It’s been a long time since we humans realized that sooner or later this planet’s natural resources won’t be enough to supply all world population. From this point many of the industries in charge of providing us with products to satisfy our basic needs have had to modify their manufacturing processes with the purpose of fulfilling the demand of a population that is in constant growth.
One of the most clear cases, and the one we’ll focus on in this article, are the changes of the food industry and how their production processes have changed to such a point where now it´s harder to find natural and organic products than processed ones. In a few words, eating healthy and natural has become a luxury.
“ Who benefits from promises made by food companies: the industry or your body?”
As I´ve always told you: our health and our physical state depend enormously on the way we eat, because it’s food from where we extract all nutrients that our organism needs to survive and work properly.
Rumors are heard and news are published about the way food we eat now is being processed. This is something that impacts us all. That animals are injected with hormones so they get fat faster, that fruits and vegetables have lost their nutrients due to processes they’re put through to make them weather and plague resistant. That food labels lie to us and that quality certifications that identify or give status to certain products are sold to the best offer.
Industry From the Inside
Recently the journalist and writer Joanna Blythman published a book titled Swallow this: Serving Up the Food Industry´s Darkest Secrets. The book is about what really happens inside the processed food industry, the techniques used for these product manufacturing and the tricks they use to make products look fresh and appear to be healthy.
To be able to perform the investigation Joanna carefully infiltrated in several companies, and was able to access direction boards and exclusive information only for members of these companies.
“I realized there are so many things going on behind food manufacturing. Most consumers have no clue about it, and we’re not allowed to know. We can’t even trust in products that seem to be healthy options,” she says.
This may seem discouraging for many people who try to take care of their health and carefully read product labels. Nevertheless, what this investigation reveals is that products have additives that will never be mentioned on the labels. Industries hide behind legal arguments saying the ingredients they use are “commercial secrets” and that they only do this to protect their product patents from competitors.
But, which ingredients do they need or want to hide when what they sell is fruits, vegetables or canned meats? Is there an unknown special recipe to grow vegetables or fruits; is it necessary to hide what meat that is sold to us contains? The fact that they avoid to reveal what their products have only indicates one thing: their products are chemically altered and very probably are harmful for our health regardless of having an organic product or GMO labels.
There’s a term used in food industry called “Clean Label”. What does this mean? Food production companies realized that consumers dislike long chemical names in the ingredient list. These names are known as “label polluters” and that’s how the Clean Label term was born, which goal is to eliminate additive and chemical names to substitute them with ingredients that sound better. For example:
Tomato concentrate instead of food coloring, natural fruit tasting drink is another way of saying preservative, low fat product means that it has big quantities of sugar added.
So remember: Substitutes used in “Clean Labels” are actually additives with another name. They’re not healthier. They just sound better.
How has advertising and marketing affected our way of consuming?
According to an article published by Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Joseph Mercola processed food industry is driven mainly by health perception.
“Perception is a good word to understand what the processed food industry plans. They have this thing called “naturality perception”. All their work is aimed at giving you ingredients that sound natural but in reality are far different from that”.
“Another case is a quality similar to freshness. The industry doesn´t mention the word freshness anymore. The speak about fresh quality. There’s a series of technologies they can use behind the scenes and mostly in product labels that contain the fresh quality name. Everything related to naturality and freshness is being constantly manipulated.”
Some of the most popular lies promoted by food industry.
- Fats are the main cause of cardiovascular diseases
- Eating fat makes you gain weight
- Artificial sweeteners are safe sugar alternatives for diabetics and they help lose weight
- Soy is a healthy food
- Eggs are a big cholesterol source
- Pasteurized milk is good for health
- Transgenic food is safe and similar to natural
What should we eat, can we trust in quality certifications the industry offers?
First we have to understand several important points regarding this topic:
- There´s no institution that actually verifies the processes that are used in food industry, or that regulates information that companies give to their customers in food labels. In summary: quality certifications are sold to the best offer.
- Quality labels are focused in the hygiene of factories and means of transportation used to move products from one place to another, not on their manufacturing process.
- In Mexico there’s three types of quality labels: Mexico supreme quality, Federal Inspection Certification and Good Agriculture Practice. For more information go to: http://www.mexicoproduce.mx/sellos.html
- Always read product ingredients and avoid the ones with ingredients you don´t know.
- Eat the most natural possible.
- Don’t believe everything the industry promotes.