Misleading Food Labels: 3 Reasons We Don’t Know What We Are Eating
Do we actually know what we are eating? Seems like a no brainer, right? What we put in our mouth is our choice. We have complete control over what passes through our lips. Well, I am about to argue that that premise is false, and this is why.
1) Fraudulent or misleading food labels. The label says one thing, but the food is something else all together.
This is far more common than one would expect. There is the obvious example that recently made the news. People in Europe coming home from the grocery store with steaks labeled “beef”, only to find out later that what they were eating was horse meat. Horse meat is not dangerous, but I’m sure consumers felt more than a little deceived.
Then there is the ongoing issue of fish in the package not actually being the type of fish on the label. Pay for snapper and get something else.
Over 50 percent of olive oil sold is not pure olive oil. Often it is mixed with another seed oil and sold to us as extra virgin olive oil. Much cheaper for manufacturers, and they charge consumers as if it were actually pure.
You can check the quality of your olive oil by putting it in the fridge. It should turn sludgy. If it remains a liquid, it is not pure olive oil.
2) Ingredients in food that are not listed on the label
Most serious in my opinion, is the lack of labeling of genetically modified food in North America. More than 75 percent of the food in grocery stores is genetically modified. Are you aware you are eating GMO food when, for example, you eat breakfast cereals made by General Mills or Kellogg’s?
There is science that suggests that GMO food is cancer-causing and completely alters our gut bacteria. It does not seem to leave our bodies, which is in my opinion, rather scary. BT toxins from GMO corn has been found in the blood of 93% of pregnant women and 80% of umbilical cord blood. The prudent person would probably choose to avoid GMO food, but currently we are eating a ton of it completely unawares, because there is no labeling.
Most foods are genetically modified to either withstand Round-Up pesticide, or they are modified to contain a toxic pesticide within each cell of the plant itself (BT corn), so that when an insect eats the corn for example, the pesticide within each the corn plant’s cells will kill the insect. Of course, perfectly safe for humans to eat, they say.
I personally think it would be useful too if all pesticides, herbicides, fungicides etc. sprayed our produce were labelled. Each pesticide might be safe alone, but strawberries for example, are sprayed with about 19 different pesticides.
We have no idea how the chemical cocktail of pesticides sprayed on produce affect our biochemistry, but our poor livers are put into overdrive trying detoxify us!
Pesticides are not only sprayed on the plants but also on the soil they grow in, so the plants also take up the pesticides within their tissues. Therefore one cannot really wash pesticides off, not matter how long we soak or how hard we scrub.
Pesticides are usually sprayed by plane, or by farmers dressed in clothing that protects their body, face, nose and eyes so they won’t breathe in the toxic substances or get any on their skin.
Usually fields (and lawns) that have been sprayed have signs on them warning that they are toxic and dangerous. So … it is unsafe to walk in the fields but it is safe to eat the produce from these fields?
Would you be more likely to choose organic strawberries if you noticed a list of 19 different pesticides on the conventional ones?
3) Food labels that say something that isn’t true
If a product label says “0 transfat”, is that true? Probably not. When the transfat in the product is less than 0.5 grams per serving, it can be labeled as 0 transfat on the label according to the FDA. This transfat can add up if one eats more than one serving.
In Canada, whole wheat bread is not whole wheat. The wheat germ has been removed. Two small examples, but I better stop here or this post will never be done!
For these reasons, the grocery store and restaurants is the primary source of our food, we actually have very little control over the ingredients in our food. Bottom line is there is no reason to trust a food label.
How we can gain control over what we feed our families
Choosing organic can make a huge difference, but the best way to actually have control over what you feed yourself and your family is to opt out of the commercial food system.
Go barcode-free. Do not buy any packaged food, and know the source of your whole food.
Grow what you can. Even if you only have a windowsill, you can grow fresh herbs or salad greens.
Farmers’ Markets provide another option. Get to know the farmers, and you will find out if the chickens truly are pastured or if they are in a huge barn running around on the concrete.
It can be cheaper to get together with friends and purchase a side of grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free beef directly from the farmer.