(Disclaimer: This post is NOT politically motivated. It also does not claim any political affiliation; it merely explains a legal issue in current news. Please do not comment with political opinions.)
Recently, someone posted a link on Facebook about the President taking a box of donuts to some Floridian firefighters. The remark made about the link to this article listed the ingredients of a typical store-bought donut and asked the question: Did he eat one?
If you are a regular around here, you know I feel strongly about eating clean, unprocessed foods. But I'm also human. How do I feel about whether or not the Commander in Chief ate a donut?
Let me first explain the preoccupation with the President's diet: a few years ago, Mr. Obama promised full transparency when it comes to our knowing whether or not a food is genetically modified. That still hasn't happened. In fact, FDA officials - appointed by the current administration - have also been handed cushy and influential positions within the very companies in charge of genetic modification, for one: Monsanto. All of this is taking place while the Obama family supposedly only eats organic food.
Now, the issue is on the ballot in California. "Label GMO's". The proposition is called Prop 37, and if you haven't heard about it or if you don't know what GMO's are, it's worth a Google. If the citizens of California vote this into effect, it has been speculated that it can change the entire way we shop for our food and could possibly lead to the fall of a great food industry Goliath (Monsanto).
Now what do I think about the President possibly eating a Krispy Kreme donut?
I don't care what he eats. I try to eat as cleanly and organically as possible, and once in a great while, I cheat by eating my guilty pleasure - complete with MSG and red dye #40. Other times, I may eat the tortilla chips at the local Mexican restaurant, fully realizing that the corn they are made with is probably a GMO.
Thing is, we can all be hypocrites. It's human nature to fall back on what we know (or what we were previously addicted to).
Don't get me wrong. I feel very passionate about having GMOs labeled and knowing the truth about what is in our food. But if most of us were to be judged on this issue, I fear we would all be condemned.
Unfortunately, for most of us, our choices are limited. I live in a small town and am forced to take (or rather buy) what I can get at the local grocery store. And requesting a certain product is an exercise in futility because there are few people around here who appreciate unprocessed or organic food. So, against my personal convictions, I buy the organic orange that is still probably genetically modified, and I eat the organic potatoes that still probably had pesticides in their soil.
We live in a world full of greedy, selfish people. Until that changes, I will pick my battles.
Okay let's do this.
What do you think of when I say "Food Snob"? Some uppity rich guy at a wine tasting, talking down his nose about cedar and notes of cherry and vanilla in this $400 bottle? Or a food blogger who visits area restaurants, taking photos of the food, doing reviews and nattering on like "the foie gras was mediocre and I cared very little for the watercress salad, but the lamb was perfectly seared and was packed with flavor." Either way, people like this usually spend a lot of money on their food, and they want you to know it, right? And, just as the negative connotation of the word "snob" goes, these people are viewed negatively because they give the air that they are better than you. Well, according to some, there's another kind of Food Snob out there.
Frankly, I am sick and tired of people getting mad at each other for what they call food snobbery, and today I am setting the record straight. By the way, I am not paid by any organization to express my opinions today, nor is my yearly household income more than $100,000 (not even close), so I feel I am adequately qualified to bear some light on the matter. It may lose me a few Facebook fans, but the truth should finally come out.
What Are People Saying? To start, I went to my Kitchen Psycho Facebook Fan Page and asked the fans, what do you think of when I say "Food Snob"? The answers were mixed. A majority (by an albeit small margin) felt the phrase was negative in nature and gave the impression of "I'm better than you because I eat cooler stuff". The minority, I suppose because they are aware of my clean eating mission, said they were proud to be food snobs, since, as April Norman put it, "As a self proclaimed food snob and parent, I buy the best I can afford, and prepare it in the healthiest, most creative ways. For me it is not a bad thing."
Good for you, April! But, in my humble opinion, that's just responsible parenting.
Next, I interviewed four fellow food bloggers for their opinion on the matter. I asked two questions: how do you feel about the title "food snob", and do you think that chefs, cooks, caterers or food bloggers are responsible for what they present or promote to the public?
Mia from Mia's Domain feels that a food snob is "someone who offensively acts superior in their food knowledge or food tastes." But she also feels that being more knowledgeable about food does not make one a food snob and that knowledge can be measured subjectively. Jay from Foodies Are Us says food snobs "are attached to chefs, places and an perceived 'social status' about eating at restaurants. They are the people who only frequent expensive restaurants because they are just that, expensive. They attach food experiences to who they met, how much they spent and who was wearing what." Being a foodie, on the other hand, is someone for whom food is the center of the social activity.
Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls says, "I call myself a chocolate snob because I will not settle for poor quality/mass market chocolate, but does that make me a food snob? I don't know. I think quality IS important and if you get the best ingredients, you will have the best food."
And Melissa from ChinDeep says food snobbery is "not necessarily negative. People who care about what they eat, and people who want to only cook with quality ingredients may be considered food snobs in some circles. Then there are those who only cook with expensive ingredients and brand name products and talk about it incessantly... "I purchased such and such at Williams Sonoma..." I think this is where food snobbery really gets a bad name. Don't get me wrong, I love Williams Sonoma. I just don't think we have to always buy designer condiments and embellishments to end up with a beautiful dish in the end. I agree, to some extent, with all of these folks. But do these things make me a food snob? WHAT IS THE TRUTH? A snob is a snob is a SNOB. Merriam Webster defines a snob as "one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste." If you look down on someone for their choices, you are a snob. But is it really that simple? Actually, yes. But let's make sure we all understand what this entails. I recently saw the Facebook post of a fellow food blogger expressing her frustration with a fan who commented on her use of processed food. Apparently, the fan was disappointed that this blogger had chosen not to use her own ingredients, and rather, used a product with preservatives and chemicals. The blogger was irate, to say the least, and in her post, lambasted the fan by remarking that she has the prerogative to do whatever she wants with her own food and her own blog. Then she called this fan a food snob. (This is how I was inspired to write this post.)
Look, I totally support this blogger's right to do what she wants. It's her blog and her food and her business. Her blog doesn't contain any mission statement about "clean eating" or "no processed food eating." And like Jay from Foodies Like Us says, "We are all grown-ups with the ability to control what goes in our mouths." Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls adds, "If there is something that people don't like, they can simply not visit/follow that blog." That said, it is my humble opinion that the before-mentioned blogger was dead wrong on the food snob comment. Now, anyone who has been following Kitchen Psycho for any length of time knows that I am crazy conscious about clean eating and cutting out processed foods. (Oh, and FYI: the fan who made the comments to that blogger was not me, I swear!) Because I KNOW BETTER, I feel a responsibility to tell others what I know. Put it this way: If I passed someone drowning in a pool and there was a life-saving device nearby, I would be negligent - and possibly bloodguilty - if I did not offer help to that person. This is the obligation I feel toward my readers when I find information that proves our food supply is compromised. I feel that in this role, I am educating my fans, not pushing my superiority on them. And I would also feel like a colossal hypocrite for preaching these things and then not doing my best to show the public that I'm living by them. I'm Not The Only One... People these days are waking up. They are SCREAMING for guidance in a world where doctors and other authorities lie, deny, or pass the buck. Everyone is scrambling for a shred of truth and when they see what looks like good food, they want it to be real. Anything else is highly frustrating. We want our health back! That blogger was within her rights to be irritated. But her "fan" was not a snob. She was an AWESOME FOOD ADVOCATE. (Thanks, Pastry Chef Online! I was already thinking about using "advocate"!) An advocate is a person that defends a cause. And when we shell out the big bucks - because that's what it is nowadays - we are advocating the food we buy. Whether it's Twinkies and Pepsi or hummus and green tea, we are promoting either corporations or ourselves. Food blogger Mia from Mia's Domain says, "As a food blogger I feel that we have been given a global stage, we have a responsibility to our followers by posting a well balanced array of recipes and treats. At the end of the day, people should also be responsible for their own actions and nutritional habits." And Melissa from ChinDeep feels an obligation "to help people create healthy, wonderful, delicious dishes no matter their budget." Am I A Food Snob? I hope not. I don't ever want to come across that way. But I will do my best to educate my fans about clean eating and clean living. Don't you all deserve that? Let's get healthy, people! And share the wealth of knowledge we can all learn from each other. And be an AWESOME FOOD ADVOCATE!(Thanks to all contributors to this post. You were not paid for your opinions, and your time was much appreciated! For everyone else, if you would like to check out the blogs mentioned, the links are listed below.)www.chindeep.com www.miasdomain.com
So you've chosen to start eating healthier. You're eating more vegetables, you're cutting out excessive carbohydrates and sugar, you're even eating more yogurt, because the commercials say it's good for you and keeps you regular.
Congratulations! You're doing ALMOST everything right.
