Lunch time woes

pandoraThere’s another new book out on the shelves that is definitely worth a read. It is called “Pandora’s Lunchbox: Pulling Back the Curtain on How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal” by Melanie Warner. The findings of the book won’t be something mothers would want to hear. Especially those that have started relying on prepared school lunches being sold in supermarkets to keep their children fed throughout the school day, without having to wake up early to prepare the lunch themselves.

However, the findings don’t stop there. They address all the processed foods millions of Americans eat on a daily basis. From cheese, to cereal, to soups, canned goods and about every other thing you can find on the supermarket aisles. One of the  biggest worries, is that every food somehow comes packed with added vitamins. Have you ever wondered why suddenly all the companies want us to get our dosage of vitamins? The answer is less appealing than you may think.

Most cereal, and other foods, that go through processing, lose their natural nutrients and fiber. Hence, manufacturers add  back vitamins, not because they want you to be healthy, but because they took them out in the first place. The added bad news? All the vitamins that are there don’t come from actual fruits and vegetables, such as Vitamin C from oranges, etc. Nope, not at all. In fact, they come from places you would least expect. For example, Vitamin D comes from sheep grease found in sheep wool). And did you know that 50% of vitamins come from China, and are made of chemicals? Want to hear more horror stories? Get your copy of the book here, or check our part 1 of this coverage by Democracy Now in our video section.

Are you being fooled?

Yesterday morning, while getting news from Democracy Now, an independent news media outlet, I heard about a great new book called “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” by Michael Moss. Today, I couldn´t write about anything else but that book.

The book tells you the story of how food corporations “destroy” food in order to get better financial results, because a lower quality food (if it is food) is much cheaper. So we are a part of a legal scandal without even knowing about it. Even if some of us know about the consequences of eating processed food there is not much choice in the supermarkets, especially in the US.

An average American eats 33 pounds of cheese every year. That stands for 3,100 grams of saturated fat and 60,000 calories per year which is about 165 calories per day coming only from cheese. Why do we eat so much cheese? Is it really the best part of your daily meal? And we all know that these are not French cheeses that you would have at the end of your meal with a little bit of red wine. The answer is that the government subsidies the industry of processed food. The two more subsidized produces are corn, which is used to produced high fructose corn syrup (all processed food has it) and meat. Why the government does not subsidies lettuce or tomatoes. Well no big corporations buy it in such big quantities.

As a result of this $1 trillion-a-year industry, one-in-three adults, and one-in-five children, are now clinically obese. Which is in some ways also good for the government, because it generates more cash flow. These obese people are having an infinite number of health problems, so a lot of doctors get paid. The biggest problem is that the majority of obese people are actually poor and don’t have much money for a proper treatment. Because the processed food industry is subsidized the big corporations can set a low price on their products, so as a result healthy food is expensive and unhealthy food is cheap. How many times have you seen this sign: 2 Burgers for 3$! Have you ever seen: 2 Salads for 4$?!

Another very interesting part of the book was the comparison of the processed food industry to the tobacco industry. The easiest connection is the word ‘unhealthy’. But there is even a more shocking fact. No CEO of a big food company eats its produce! So the CEO of General Mills would not eat a chocolate bar produced by his own firm, just as the CEO of Philip Morris would not smoke a cigarette. As the CEO of a tobacco company I guess you can be a non-smoker, but as a CEO of a food company not eating your own food product says something very serious to the public.

There are very thoroughly conducted scientific studies that find the amount of salt and sugar currently present in our processed foods to be highly addictive. Of course, there are different kinds of sugars and it is much worse to consume artificial ones than natural ones. For example, it is proven that a Diet Coke drinker will buy the product more often than a normal Coke drinker because of their physical addiction to the sugar. If you go to a supermarket, let’s say to the cereal aisle you will notice that the cereals with more sugar are on the eye level. If you actually want to get cereals that have less sugar you will either have to kneel or ask a taller person for some help in reaching it.

All this information was quite shocking for me, because an average human being is being fooled without even knowing it. And the worst part of it is that the majority of us will never know about it and less more people start discussing these scary new findings. Please spread this message so that we can make a difference in this world and fix our broken food system!!

1. Democracy Now!

posted by Piotr Wielezynski

About Micheal Pollan

Today you will get to know about another expert of the food industry, Michael Pollan. Pollan is an American author, activist, journalist and professor of Journalism at the UC Berkley Graduate School. For the past 25 years he has been writing books and articles about places where nature and culture meet, i.e. on our plates, in our gardens and our farms.He is an author of a couple of bestsellers, a brief description of which you can find in ourliterature section: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2010); In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008); The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2001).

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals is his best-known work. It is written in an easy to read language, which helps you to get through this topic that for some may seem not that interesting. The book gives you the big picture of what are our (western civilization) habits related to food and what stands behind these habits. In my opinion it is an issue that we don’t think about but is crucial to our daily life.

Micheal Pollan’s passion is gardening and this is how he finds a lot of inspiration for his books. He believes that the contact a human being has with nature is fundamental to understand processes that are being undertaken on our planet. Without direct experience and physical contact you are simply unable to understand it. His books are written with a very simple language. Pollan writes his books as if they were stories that he tells to people. His purpose is to make people think in a more ecological way, and to have more respect for nature.

The latest book he has published is the illustrated version of food rules. It is a get together of more than 80 rules that every single person in the world should know about. It is an easy read and because of its style you can put it away and get back to it anytime you want. We want to share a couple of them with you to energize you for the read:

1. It is better to eat something that stands on one leg, than something that stands on two legs, than something that stand on four legs.

2. The 3 S rule: Sweets and Salt only on S days

3. Sometimes you need to break some rules.

Every type of food is good for you, considering it is healthy and your diet is well balanced. It is important to make sure that your diet is full of color and that there’s a bit of everything on your plate. So head to your local store and explore!!


posted by Piotr Wielezynski

$240 billion problem

We have all heard that Americans throw away 40% of all the food in their supply chain on a yearly basis. But, exactly how much is that? Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, says that it amounts to $240 billion a year.

Now, that’s a lot of money, but what could we do with all that cash if we had saved it? For starters, we could end hunger with just $30 billion a year. The UNDP then estimates that$1 billion a year would ensure universal access to basic social services, such as basic education, health, nutrition, access to water and sewage disposal.

Imagine a world without food waste, it sure looks healthy, happy and prosperous. The solution is in your hands, you just have to ask yourself, do I want to make a change?