Hearing In the Sumertime - Mungo Jerry
Mel's work on Trans Fats
It's really amazing the things we'll eat these days.
I have always admired the "good old days", you know the days when your grandparents had to walk uphill both ways to get to school while sharing one pair of shoes amoung the sibblings in the freezing snow, and they were happy to do so? This is why I spend a lot of time listening to the stories from older generations. While I was doing research for this discussion and came across a gross amount of junk that we really consume in our lifetime, I was compelled to ask my father about the kind of foods he consumed in his younger years.
"When I was a kid we had to hunt and grow our food, we didn't just get it out of a grocery store. It would have costs too much to feed 9 kids otherwise". (Yeah, grandma was busy procreating).
Point is, there was a time when food and living for that matter was simpler.
Exactly what are we putting in our foods these days?
For one, we are dousing our foods with sugar. Lots and lots of sugar baby! Fructose, Corn syrup, sucrose, glactose, corn syrup, all of it is sugar in one way or another. All of it breaks down as glucose in the body. What does the body do with it? It uses it for energy. Anything it doesn't readlily use it stores in the body as fat to use at another time. Now I understand why I can't fit into my size 8 jeans after all those years of cheesecake.
Hydrogenated oils. Everytime I hear this word, I think of the Amish churning cream to make butter (thanks Weird Al!), but what exactly is it? Well, simply put it's vegetable oil saturated with hydrogen to make it into a solid product. This was our parents answer to their fears of saturated fats. Kinda looks the same, kinda tastes the same (if you don't have a well trained pallet), but it's not! These days there is strong evidence to conclude that trans-fat comsumption causes coronary heart disease. If you've ever heard of someone getting a "bipass" because of "clogged arteries", take a minute and try to remember what they've been eating the last few years.
If it's so bad exactly why is the food industry still using these ingredients?
There's so many numerous reasons that I believe we are putting these chemicals into food products that at this point, I could probably write a book on it, but for the sake of getting to the point, I'll try to be brief and use four of my favorites:
1) Preservatives. Many of these ingredients are used either singlularly or in unison to prevent decay of a product. Decay of the product means loss in profits. The longer it's on the shelf, the harder it gets to sell unless the consumer thinks it won't go rancid.
2) Appearance. If it looks pallatable, it must be pallatable. It may look better than it tastes, but if the consumer thinks it's worth digesting, there's more money to be made by the manufacturers.
3) Cost effectiveness. Why spend twice as much in overhead making a product that can be made cheaper with synthetic flavors and high fructose corn syrup than you have to?
4) Taste. If it tastes good, the consumer will buy it. Lot's of it. Cha-Ching!
In order to understand how to run a successful business, you have to understand how consumers think. If they want it, and you got it, providing it doesn't cost you more to make than to sell, you're in the money baby!
But it doesn't say all that stuff is in the food I'm eating, I checked!
I like to refer to this is scientific gargon. It all works the same. You go to the doctor and tell him you have a problem and he wants to give you a long list of medical terminology you don't understand unless you google it. Why? Maybe it's because he doesn't want you to freak out in his office with the thought that you could contract MRSA, or maybe he's hoping you're not smart enough to actually google the thing out. I think the food industry must have gone to this lingo convention also, because it all works the same way. Unless you are wise enough to do some research, the only other people who are going to understand what BHT is would be either someone who is in the food industry, the doctor who has to treat you for years of overconsuming these ingredients, or the smart consumer that took the time to actually figure out what it was. (BHT by the way is short for butylated hydroxytoluene, a phenolic compound that is often added to foods to preserve fats).
Ok. If it's just so awlful, why are we still eating it?
This is where the point of the "simpler days" rolls in. Once there was a time when sugar was not readily available, in fact, there was a time when the government actually rationed out these supplies. Those were the days you spent hot Sunday afternoons under a huge oak tree sippin' on lemonade watching the day pass by. Today the world is a much different place. Everyone's always on the move, always some place to be in a hurry, who has time to cook a nutritious meal? Hello McDonalds!
People by nature don't take the time to think about what food gives nutrition to their bodies. We are a generation of indistructables. If we get broke, moden technology will fix it; artery gets clogged, just bypass it! Generally our society doesn't consider that the body will give out from the abuse. Our focus is mainly on how much can we obtain and take with us before we die. If you're getting hungry during this pursuit, just shove something in the mouth to make the urge to eat go away. Feeling a little blue? Try some double fudge rum raisin cake. Isn't that soothing?
Parts of Europe and Canada are already realizing what mass consumption of these ingredients will do to their economic society and have designated laws for manufacturers insisting that they remove these ingredients, particuallarly those that have trans fatty acid contents in their food products. How have they come to this realization? Because these are the target areas that have medical care provided to it's people by the government. Over consumption of these ingredients means more health risks factors and that means more visits to the doctor's office and more surgical proceedures, thus taking more funds out of the government's pockets to pay for all of it.
Why aren't all Americans screaming, "Do away with all trans-fats"?
Here's a few of my favorite reasons:
1) Change is slow, and by nature, we don't like it. We look forward to our venti double mocha-carmel, extra foam, extra hot, extra whipped cream with a hot biscotti. Don't speak to me until I've consumed it.
2) I can't possibly have a heart attack. I'm only 29 (again).
3) I'm an American! I live in Amerrica! I'll eat and consume what I please. If I wanted to be told what I could eat, I'd live in a communist country. (Heard that one from my dad).
4) I tried to eat healthy, but I didn't feel any better and I was dragging about all day without my Mountain Dew, and since I risk getting fired if I don't try to perform at my optimum, I'd rather risk my health than my mortgage. (Heard that one at work).
5) First the experts said eggs were bad for us, now all of a sudden they aren't so bad. Now they say that the bacon they told me I couldn't have is better than the twinkie I want to have. If I wait around long enough, they'll find some nutritional benefits to twinkies and go onto to something else being bad for me. (Heard that from one of my employees).
6) Money, money, and oh, did I say money? Ever notice how it's cheaper to feed your entire family of 6 at McDonalds than it is to go to the local grocery store and buy all the ingredients to make lemon peper chicken with asparagus tips?
Why isn't our government trying to regulate the use of trans-fats?
Did I mention money earlier? Yeah, think I did. How about I mention politics, but I think if you follow the chain down, it would come back down to...money.
It took a long time to convince manufacturers to change equipment over to handle the use of trans fats opposed to the common use of saturated fats before the 1980's, it's going to take just as much time for them all to get on the wagon for this change. If some manufacturers are still producing with the good old stand-by ingredients and you're trying to go health conscience on them, who do you think will make more money from the endeavor? Why not line your local representatives pockets with champaign donations to keep this issue off the table altogether?
The medical industry means money. Sure, we could adopt a policy on health care for everyone, but who would pay for all of those liposuctions? Specialists make far more green than General Practitioners because they get paid to know their stuff. Already you see so many doctors who won't accept Medical Aid from their patients because they want to be paid. Can you imagine how much worse it would get if the program was readily available to everyone?
Remember the back-scratcher. Ever find yourself complaining about the economy? Ever wonder why right before an election all of a sudden the government gives you some ease in your pocketbook? Works the same way with bills and laws; remember I did this for you and there's an election coming up
Think I ate a lot of beans and I'm full of hot air? Don't take my word for it. I've just come to this conclusion from hours of research on the web. Check out a few sites and I think you'll see my point!