Is the food industry sabotaging our health?

Is the food industry sabotaging our health?
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Americans are quickly becoming a nation of obese and unhealthy individuals. For the most part, this is due to our poor food choices – we choose sodas over water, fast food over local, organic vegetables, and processed cheese products instead of organic options. We don’t really have room to complain when our health fails – after all, we made the bad choices, so we’re to blame.

Right?

Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions. In fact, Americans are victims of a larger conspiracy, one orchestrated by the food industry itself. The truth is, there’s big money in processed foods. The mega-corporations make their money churning out chemically engineered, mass produced food items, and we’ve become addicted.

That’s right, I said addicted.

Research shows that MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors and flavorings are designed to work with the pleasure sensors in the brain. These fake foods taste so good that we become addicted. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to step away from the salad bowl when you’re full, but how difficult it is to put down the bag of chips? Science shows that this may not be a will power issue, after all!

In fact, marketers and food engineers have spent millions of dollars to ensure that you continue to buy (and crave) their products. Most processed food is primarily made up of soy and corn, altered and flavored in a variety of ways. Chemical compounds are added so that a burger made of low quality ingredients tastes like the best food you’ve ever eaten, and a soda quenches your thirst and leaves you craving more.

A fast food meal contains very little food in its original state. Processed snacks contain an entire alphabet of chemicals, additives, and preservatives. Once you begin to pay attention to the labels on your food, you’ll realize what an awful situation our country is really in – and it’s getting worse by the minute. The next time you reach for your favorite snack, be sure to check out the entire label, not just the calorie count. Read the ingredients, and see how many of them you can actually pronounce. If you’re not sure what’s in your food, why are you putting it in your body?

As consumers, it’s time to take back our diets. We vote with our wallets, after all. If we stop buying these pseudo foods, eventually the market will dry up. It’s a supply and demand issue. We demand processed junk, so we get it. Instead, we can take action by spending our food dollars on locally grown meats and vegetables, organic dairy products, and high quality artisan bread from the local bakery.

If you’re concerned about the health of your family – and you should be – begin cutting chemically engineered foods out of your diet. Start avoiding high fructose corn syrup (the pseudo food that has to have it’s own PR agency), MSG, artificial flavorings and colors, and genetically modified food.

But what to replace them with?

Choose foods with as many whole ingredients as possible – foods with ingredients that you can pronounce! If you choose to shop in the grocery store or supermarket, stick to the outer aisles, and choose organic meats and produce whenever possible. Be aware that much supermarket meat is irradiated, gassed, or pumped full of flavor solutions, and read labels carefully to get the highest quality meat for your food dollar.

A still better option is a farmer’s market, co-op, or natural grocery store. These options allow you to obtain food in its natural form – free of chemicals and pesticides. When possible, try to eat food that is locally grown. By choosing local fruits, vegetables, and meats, you’re helping to guarantee that your food dollars do the most good. When you shop directly from farmers, a larger portion of every dollar ends up in the farmer’s pocket, and you cut out the middlemen – the factory food industry.

By choosing healthy food options for your family, you’re improving your health and helping the economy. Before you make your next plate, stop and think where your food is coming from. How many places has it been? How much oil was used to get it to your plate? How many chemicals and byproducts does it contain?

It’s enough to make you sick.

Consider making one small change at a time….

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Michelle Toole

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