Secret Ingredients

Growing up, I was comforted to learn about the seal of approval from the USDA. I thought that meant my government was looking out for me, making sure that what landed on my table was safe and nutritious. Looking back I wonder if I was lulled into a false sense of security. I know that in every other sector of the consumer market it's 'buyer beware', but does the same apply to something as fundamental as food?

Shockingly, I think the answer is yes. In Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book Eat to Live he explains how the food industry and the USDA manipulate the numbers to make us think we're consuming low fat foods. Take milk for example: You would think "2% milk" means that only 2% percent of the calories in the container come from fat, but Dr. Furhman points out that 35% of the calories in that container come from fat. That's not much better for you that whole milk, which derives 49% of it's calories from fat. Furhman is right when he calls this a sad trick played on the American people.

According to Furhman, most bread and pasta labeled "whole wheat" is actually white flour. Manufacturers may add some whole wheat, but sometimes they just add caramel color and call it whole wheat to make consumers think they're eating something healthy; white bread with a tan. Do you see where I'm going with this? By now most of us know there all kinds of unhealthy, hidden ingredients in fast food. But do any of us really know how many toxic additives are in the rest of our food? Or what's in our bottled water?

When did we lose the right to know what we are eating? When did food labeling become a con game to make us think we're eating healthy even when we are not? Why is the government assisting those who wish to confuse us?

I first started researching food safety when I discovered the food industry was lobbying Congress for the right to put genetically modified fruits and vegetables on the shelves without labeling them as altered. The big chains had figured out that organic was a selling point so they pushed to have the government definition of organic broadened to include foods not necessarily grown organically.

I don't understand how corporations became my partner in determining what and how I want to eat. Its one thing to bombard me with advertising for foods with little nutritional value; it's clearly another when I am robbed of any choice at all--which is where I think we're headed.

What I choose to ingest is a very personal choice. Since most of us no longer have the ability to grow our own food, we have to have to right to know how the food we buy was produced. We have to be able to trust what is written on the label and we should have the right to decide if we want food that has been genetically altered before we buy it.

If you agree, lend your voice to mine. The government has already shown that it is not capable of protecting us; it's up to us to protect ourselves.