9 Deceiving Facts About the Food Industry

Eating healthy is always a good thing but don’t be fooled by food companies that use marketing or loopholes to trick you into thinking something is healthy when it actually isn’t. Before the 1950’s the average consumer wasn’t much concerned about the nutrition of their food. However, in the 1960’s companies started to notice consumers taking notice of what they eat. Let’s visit the top 9 Deceiving Facts the food industry doesn’t want you to know.

9. Sugar Free Products

It’s easy to blame sugar as the cause for the rapid increase in the countries obesity problem. However, the truth is we need sugar in moderation as part of a balanced diet. The biggest trick the food industry uses to say a product is sugar free has to do with chemicals. Sugar free sweeteners are some of the most toxic things we can consume and have been linked in an array of troubling health conditions. Look for products that use natural, unprocessed sugars like maple syrup or honey and avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

8. Trans Fats

The US FDA’s guidelines state that any food product with an amount of fat under 0.5g per serving can be listed as 0g on the packaging. If you take a look at a lot of frozen and prepackaged foods you’ll see they print “0g Trans Fat” in bold on the front of their products. Simply look at the nutrition panel to see the ingredients to get the bigger picture. If they list any type of hydrogenated oil you can be sure this product will fail lab testing for 0% trans fat.

7. Serving Sizes

The easiest way for any food product to look healthier is by manipulating the serving sizes on the nutrition facts panel. If the item is something that most people would consume during one sitting logic says this is one serving. However, it’s not uncommon to find more and more companies decreasing serving sizes because they count on you not noticing. If the item says “servings per container: 3” you have to then multiple each listed nutritional fact item by 3!

6. Luxury Labeling

Would you pay more for a Mercedes than a Honda? Food companies know you would so they spend a lot of money on fancy packaging and marketing to turn that $2 can of spaghetti sauce into a $6 jar. The easiest way to ensure your money is going into a quality product is by comparing the ingredients on two similar items.

5. Peaches

Peaches easily bruise and are a favorite fruit of insects. This is why companies soak them in chemicals before shipping them to your local grocery store. It’s always a smart idea to purchase only organic produce but if you can’t make sure you wash these items aggressively before consuming them.

4. Defects

The US FDA has guidelines for unavoidable defects in food items, which they claim present no health hazards for humans. Taken straight from their handbook, canned mushrooms are allowed to contain 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams and golden raisins can contain an average of 1,250 or more insect fragments per 10 grams.

3. Aluminum Cans & Plastic Bottles

The chemical known as bisphenol A (BPA) is used to provide an anti-septic function to the food products it contains. Studies have shown BPA puts children and adolescents at greater risk of heart and kidney disease. The US FDA has since banned the chemical in food packaging but this hasn’t stopped companies whom make aluminum cans. In order to avoid BPA and other dangerous chemicals, choose glass whenever possible.

2. Ground Beef

Ground beef is made by gathering waste trimmings from multiple cuts of beef. It is then exposed to low heat so the fat can separate and finally sent through pipes to be treated with ammonia gasses. The US FDA allows beef products to be treated with ammonia to “clean” the meat from bacteria. Small batch and local beef producers follow different guidelines. Try to purchase meat locally when possible, from responsible organic farmers.

1. Bugs

The cochineal is a scale insect that produces carminic acid which is used to make food coloring. The bugs themselves are actually crushed to produce a vibrant red color used in food items most famously Starbucks Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino a few years back. Cochineals are considered safe for food consumption; however, many may be disgusted and concerned about eating a living thing.

The Budget Way to Get Organic Food Products

The craze to eat healthy has engulfed many people. They are shocked at the unhealthy life they are leading, they are worried about the frequent illnesses they are afflicted with, and they wonder how they can eat a better diet and lead a healthier life. So what do many of them do? They switch to an organic diet. They make the transition to eating foods that are grown without the help of chemicals. But such kinds of food products are not cheap. They are expensive. When they go to the store and look at the prices another thought strikes them. How can they buy these foods at an inexpensive price? How can they consume organic food and remain healthy on a limited budget?

The first thing to do is to make a budget. One should sit with a pen and paper and make a list of all the fruits, vegetables and juices that they want to buy. When they are making this list, they should first keep in mind that they are looking to eat healthy. So the list should first talk about all the food products that are good for the mind and the body. The money part can be thought about later. Once the list of all the healthy and organic food items have been listed then the next thing to do would be to list all the prices next to them. In case the budget maker is not sure of how much the products cost then they can always go online and look up the prices. A lot of information is available on the Internet and the prices of food products can be ascertained as well.

A lot of organic food items are available at major shopping markets and retail chains. By going online it is possible to not only check if the products are available at the supermarkets, but also what prices they are sold at. There are times when the products are not available immediately, but the retailer gives a date when it will be made available to him by his distributor. The budget maker will then know that on that day he has to visit the supermarket. That will also give him the time that he has to plan his budget, and complete his shopping.

Once he has made a list of all the products and all the prices, the next step the budget maker has to do is to decide which products are expensive and which products are affordable. This is not a question of simply looking at the numbers. One has to look at the value of the item. A healthy item is worth buying even if it is expensive, while another product might not be worth it even if it is cheap. Once this exercise has been completed, the budget maker will get a good idea of how much his organic products will cost.

The next thing the buyer will have to do is to check if the supermarket where he plans to buy these goods offers any discounts. Many stores also offer gift coupons and this helps save the buyer plenty of money. Some of these coupons have a set deadline to them and the buyer needs to avail of this offer before that time limit. The coupons can usually be found during the holiday season, and it is a good time to make bulk purchases.

