by Jason Brandt (@jasondmg3)
You are in a pharmacy, invited behind the counter and offered to freely sample the variety of pills, potions, powders in the pharmacist’s stores. You check the labels to see if any of the products are recognizable and, not surprisingly, they are pretty darn foreign. But, you start to rationalize – they are in an official container, have been approved by the FDA, have made their way into the local CVS, and therefore, off goes the top, and you start to sample. First blue ones, then pink, yellow, then scored, then smooth ones, round ones, oblong ones, large ones, small ones.
Sounds ridiculous? Of course it is, who in their right mind would do that?
Ok, new quiz.
Visit your local Stop & Shop, walk down the snack aisle, grab a bag of Doritos, and check the ingredients. Corn (ok), salt (check), buttermilk (heard of it), Food acids 270, 330 (well, not so sure). But, like the drugs in the pharmacy, it’s in package, with a reputable brand name, in my trusted grocery — Food acids 270, 330 be damned – I’m hungry!
The reality is we all knowingly consume foods with ingredients we don’t know or look up before we decide to indulge. It is a matter of trust. Trust in the brand, packaging, marketing. Just like the CVS story, it should be ok.
It’s not a perfect analogy. Pills are very different than tortilla chips but my story is meant to simply make a point. Our trust in society sometimes blinds us from asking the tough questions on what we are actually putting into our body.
The irony is, consumers do put a high level of scrutiny on brands in fact consumer confidence in food safety remains fragile. According to research conducted in 2009 by the Food Marketing Institute “a majority of shoppers (72 percent) said they are “somewhat” confident in the safety of food in U.S. supermarkets versus 11 percent who said they are “very confident.” The report also found that nearly one third (31 percent) of consumers stopped purchasing a food product because of safety concerns.
In August 2010, The Washington Post reported that “when Kellogg recalled 28 million boxes of Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops and Honey Smacks, the company blamed elevated levels of a chemical in the packaging… Under current laws, the government has little or no information about the health risks posed by most of the 80,000 chemicals on the U.S. market today”
So, how do you navigate on what to buy and what not to buy? What do you trust and what don’t your trust? It’s hard, time consuming, exhausting and confusing. But I am a simple guy and try to live by simple rules. Here are a few guidelines:
1. Where did the food come from? If it’s not readily apparent where a food originated from or what the base ingredient is, don’t eat it. A few examples: an apple is from a tree, a carrot is from the earth, a New York strip is from a cow. For the most part, that’s all ok. But what’s the origin of a Pringle? A Froot Loop? A Lucky Charm? A marshmallow? A Dunkin’ Munchkin? A McNugget? A Reese’s Piece? Did they come from a tree? The earth? A beaker?
2. Count your daily calories. If you are not counting, you are definitely eating too many.
3. White foods are a no no. White sugar, white bread, white rice, white flour, white pasta. White = non-complex cabs, which, left unchecked, pack on the lbs.
4. Green is good. Not only green, but red (beets), yellow (peppers), orange (carrots). Find the colors and eat away.
5. Finally, any food ending or incorporating “Os” should be questioned, considered, reviewed debated, checked, double checked and then, Food acids 270, 330 be damned, eaten. They are not all bad, but like anything, they should be considered.
Here is partial list – just enough to make my point:
Doritos, Combos, Tostitos, Oreos, Fritos (keep reading)
Cheetos, Rolos, Cameos, Munchos, Eggos (I’m not done)
HiHos, Hohos, Bacos, Cheerios (ok, not THAT bad), Milanos and Kudos
FructOse, glucOse, sucrOse, maltOse (ok, I made my point)
Trust aside, our bodies deserve our full attention. I am no nutritionist, just a 45 year old guy who has to work really hard to fit into his 34 waist jeans. I run and lift and eat as well as my busy life allows. I take heart and cholesterol medicine…and try and stay away from the Fritos, Hohos and Bacos. Burritos on the other hand…