The Dirty Secrets of Food Processing. Strong Stomach required.
After my post on the Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards, a good friend of mine sent me an article on food processing secrets that chilled me to the bone.
Now, I know this is slightly off topic even though I've labelled this a food and drink article. But I like to think that ‘living large’ is also about making wise decisions with your money. And when you see these revelations, you may think twice abut where your grocery money goes.
The article was taken from a presentation written by Sally Fallon, the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Sally is also a chef, nutrition researcher and founder of A Campaign for Real Milk. I won’t give a complete transcript of the presentation, it’s around 16 pages long and you can read it here (it’s both an excellent and worrying read.) But I will give some snippets of the story to make you look twice at a few things in your pantry and fridge. (See also: Is "Health Food" Worse for You than Junk Food?)
Food Processing – industrial damage
In modern times we favor factory and industrial processing, which destroys the nutrients in food rather than increasing them, and makes our food more difficult to digest. Furthermore, industrial processing depends upon products that have a negative impact on our health, such as sugar, white flour, processed and hydrogenated oils, additives, synthetic vitamins and an extrusion processing of grains. These are the tools of the food processing industry.
Packaged Cereal – now without goodness
Dry breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. A slurry of the grains is put into in a machine called an extruder, which forces them out of a hole at high temperature and pressure and turns them into pleasing shapes. Then a blade slices off each flake or shape, which is then sprayed with a coating of oil and sugar to make the cereal milk-proof and keep it crunchy. MMM.
This process destroys most of the nutrients in the grains, including fatty acids and even the chemical vitamins added at the end. And ALL the boxed cereals are made this way, even ones sold in health food stores. It’s all about cutting costs, not making nutritional food.
Four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water and synthetic vitamins and minerals. A second group received puffed wheat (an extruded cereal), water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given only water. A fourth set was given nothing but water and chemical nutrients.
The rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks- even before the rats that got no food at all. Autopsy results revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock. That was just one test. You can read more about the other tests in Sally’s complete article.
Processing milk destroys it. You should be able to live exclusively on raw cow milk, but our industrial system puts dairy cows inside on cement and gives them foods they are not designed to eat—grain, soy, citrus peel cake and bakery waste. In turn, these cows produce watery milk which is very low in fat.
Milk from these industrial cows is shipped to milk factories, where lots can go wrong. The largest milk poisoning in American history was in 1985. More than 5,000 people across three states fell ill after a "pasteurization failure" at an Illinois plant.
In these factories, milk is completely remade. 1st, it’s separated into fat, protein and other solids and liquids. These are reconstituted to set levels for whole, low-fat and no-fat milks; in other words, the milk is reconstituted to be completely uniform. Of the reconstituted milks, whole milk is the closest to original cow's milk.
The butterfat left over goes into butter, cream, cheese, toppings and ice cream. The dairy industry loves to sell low fat milk and skim milk because they make a lot more money from butterfat when consumers buy it as ice cream.
Many people, particularly children, cannot tolerate the stuff we call milk. That’s because the pasteurization process deforms and denatures the proteins in milks to such an extent that when we drink it, the body mounts an immune response instead of deriving instant nourishment.
Fortunately what we call real milk, that is full-fat milk from pasture-fed cows, milk that is not pasteurized, processed or homogenized, is becoming more available (see realmilk.com).
A note on the production of skim milk powder: liquid milk is forced through a tiny hole at high pressure, and then blown out into the air. This causes a lot of nitrates to form and the cholesterol in the milk is oxidized. Those of you who are familiar with my work know that cholesterol is your best friend; you don't have to worry about natural cholesterol in your food; however, you do not want to eat oxidized cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, to atherosclerosis. So when you drink reduced-fat milk thinking that it will help you avoid heart disease, you are actually consuming oxidized cholesterol, which initiates the process of heart disease.
In processing, the whole orange is put into the machine. And when they put the oranges in the vats and squeeze them, all the nasty pesticides go straight into the juice.
A study carried out in Hawaii found that consumption of fruit and fruit juices was the number one dietary factor for the development of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers speculated that the real culprits were the pesticides used in fruit.
The FDA has decreed that we can no longer buy raw juice, because it might be a source of pathogens. But they have found fungus that is resistant to pressure and heat in the processed juices. They also found E. coli in orange juice that was pressure resistant and had survived pasteurization.
Another study shows just how toxic and damaging these juices are to teeth. They found that rats had more tooth decay from these commercial juices than they did from soda pop!
And have you ever wondered why processed orange juice stays cloudy, why the solids do not settle? Well, soy protein combined with soluble pectin is added, keeping the juice permanently cloudy. Good to know if you have a soy allergy, right?
Processed Food Affects Fertility and Facial Structure
As children eat processed foods, with each generation the facial structure becomes more and more narrow. Healthy faces should be broad. When societies abandoned traditional diets and began to eat processed foods, the next generation was much more susceptible to diseases of every sort.
We know from animal studies that if you continue a deficient diet for three generations, reproduction ceases and that's what we're seeing now. About 25% of couples are infertile. If we don't go back to a diet that produces good health, the human race will eventually die out.
To sum up...
As I say, the complete article by Sally Fallon goes into so much more detail, and also covers topics like natural and artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils and trans fats. I urge you to read it, then to look much more closely at the labels on all of your grocery store items.
Spend your money wisely, yes. But don’t always go for the cheap foods, because the more expensive, genuinely organic alternative may cost a little more but it certainly won’t be as costly to your health.