The other thing that many people do to save cost even more is to grow organic fruits and vegetables themselves. It is not too hard to get the right ingredients from the market and grow tomatoes and potatoes at home without using chemicals. Quite a few such part-time farmers find that they save a lot of money this way. Another useful tip that they offer to save money on organic products is to buy unpackaged foods from bulk sellers. Retailers spend a lot of money on packaging, and many buyers are surprised as to how much lower the cost of unpackaged products are. It is also essential to balance purchases by getting food items that are in season as they will be available in plenty and hence the cost will be significantly lower. By being smart about their purchases, buyers can reduce their cost on organic food items considerably.

Middle East Unrest Exposes Food Production’s Vulnerability to Oil

Oil prices have climbed to almost the heights of two years ago as a result of the popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East and there is no telling whether they will rise further or how long they will stay that way.

Meanwhile, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that food prices had risen in February 2011 above their previous peak in 2008 and warned that they could rise even further as the unrest continues or spreads further.

All this emphasises the vulnerability of food production because of its dependence on oil and petroleum products for much of the process, starting from the production of synthetic fertiliser and continuing through industrial-style farming to the transport and processing of produce before it reaches the shops.

The connection between oil and food production and the effect of oil prices on food prices has been well rehearsed, and it is ironic that these democracy movements should have first emerged in protest at high food prices, among other things, in an area that is a major oil producer.

But the most interesting piece of recent news is an article in the China Post, Singapore, on March 7 2011. The piece, reporting on a workshop among scientists, revealed that unrestrained manufacture of what it called “cheap” pesticides and their overuse was causing problems throughout Asia’s rice paddy fields, which it said was destroying the surrounding ecosystems and actually allowing pests to thrive and multiply.

It reported that the problem was that poorly-trained farmers who were under pressure to raise crop yields were relying too much on these chemical pesticides. According to one of the participating scientists, George Lukacs, of Australia, large outbreaks of pests, called “pest storms” have been reported in China as a result.

All this suggests that the alleged benefits of cheap oil-dependent pesticides are far outweighed by the consequences of their over-use and it all reinforces the urgent need to give farmers across the world access to equally cheap but more environmentally friendly agricultural products, particularly pesticides, in order to reduce the dependence on synthetic pesticides and the reliance of oil in the food production process.

Equally important is the need for farmers to have widespread access to proper training in their use.

Research into alternatives to the older generation of synthetic, chemical-based pesticides has produced many safer, low-chemical products from the biopesticides developers. They include biopesticides, biofungicides and yield enhancers that harness use natural ingredients to which local pests and plant diseases are vulnerable.

They include crop solutions to protect soy beans, corn and wheat as well as a variety of vegetables including protection from bacterial diseases in tomatoes and peppers, to provide protection from soil diseases in potatoes and biofungicides to protect leafy vegetables from fungal diseases by harnessing the powerful biochemistry of Bacillus subtilis, a bacterial microorganism that is commonly found in the environment.

These low-chem agricultural products also leave little or no residue in the foods produced and in the land, so that damage to the surrounding ecosystem is minimised. They make it possible for farmers to increase their crop yields by cutting down the losses from diseases without depleting the land’s goodness.

It is possible that the turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East and consequent uncertainty about oil supplies will give governments across the world the incentive to accelerate their processes of getting alternative, natural and more environmentally friendly, less oil-dependent agricultural products through the registration and licensing processes more quickly and available to farmers more cheaply.

It may be hoped also that the result will be healthier, more natural and affordable food for all consumers around the world and better protection for the environment on which we all depend.

Copyright (c) 2011 Alison Withers

Certified Organic Food Products

Organic certification is a process of certification for organic food producers and the producers of other organic agricultural products. Any business that is directly involved in the food production process can seek certification, and this includes the suppliers of seeds and growing materials, farmers, companies that process food items, and restaurants and retailers as well.

From one country to the next you will find that the requirements for organic certification vary, but there are usually production standards in place that dictate growing, storage, packaging, processing and shipping requirements.

These production standards require the avoidance of synthetic chemicals, like pesticides, food additives, fertilizers, antibiotics, organisms that are genetically modified, the use of sewage sludge and irradiation. They also require keeping detailed written records of sales and production, and the use of farmland that has been completely free of all chemical inputs for at least three or more years.

In order to obtain organic certification, it is also required that organic products be completely physically separated from non certified food products, and every certified organic site is required to undergo periodic inspections to show that standards are being maintained.

The concept of organic certification addresses a growing demand for organic food on a truly worldwide level. Certified organic food products exist to assure the quality of the food that we eat, while promoting commerce at the same time. In the earliest days of the organic movement, organic certification was not required but as more consumers turn toward organic food products through the more traditional channels like grocery stores and supermarkets, the need for certification has grown exponentially. In many countries the certification process is overseen by the government, which means that there are legal restrictions on using the term “organic”. Certified organic food product producers are also held to the same level of food health and safety standards as non-certified food producers.

What makes these certifications for organically produced foods such an outstanding idea is that they show consumers which food products can be trusted. Because certified organic food products are held to guidelines and standards, consumers who purchase food items that are certified organic can rest assured that they are grown right, without chemicals or additives, ensuring healthy and risk free food products. The organic movement is growing at a quick and steady pace as more consumers realize the health benefits associated with buying organic.

As more and more consumers turn toward certified organic food products to feed themselves and their families, the guidelines associated with organic certification tend to grow increasingly specific. Growing and processing food organically is not a difficult task at all for most food producers, but it does require that these companies take a long and hard look at the way that they regard the production of food, especially when it comes to growing naturally without pesticides or other chemicals and additives.