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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Your Lunch!

  Today, a class-action lawsuit was launched in Alabama against Taco Bell's parent company Yum Foods. The suit alleges that their ground meat product contains too little beef to be classified as ground beef. There are people shocked at the other ingredients, but not I, for I know that oats, soybeans, and yeast are common fillers that are not terribly bad for most people. In fact, I probably consume all 3 on a daily basis as they are good vegetarian nutrient sources.

  While thinking of fast food in general, I was taken back to one of the first videos I used on this blog and an interesting story. When I first moved to the Island, I was helping an older cousin move to a new apartment. This cousin is something of a notorious packrat whose canned goods have poisoned people, but I didn't know the extent at the time. So she offered me a Velveeta sandwich and I ate it. Afterwards, she told me that this so-called cheese was at least 6 years old; it hadn't even been refrigerated during the entire time. Naturally, I thought she was joking; that something that old would make one ill. But she wasn't..and I was absolutely fine the next day. The sandwich and the thought completely vanished from my mind until I recalled this video because of the lawsuit. This video does confirm what I discovered that fateful day 7 years ago : that processed food simply does not break down in a fashion consistent with the fresh fruit and veg we eat every day. 

  I remember in school the prof mentioned, to the laughter of us students, that processed American-style cheese was about as nutritionally sound as a garbage bag. Naturally, we were puzzled since the stuff was the filler for many of the sandwiches in our lunch sacks and the Kraft Corporation advertised it as having all the goodness of Calcium and what-have-you. But if you look at the ingredients lists for Plastic Cheese and the most common fast food items you may (need a chemist to) realize that these foods do have more in common with the plastic that packages them than to something at a farmers' market. We know about fat and sodium, so why do we keep feeding this to our kids? 
  This is an ingredient list for a fast-food item and I'd like you to guess what it might be: 

Soybean oil, pickle relish [diced pickles, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, calcium chloride, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), spice extractives, polysorbate 80], distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard bran, sugar, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), caramel color, extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric (color), calcium disodium EDTA (protect flavor).

  This is the sauce for a Big Mac. As for the McNugget that McDo has been plugging in their healthier Happy Meal- it has 38 ingredients, most of which one cannot pronounce. We all know that this stuff is bad for us and our kids but it is cheap, convenient, and addictive. You shouldn't expect 100% dead cow when you're paying 39 cents for a taco. What freaks me out though is that this stuff doesn't decompose properly in your system and is filtered directly through your liver and kidneys Do Not Pass Go.

  And what to say for the environmental impact of such foodstuffs? I mean, we know that factory farming causes more ecological damage than anything else, but when you add in the chemical processing and fuels needed to manufacture these peculiar additives we must be talking about something more disastrous in more ways than anyone previously thought possible. And what about the leftovers, the unsold stock, the stuff that even the fat kid couldn't finish? As you'll see here, it simply does not biodegrade and same goes for the waste that simply slides through your system into the wastewater system. The point is that everything is connected.

  When we modify food in such ways that it becomes unrecognizable our bodies and the planet will cease to recognize it back.  When you need to eat on the go, consider packing a lunch. Because chances are, if it's fast it isn't food.

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