers (fried in lard), and Butter-Fat Shakes (triple butterfat in strawberry, chocolate, vanilla). Click here for a YouTube of a guy eating the butter pooled in a butterfat shake.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Coconut Water Fad: Hucksterism, Health Elixir or Quasi Fraud?

Coconut water is one of the hottest health food trends, with more than $400 million in U.S. sales in 2011. Sales have doubled each year since, 2005, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Touted by Barbados-born rock-star Rihanna, endorsed by baseball superstars Josh Hamilton and Dustin Pedroia and world surfing champ Kelly Slater, invested in by film stars Demi Moore and Matthew McConaughey, TV star Kelly Ripa, and supermodel Gisele Bundchen ... the modern industrial beverage industry is banking heavily on coconut water as the next big profit-rich thing. 

But is coconut water the perfect-food elixir touted by its celebrity backers, or the newest blip in health food hucksterism? Or are boasts about coconut water the stuff of quasi-fraud baloney, like past food-fads acai berry and raspberry ketones? 

(Read HERE for Raspberry Ketones: Another Industrial Food Quasi-Scam?)

I recently bought a plethora of coconut water products and brands in cans, bottles, boxes... and my appraisal of the lot brought more questions than answers, and found more clever ambiguities and suspiciously slick marketing ploys than clear or verifiable facts.

And despite adorable "cute discovery" stories on the websites of entrepreneurs of these home-grown enterprises, I uncovered deep-pocketed connections to the largest U.S. industrial beverage corporations. Connections not revealed to the consumer on lushly alluring but largely fact-free packaging or on corporate websites.