July 4th: a perfect time to declare your independence from the tyranny of insidious ingredients

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July 4, 2013

When in the course of getting together with your family and friends to celebrate America’s having declared her independence 237 years ago, it might be as good an occasion as any to declare your own independence as well. By that, I mean your independence from industry’s attempts to inveigle you into ingesting fake foods and ill-advised additives on a continuous and sustained basis.

Your personal Declaration of Independence should take into account that food corporations derive their power to market products from the consent of the consumer, and that as a consumer you have been endowed with certain inalienable rights, including the right to eat unadulterated food that is “most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”   Foods, in other words, produced in accord with “the Laws of Nature,”and having been “long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes,” such as the extra bit of profitability that comes from substituting injurious ingredients that prudence dictates should not be part of anyone’s diet.

OK, I admit to having taken a few liberties (no pun intended) with some of the language from America’s Declaration of Independence, for which I offer my apologies to the Founding Fathers.  But I did it to make a point – that there are more ways than one of freeing ourselves (and our fellow man) from those who try to impose their will on us. And today, that’s exactly what certain food manufacturers and their trade groups are attempting to do – that is, use the powers of mass marketing to literally get us to swallow synthetic substances that a growing body of research has found pose a threat to our health and well-being.

Here at Food Identity Theft, we’ve already offered descriptions of the top ten of these culinary culprits – but to help free you of their pernicious presence in your food, let’s briefly review them again:

  • High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS  This cheap, unnatural test-tube sweetener that has replaced old-fashioned sugar in nearly all soft drinks and a wide variety of other products – and is used as an additive in many more –has been linked by researchers to skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes, as well as other health problems.
  • Aspartame (often goes by the name of NutraSweet or Equal)  This “no-calorie” artificial sweetener that started life as an experimental ulcer drug can be found in a multitude of products, despite initial research that linked it to brain tumors and thousands of  adverse reactions ranging from migraines to seizures and vision problems.
  • Hydrolyzed protein,
  • Autolyzed yeast,
  • Monosodium glutamate: These flavor enhancers are all classified as “excitotoxins” (as is aspartame) – neurotoxic substances capable of literally exciting certain brain cells to death, especially in children and seniors. And like aspartame, they have been linked to a wide range of adverse health effects.
  • Potassium bromate:  This additive used in flour and baked goods has long been known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
  • Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO:  Although never having been declared safe by the Food and Drug Administration, linked to heart problems in research animals, and  banned in Europe, Japan and India, this cosmetic ingredient continues to be added to citrus-flavored soft drinks.
  • BHA and BHT:  These two preservatives, derived from coal tar or petroleum , are considered possible carcinogens and have caused mice to be born with altered brain chemistry.
  • Trans fats: Produced by “partial hydrogenation” of various oils, trans fats are considered by all health authorities to be a cause of heart disease, and may be a factor in cancer and Azheimer’s as well
  • Artificial colors: These coal tar and petroleum-based hues are widely linked to behavioral problems and hyperactivity in children.

And to further assist you in  declaring yourself free and independent of foods that harbor harmful ingredients, here’s a basketful of such offenders that you should make a point of excluding from your 4th of July festivities:

Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos
Not only do these “bold” snacking chips contain both monosodium glutamate and sodium caseinate, another “excitotoxin” flavor enhancer, but they are also enhanced by the addition of five artificial colors.

Stroehmann Dutch Country Hot Dog Potato Rolls
Despite its claim of being an  “original recipe,” it’s doubtful any authentic Pennsylvania Dutch recipe ever called for high fructose corn syrup – let alone artificial flavor.

Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet Vidalia Onion Barbecue Sauce
While it may contain some Vidalia onions (6.48%, to be precise), this down-home-style sauce appears to have more in the way of high fructose corn syrup, its very first ingredient.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup
Though it might seem like a traditional condiment going back many years, you can be fairly certain this ketchup, which comes complete with added HFCS, isn’t the same stuff your grandparents took along on July 4th picnics.

Penn Maid French Onion Sour Cream Dip
With both monosodium glutamate and autolyzed yeast listed as ingredients, this dip is the perfect match for those Nacho Cheese Doritos –that is, if you’re looking to zap your brain cells with a quadruple dose of excitoxins before the fireworks begin.

Smucker’s Sundae Syrup, Caramel Flavored
Here’s  a great way to “make your dessert divine” – if your idea of “divine” includes HFCS, whey protein concentrate (yet another free-glutamate excitoxin), vanillin (a petrochemical-based  artificial flavor), and two artificial colors.

Of course, these are just a few samples of numerous snack items and condiments you can find with similarly insidious ingredients. But since all these additives are listed on the label, all it requires is a little vigilance to banish them once and for all from your family’s diet and holiday celebrations.  And when you do, you’ll discover there are plenty of healthier, more ‘genuine’ snack foods out there (especially organic ones) with which to help celebrate your country’s – and your own – independence.