This article was originally published in The Scope of New London, Connecticut.
Just about every packaged food you eat is terrible for your health.
In light of the fact that 90% of America’s food budget goes to processed food, I think it’s about time we initiate a conversation on what all this processed food is doing to our health and society. We all know that food is medicine, yet the overwhelming majority of our diet comes from nutrient-depleted garbage foods. We eat a diet that leads to cancer, type 2 diabetes, weight disorders, fatigue, and heart problems, all the while funding a system of food that does not work for the people.
Let’s kick the facts for a minute.
Everyone knows that chips, cookies, soda, candy, cereal etc. are terrible for our health. The high sodium content gives us heart problems. The high sugar and carbohydrate levels make us fat and give us type 2 diabetes. Most of our processed food is made using weird genetically modified corn and soy, the mainstays of America’s wasteful agro-industrial complex. For the most part, there is no useful nutritional content whatsoever in any of these foods. The vitamins listed on the label are often synthetically produced and our bodies do not benefit from them.
But there is more to the story.
Juice is not a health food, and that is because of the processing. Neither is bread or pasta. Even the whole wheat stuff. What do these foods have in common? The processing has stripped the foods of their vitamins and nutrients, leaving simple or complex carbohydrates—which become sugar once you ingest them—and then even more sugar is added. You see a plate of pasta with tomato sauce; I see a pile of sugar.
Apples are great. Take off the skin, mash it up, and you have juice. Not so great. In the process of making juice, the fiber is removed so we can’t digest the fruit properly. The vitamins and nutrients are exposed to the air and thus oxidized, rendering them useless. In the end, one glass might contain the juice (and sugar content) of four apples, and then even more sugar is added. No wonder scientists predict fully one third of us will suffer from diabetes in the future.
Vegetable oil is made by squeezing plants under high heat, damaging the oil to the point that it becomes rancid. Most of the oils you eat, unless they are cold pressed, have gone through a “deodorification” process to prevent you from noticing that they are not in fact edible. It is a shame that so many people choose these over natural oils like butter and lard.
These are just a few examples. If you start to analyze what you take home from the grocery store, you might find a lot more things to worry about.
Chemical additives, for instance, are alarmingly common. Hot dogs and lunch meats have “nitrites,” which are preservatives linked to cancer. The artificial sweetener sucralose, found in splenda and coke zero, was made in a pesticide laboratory. It has more in common with DDT than with sugar.
Worryingly, the ingredients are often not properly labeled. MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a neurotoxin that artificially stimulates your brain cells. It has been linked to headaches, brain leisures and tumors, memory loss, hormonal problems, dementia, and other disorders. These problems are also connected to aspartame, another neurotoxin, which can be found in diet foods. Instead of listing “MSG,” food companies may list the toxin under names like “sodium caseinate” and even “natural flavors.” This is not natural, folks, yet it is found in thousands of products Americans eat regularly.
Most people have no idea that these processed foods are so bad for their health, and I’m really just scratching the surface here. Cheerios and whole wheat bread are so innocuous that they actually seem healthy. Americans are raised with thousands and thousands of food advertisements that make these foods seem entirely normal when, in fact, humans are the only animals dumb enough to consume this unnatural garbage.
What’s the solution? We need to eat more real food. Real food includes fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and nuts. There are some good grain products, like sprouted grain bread and quinoa, and we should cook using butter, lard, and cold pressed olive oil. Eat local and organic when possible, and learn to read your labels. Real food is the main toolkit your body has to take care of itself, so keep an open mind and learn to question the food you put in your body.