This morning a friend was complaining that after eating his dinner last night he got a histamine reaction. His nose and sinuses all plugged up quickly. The dish, “Sweet and Spicy Orange Zest Chicken–Healthy Choice” contained lima beans. He rarely eats lima beans so he speculated that there must me something in them that caused him to have an allergic reaction.
I looked up what is in this “Healthy Choice” to see what might be included in dinner that is not visible to the naked eye:
Cooked Rice, Cooked Chicken Tenderloins (Chicken Tenderloin, Water, Olive Oil, Contains 2% or Less of: Isolated Soy Protein Product [Isolated Soy Protein, Modified Food Starch, Starch, Carrageenan, Soy Lecithin], Dextrose, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Paprika, Flavoring, Caramel Color), Sugar Snap Peas, Water, Orange Marmalade (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Orange Juice, Orange Peel, Natural Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid, May Contain Natural Flavor), Red Peppers, Scallions, Brown Sugar, Contains 2% or Less of: Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt, Alcohol, Vinegar, Lactic Acid), Vinegar, Modified Corn Starch, Ginger, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Garlic, Soybean Oil, Salt, Oleoresin Paprika, Crushed Red Pepper.
I put the bold emphasis on places where lots of mysterious things can get put into your foods. Natural flavors, flavors, and similar innocent sounding ‘ingredients’ are added to foods to enhance your dining experience. These things go through the rigorous FDA approval process of being tested by their manufacturer for safety and informing the FDA of the results. If a product proves to not actually be safe, as in the case of Trans Fats, then the poor results in the real world may sometimes result in the FDA removing the safe designation–sometimes as long as forty years later. (See Fats, Trans)
The Washington Post has a good article yesterday, “Getting rid of trans fats is a good move, but the nutrition battle isn’t over“. The article goes into the sorry state of health related to diet in the US. The final paragraph sums up what is really wrong with nutrition in the US:
As a general matter, however, we believe that taxing things the government wants to discourage is a way to achieve legitimate national goals with minimal economic disruption and individual coercion. A tax of appropriate size on added sugars, for example, would discourage consumption and encourage food- and beverage-makers to develop new recipes.
That might work. However, I believe that demonizing processed foods like cigarettes were demonized in the 80s and 90s will be a lot easier to do. If news outlets like the Washington Post would start trumpeting the message that processed foods are not manufactured with your health even in the top ten considerations, then maybe people would stop eating processed foods.
Us all eating real food would be the kind of actual incentive for food manufacturers to stop putting mysterious ingredients into food. The FDA already has the power to stop dangerous and poorly tested ingredients from being added, including sugar. They don’t. Manufacturers could stop putting sugar in yesterday, if they wanted. They don’t. Trans fats were known to be dangerous, even by the FDA back in 2006, but manufacturers still put them into foods, “where needed”. Nine years have passed, and the FDA just gave them a few more years to make the changes to get them completely out.
Eat processed foods, if you want. It’s your life.