At the end of February the Wall Street Journal reviewed these two books, Pandora’s Lunchbox by Melanie Warner and Salt Sugart Fat by Michael Moss. Each had distinct yet very important messages about food.
What caught my eye most was the attention given to processed foods. Americans consume 70% of their calories that way. In addition, the latest numbers indicate that a third of the adults and a fifth of the children are clinically obese.
When I hear processed foods, I think “chemicals.” In general, a processed food is a kind of food that looks real but is mostly made up of chemicals. The best way to explain this is by using the example of bread. Did you ever stop to look at how many chemicals are listed on most packages? A lot. By chance I recently saw the ingredients on a loaf of French bread, noticed it had only four, flour, water, salt, and yeast. I bought the bread, and it was delicious. What a rich and (pardon the expression) “natural” flavor it had.
To be a delicious tasting bread, it turns out that all you really need is those four ingredients. You probably also know that matzoh has three. No need for yeast there! In addition, Ms. Warner also tells us that there are 105 ingredients in Subway’s Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich. She recounts the long list of chemicals alone in the chicken. She adds that the Italian white bread has ammonium sulfate (inorganic salt often used in fertilizer), azodicarbonamide, potassium iodate, sodium stearoyl lactylate and natural flavor (natural!)
Mr. Moss has another kind of warning. Be careful. He says that many food companies use “all the tricks in the book” to get you to buy their products. When they say something nice like that they are lowering an ingredient like fat, they are adding more sugar.
The Ideas of March!
Take that good advice that has been around for a long time now. Go shopping with your kids and stick to the periphery of the store. Make it into a “fun event” and see how many “fresh foods” you and your child can decide on together to add to or replace some of your other choices.