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Feb
08
2016

Don’t Worry, It’s All Natural

As you may have picked up over time reading my blog or just knowing me, I find topics of health interesting: food, diet, fitness, etc. I've read about all kinds of diets (eating philosophies), diets (eating to lose weight), food politics, changing nutrition guidelines, fitness trends, food trends (both produced supermarket foods and even just online recipes), ... you name it, I find it intriguing and I've probably looked it up multiple times. Oddly, or perhaps as a logical result of all of this learning, I actually don't ascribe to almost anything anyone is selling.

Because of the way I was raised and the things I've learned over the years, through both reading and experience, I really just believe in all things in moderation. Always will.

Right now, I try to make my diet consist of mostly whole foods with some treats thrown in here and there (with the majority of my meals being homemade), lots of water and for exercise, running twice a week along with my new love of Pop Pilates. That's it! No eschewing of any food groups or calorie counting. No boutique gym or CrossFit obsession. No superfood nonsense or prohibiting foods they determine are bad for you this year (and later decide, no, they're perfectly fine) ... eggs, I'm looking at you.

It seems the healthiest way to live. And I don't just mean physically, but mentally. If you mostly eat naturally-occurring foods and try to stay active, you're probably going to be in pretty good health without obsessing over it. That's my philosophy anyway.

Anyway, that whole intro was just to say that right now, I'm reading this book:

I've read lots of extremely fascinating things already (and I'm only a third of the way through it) about how many food companies started out. Like how the two Kellogg brothers didn't get along so well. One of them came up with the idea of making a flaked wheat cereal in response to Americans eating WAY too much meat for breakfast that was causing digestive issues. The other brother eventually came along and decided to add some sugar to it. They actually went to court over it!

So, lots of fun facts about the history of packaged foods and drinks, for sure. If you have an interest in that sort of things or even an interest in seeing how companies rationalize selling foods that are increasingly being recognized as unhealthy, I'd recommend this book.

One of the things I've read about over the years is the use of (and legal battles over) wording on food packaging. For example, the use of the word "natural" has long been a point of contention between food companies and groups fighting for the public health interest. 

Which has long made me suspicious of any such claims on food items in the grocery store.

So when I came across this section in my book, I was like holy crap, that is a perfect example of how you cannot believe what you read on food labels.

The author led up to this excerpt by talking about how companies want to combat the image of selling pure sugar by saying that those items contain fruit. And this isn't just drinks, although that is the initial item mentioned. Apparently fruit juice concentrate is used in ALL kinds of products, from pastries to cereal and of course juices ... pretty much anything sweet. But what does it mean to say that there's real fruit in something? 

"Juice concentrate is made through an industrial process that is highly variable, including any or all of the following steps: peeling the fruit, thereby removing much of the beneficial fiber and vitamins; extracting the juice from the pulp, which loses even more of the fiber; removing the bitter compounds; adjusting the sweetness through varietal blending; and evaporating the water out of the juice.

At its extreme, the process results in what is known within the industry as 'stripped juice,' which is basically pure sugar, almost entirely devoid of the fiber, flavors, aromas, and or any of the other attributes we associate with real fruit. In other words, the concentrate is reduced to just another form of sugar, with no nutritional benefit over table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup."

Whaaaaaat??? 

I mean, okay, it's not that shocking that food companies practice this, but I never really researched these products that claim to have real fruit in them or to contain all natural ingredients. 

They're basically processing fruit to the point that what they've really done is extract the sugar molecules from it and then they market it to mom as being better for their kids than soda, which at that point, it definitely is not.

Crazytown! I had to share.

Don’t Worry, It’s All Natural
Copyright 2004-2018 Elizabeth Shiver