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Toxic Food Terminology

By Julie Fink
Posted On Jun 27, 2016
Toxic Food Terminology

Nowadays, everybody is taking a closer look at the food we are eating and the water we are drinking, and for good reason! Over the past decade, people across the world have been waking up to the synthetic “war on food” which entails a wide range of chemicals and toxins we eat every day. As you well know, chemicals and toxins cause disease. People are calling out their governments and regulatory agencies like the FDA, and protesting against the use of chemicals in our foods.

GMO-Kid-not-science-experiment-e1416243656403

So, I thought it would be helpful to review some of the toxic buzz words people are using; terms like BPA, Artificial Food Coloring/Dyes, and rBGH (growth hormones). Knowing these keywords will arm you with the knowledge you need to protect your body from these harmful chemicals. But before I do so, I want to highlight one of the biggies… GMOs or “genetically modified organisms” are one of the most toxic practices occurring in the food industry today. GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering (GE).

For example, plants might be genetically engineered to develop a resistance against insects, increase nutrients, or grow bigger crops. Almost like crossbreeding, where you take the gene from two different dogs and breed them; that’s the same concept they use with the plants and produce that we eat. Yikes.

This method of science is not natural.

GMOs have been part of our food for the past 20 years and are found in over 40 types of plants but are most commonly found in corn, soybean, canola, rice, walnuts, and cranberries. People are not only waking up the unhealthy state of our food, but they are standing up to it too. A recent study called, “Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America,” was published in The Journal of Organic Systems this September and links GMOs to 22 diseases with very high correlation.

Stats GMOs

If those graphs don’t scare you, this is how bad GMOs are:

According to the Non-GMO Project, most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale.

Basically, the government and its buddy, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, created GMOs to inject into corn and other plants so that they don’t have to pay for the expensive, safe, and effective insecticide practices. Ergo, they save (pocket) money,  force regulations on farmers to use GMOs, and then make profit off of all the farmers who are forced to buy the GMOs.

But, increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands. The more you know, the safer and healthier you’ll be. Here are a few more venomous vocabulary words:

Bisphenol-A (BPA): Found in food and beverage packaging like cans, linings, and plastics, this hormone-mimicker is suspected of promoting breast and prostate cancer, reproductive and behavioral problems, obesity, and diabetes.

Solution: Look for “BPA-free” when choosing plastic Tupperware and plastic water bottles.

Avoid canned foods. Don’t leave your water bottles in the car and then drink them, as heated plastic bottles will leak the BPA from the plastic into the water you drink. The same goes for microwaving your food in plastic containers; try to microwave your food in glassware instead.

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH/rBST): This is a growth hormone given to cows to increase milk production; rGBH produces elevated levels of Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in dairy products. IGF-1 is a significant factor in breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Children are developing breasts at ages as early as seven and eight years old because of the use of this hormone in American milk.

Solution: Choose organic or rBGH-free dairy products. Especially milk! Buy your milk from Whole Foods or Trader Joes.

Pesticides: Used to raise and treat produce and other products, these poisons often leave behind residues. They’ve been linked to everything from cancer to birth defects.

Chemicals-in-our-food

Over 3,000 produce samples were tested and found that almost two-thirds contained pesticide residues. The tests found a total 165 different pesticides on thousands of fruit and vegetables in the 2013 sampling (The U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2013)

Solution: Organic foods are required to be synthetic pesticide-free. Buy your produce from a farmers market, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, etc. Any produce that is not organic will most likely contain some type of toxic residue.

Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate: Bacon lovers beware! These preservatives are used in deli foods like processed meats, hot dogs, and bacon and may lead to many types of cancer.

Solution: Look for food or ask your deli counter for “uncured” and “no added nitrites/nitrates” products. They often use celery juice instead, which is high in nitrates.

Food Dyes and Artificial Food Coloring: Each year in the United States, at least 15 million pounds of dyes are used in everything from candy and fruit snacks to pickles, bread, snack foods, sodas, and desserts.  Since 1955, there has been a five-fold increase in food dye consumption, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Children, especially, are at risk to the side effects of these artificial ingredients. Food dyes are not natural and cause irregularities in the body.

In Britain, a warning label is required on all foods containing artificial food dyes. Not in the U.S.!

“Artificial food dyes have been linked to hyperactivity, allergies, and cancer, yet they are found everywhere from beverages to snack foods,” said Alan Greene, MD, a leading pediatrician and author of Raising Baby Green.

Solution: For optimal health, parents would be well-advised to limit the amount of food dyes their children consume. You can also choose natural food colorings. For example, I buy cheddar cheese with annatto seed coloring, which is bright red to give the cheddar it’s orange color.

Two other terms I’d like to mention that are actually non-toxic and good to know are cage-free and grass-fed. 

Cage-Free

Hens

You’ll see the cage-free label on the eggs you buy and it refers to the humane treatment of hens. Cage-free hens are able to walk, spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nests, which are all vital natural behaviors denied to hens confined in cages.

Eggs that aren’t cage-free (which are most eggs; the ones you buy for 99 cents) use inhumane treatment of hens (called battery hens). Battery hens live in barren conditions and are confined in battery cages, which are only 67 square inches of cage space—less space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper. Unable even to spread their wings, caged laying hens are among the most intensively confined animals in agribusiness.

It doesn’t end there.

Because the chickens are so close to each other, they peck at each other (I don’t blame them). So, the owners cut their beaks off. Nooooooo!

Just know that every time you purchase regular eggs that aren’t labeled cage-free, you are eating eggs from beakless hens that are tormented on a daily basis. Please buy cage-free eggs which can be found in most grocery stores.

Grass-Fed

This term refers to beef that can only be offered in specialty food stores such as Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Trader Joes, etc. The way cows are fed can have a major effect on the nutrients contained in the beef that we consume.

Cattle today is often fed grains, whereas the animals we ate throughout evolution roamed free and ate grass. The food that cows eat is important because we end up eating the cow, so what goes into the cow, goes into us. And what farmers are putting in the cows now, isn’t good.

The conventionally raised cows are often given drugs and hormones to grow faster, as well as antibiotics to survive the unsanitary living conditions. The cows are rapidly fattened up with grain-based feeds, usually made with a base of soy or corn (GMOs).

Organic farmers fight back by feeding their cows with grass and natural alternatives that are healthy to both the cow and human! So, smart.

The Solution to Everything 

Go organic! GMOs aren’t allowed in certified organic foods, and neither are pesticides, BPA, growth hormones, or artificial flavorings and preservatives preservatives.

I know this all seems overwhelming and you might be scoffing at the costs of organic eating. But, please, I urge you to spend the extra $20/week on these organic alternatives as an investment into your health.

Take baby steps. I do three things when I go grocery shopping every week:

  1. I buy hormone-free milk/cheese/butter, or I avoid dairy altogether and go with Almond Milk
  2. I buy grass-fed beef, hormone-free chicken, and cage-free eggs
  3. All my produce is organic and free of pesticides and GMOs

I started off with these three grocery shopping changes, and it really makes a difference in my skin, my energy, and most importantly, my long-term health.

Resources:
nongmoproject.org
humanesociety.org
mindbodygreen.com