Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Irony of Junk Food

Websites that promote apples do not disparage oranges or peaches or cherries. If you look at websites that sell whole grains, they do not disparage other healthy whole food products.

What I find interesting is that Junk Food "A" may talk very highly about their product, but have something terrible to say about Junk Food "B". The sugar people will go off about alternative sweeteners, and the alternative sweetener folks will go off about both HFCS and sugar. All the while, each company's product is touted to be quite superior. If each of the junk food companies has something legitimate to say about the other junk food company's products, isn't this a sure sign that it's all....JUNK?!

Here are some examples:

What the Sugar Association has to say: "HFCS does not exist in nature. It is a highly processed product that requires the ingenuity and efforts of man for its creation, and was unknown to the world until the 1970s. Sugar is all-natural and has been the primary sweetening ingredient worldwide for thousands of years and still is the predominate sweetener in every country, except the United States. Sugar exists naturally in almost every fruit and vegetable but most abundantly in sugar cane and sugar beets."

The Sugar Association has gone so far as to create a website called The Truth About Splenda which further disparages another competitor.

Here is what SPLENDA has to say: "SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener may be used as part of a healthy diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods in moderate portions. Because SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener tastes like sugar and can be used for cooking and baking, it helps meet consumer demand for good-tasting foods and beverages without all the empty calories of sugar."


"Although sucralose (generic term for SPLENDA) is made from a process that begins with sugar, the body does not recognize it as sugar or a carbohydrate. It is not metabolized by the body for energy, so it is calorie-free.....it passes through the body without being broken down for energy, so it has no calories, and the body does not recognize it as a carbohydrate. " This is saying that SPLENDA is not recognized by the body as a food, which in my opinion means we have no business putting it in our bodies!!

The NutraSweet Company is proud of their product because of its lack of calories: "Aspartame has many benefits. Aspartame can reduce or replace the sugar and calories in foods and beverages while maintaining great taste. Thus, aspartame offers one simple step in helping people move closer to achieving a more healthful diet." That's funny.

Saccharin comes right out and says, "Although the totality of the available research indicates saccharin is safe for human consumption, there has been controversy over its safety. The basis for the controversy rests primarily on findings of bladder tumors in some male rats fed high doses of sodium saccharin." Oh, woops. Just bladder tumors. No worries. Then I wonder why convenient stores have saccharin warning signs in their store windows?

Again, healthy whole foods will never be controversial. We don't need science to tell us what our common sense leads us to believe about healthy foods....that an apple is good nutrition, for example. If there is any controversy about a food you are eating, I would suggest you consider eating something that has never been controversial.

You can't go wrong by eating whole foods, keeping in mind portion sizes. You might go wrong by eating JUNK. To me, it's not worth risking what I don't know.

Lastly, I include with the Corn Refiner's Association take on their product HFCS, because it is so funny to me: "Mention corn syrups and consumers think of the sweetness and energy they offer--outstanding characteristics--" More like mention corn syrup and watch people roll their eyes. The press, the commercials and the lobbying is just ridiculous. I can't imagine anyone going to such great lengths to lobby for steel cut oats or lima beans.

Here is an interesting article about HFCS, with quotes from the president of the Corn Refiner's Association, Audrae Erickson. HFCS or sugar? Sugar or HFCS?

The press on this right now is downright silly. We have companies responding to consumer demand by taking HFCS out of their products and going back to using sugar. Hooray? Really? To me this is the silliest battle between highly processed junk foods that we should eat less of altogether. I don't eat either one, and it's difficult to avoid because most packaged products have one or the other. I usually end up eating fruit, darnit.

My point is that no matter how ignorant we might want to feign to be, it's obvious what is healthy whole food and what is not. I don't believe that the "foods" created in the laboratories were made to improve our health, although many of the artificial sweetener producers would argue and say that they are providing a low-calorie sweetener alternative. What good does it do to put a low-calorie sweetener in a product that is loaded with junk and many other types of calories?

1 comment:

anastasia_wolf said...

There is stuff out there discrediting honey and agave syrup too. It's really hard to wade through anything related to sweeteners. Apparently bears are the only wild animals to get tooth cavities, and they eat honey. True or not? I don't know. Dr Mercola has interesting stuff to say about agave but then he goes on to push Stevia so it seems like he has a vested interest. I figure minimising sweet stuff is really the best thing, but it would be nice to just know definitively what is crap and what is not!