I know that I already touched on the idea of buying food locally in one of last week’s post and I have advocated a real food diet since the get-go, but an article in the Sunday Chicago Tribune really got me thinking about the food that we eat and I decided I needed to talk about it again. Monica Eng wrote an article about the testing of ingredients that are added to our food products. Right off the bat most people would think the FDA, that’s their job isn’t it? Oh how wrong we are my friends. It is true that the FDA does still do some regulation of food ingredients, but over the past 15 years they have started passing that job along to food companies and manufacturers. Does this raise a red flag to anyone out there? You mean to tell me the people who are adding “new” ingredients (mostly preservatives and chemicals) to food I could possibly eat are also testing the safety of that ingredient? Can you say conflict of interest? It shocked me to read that food companies were hiring their own scientists to test their products for safety and the FDA is aware and allowing this to happen. Most of the population believes that the people in the FDA are there to protect them, but in reality they are passing a really important job on to people out there who are trying to make a profit. Of course they will say that their products are safe, they want to be able to sell said products. And sadly most consumers are not as aware of what they eat and what is going on in the food world, so they end up possibly dealing with the consequences.
The other slightly disturbing information I read in this article was the term that the FDA gives to these ingredients that are being tested for safety. When an ingredient has been tested and there is a “reasonable amount of certainty” that this ingredient will not harm consumers, it gets the label generally recognized as safe, or GRAS. Generally? To me that seems that there is still a little bit of doubt that this product I am about to put into my body might not be as safe as it should be. Generally doesn’t conjure images of complete and total assurance that I am eating the safest food possible, and I would hope that this would give you pause as well.
What can you do to protect yourself from eating these possibly dangerous products? Pretty simple: stop eating them. Thanks, that helps a lot jerk! Seriously, though, really take into consideration what you are putting into your system. When you pick up a product look at the ingredient list and start saying the words out loud. If you can pronounce them and the list isn’t as long as the Oscar nominations, then it is probably ok to put in your cart. Even better, try not to buy any products that are sold in the aisles of your grocery store but rather purchase the fresh produce and fresh meats or dairy found around the perimeter of the store. This is a great shopping list for those who have no idea where to begin when they enter the store http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/clean-eating-shopping-list-for-beginners/ (this blogger also has a ton of other resources for better eating so check out her whole blog!). I know that it might not be entirely realistic for everyone to shop or eat this way, but little changes can make a big difference. And once again you can shop at your local farmers market. Food there is fresh and in season and even better you can meet and shake the hands of the person feeding you. Most of the time these farmers just want to give you and your family the best produce as possible and that is exactly what you get. Help them out by buying this fresh produce and delight in the knowledge you are not eating food that is generally recognized as safe. The biggest take away from this post is PLEASE arm yourself with knowledge. Don’t be a lemming when you buy your food. Read labels, ask questions, and get picky about your food. After all this is stuff you will be eating and putting into your body and I want you to have the healthiest body and life possible. There is no way that you can do that with scary ingredients that may or may not be safe to consume.