First of all, let's address the commercial claims, primarily the one made by Activia yogurts: The Activia commercials say that eating their yogurt will help you stay regular. Did you know that they recently were ordered to pay a 21 MILLION-dollar fine for saying that? See what Bruce Horovitz of USA Today reported:
"Yogurt is a $4.2 billion-plus business in the USA, with sales up 8% over the past year, says researcher SymphonyIRI Group. The two Dannon products cited by the FTC both contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. But, Nestle says, "Yogurt is just food. It's not a miracle. No food is a superfood."
The government says Dannon will stop claiming that one daily serving of Activia yogurt relieves irregularity and that DanActive helps people avoid catching colds.
"These types of misleading claims are enough to give consumers indigestion," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz says. 'Companies like Dannon shouldn't exaggerate the strength of scientific support.' "
Granted, their claim is made in good faith, because it IS true that probiotics will improve the health of your intestines, thereby improving digestion. But the other ingredients contained in their Strawberry Light yogurt, for example, are highly disturbing:
Cultured Grade A Non Fat Milk, Strawberries, Water, Modified Food Starch Fructose, Inulin, Contains Less than 1% of Acacia Gum, Modified Corn Starch
, Natural Flavor, Kosher Gelatin, Carmine (for Color), Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Aspartame
, Xanthan Gum, Malic Acid, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose
Let's take the first one: Modified Corn Starch:
What is it? Jeanne Sager at The Stir informs us: "Modified corn starch is a food additive which is created by treating starch, causing the starch to be partially degraded. Modified corn starch can be used as a stabilizer, thickening agent, or an emulsifier.
There does not appear to be any research indicating that modified corn starch is dangerous to our health. However, processed foods, which may be high in sodium, fat, or sugar, often contain modified starches. Consuming too much processed food may be detrimental to health (due to increased intake of sodium, empty calories from sugar, saturated fat, etc).
A food that is natural (from nature- like whole fruits and vegetables) won't have any additives. So these of course are always are BEST choice. However, if you look at even more natural yogurts, like a Greek yogurt, you will notice less additives (no modified starch, no HFCS, etc) making it an even more natural, healthier choice."
Bottom line on Modified Corn Starch: it's not necessary, and while it's not technically unhealthy, it's an inferior ingredient.Aspartame and Sucralose (better known as Splenda):
What are they? They are man-made sugar substitutes, chemical in nature, and they are, in a nutshell, the reason most people are sick today.
Side effects of aspartame intake include a variety of cancers, brain disorders, DNA damage, and emotional, mental and neuro-developmental disorders, as well as ADD, migraines and liver damage.
Is all of that really worth cutting calories?
Sucralose is another chemical demon, claiming to be derived from sugar. Yeah, sure it is. Its chemical makeup is this:
"Sucralose/Splenda is produced through artificially substituting three hydroxyl groups (hydrogen + oxygen) with three chlorine atoms in the sugar (sucrose) molecule. Natural sugar is a hydrocarbon built around 12 carbon atoms. When transformed into Splenda it becomes a chlorocarbon, in the same family as deadly pesticides like DDT, insecticides, biocides, disinfectants like Chlorox Bleach, and WWI poison gas like dichlorourea." - (http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/bitter-truth-about-splenda
Are you worried yet? Do you want to hear the adverse reactions?
Here's a list: enlarged liver and kidneys, bowel inflammation, migraines, abnormal changes in spleen and thymus gland, DNA damage, colitis, Chron's Disease, and adverse changes in gastrointestinal bacteria. Adverse changes in gastrointestinal bacteria.
What is a product like Splenda doing in a product like Activia yogurt, which claims to IMPROVE gut health????
Now look at the photo to the right. This is a photo of the back of a container of Yoplait's Light Cherry-flavored Yogurt. The ingredients that should pop out at you are HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, ASPARTAME, RED #40, and BLUE #1.
We have all been informed, or should have been by now, of the evil of high fructose corn syrup. (If you would like some medical studies on the results of the intake of HFCS, google the words "greenmedinfo" and "high fructose corn syrup".) But what is it doing in a LIGHT yogurt? And again with the aspartame...
Lastly, you have the food dyes. Red food dye, in particular, is a well documented contributor to ADD and ADHD symptoms. It's no wonder that most foods advertised to children contain food dye! And most of these kids are on ADHD medication! Why don't we try taking food dye out of their diets and see what happens??
The point here is READ YOUR LABELS. Just because it says "light" on the label, doesn't mean it's good for you. In this case, the best option is a plain organic yogurt with your own fresh fruit added. Add a little honey if you like. I enjoy Stonyfield Farms' line of yogurts, but find what is available to you locally and EAT SMART. You may just get healthy yet!