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Cheap Food, Real Food Hype

English: Photo by R L Sheehan of commercially ...

Let’s get something straight: “All natural,” “natural flavor,” and “natural ingredients” don’t mean shit. Well, actually, maybe they do mean shit. Shit is natural.

“Natural” is a clever marketing term from dear old Madison Avenue, where the dear old ad agencies roam. “Natural” is a term designed to fool you into thinking a food product is healthy and good for you. “Natural” can be used ANY WAY THE FOOD COMPANY WANTS TO USE IT. If they can find something in nature that mimics a natural flavor, like castoreum that is sometimes extracted from the anal glands of a beaver to make artificial raspberry flavoring, they’ll throw the “natural flavor” label on the product. Even though it’s not done a lot because the critter has to be talked into excreting it…. well,

First of all, euu. Second, WHO tasted the anal glands of a beaver and decided “this is just like eatin’ a raspberry?” It’s a Jeff Foxworthy bit if ever I’ve heard one. Here’s a thought, why not simply use raspberry juice or even the flippin’ raspberry itself to flavor stuff? I mean seriously, the anal gland of a beaver? I’ll go with no flavoring at all if that’s the case.

Food with “natural” anything is a chemical experiment. It’s cheaper to add this to that and get something resembling the real taste of a real food than it is to grow it, water it, harvest it, ship it and stock it in the stores. There is a lot more manual labor involved, so the cost of real food is higher than the “Frankenfood.” And Frankenfood has to compete with other Frankenfoods, so Madison Avenue designs clever ad campaigns to fool us. When the last time you saw two different brands of bananas duking it out on TV, or a brand of mango trashing talking another? It doesn’t happen.

Real food doesn’t need ad campaigns. You may see a few, like for Cuties (oranges) or the old Chiquita banana and the Idaho potato commercials. But I can’t recall ever seeing them for: asparagus, mushrooms, lettuce, carrots, peppers, onions, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes or radishes. People eat them anyway.

Food companies, whether they are fast food chains or mega brands like Kraft, Nestlé, etc. have one goal and one goal only, and that is: to make money. HOW can they make money? By putting CHEAP ingredients in their foods. They ARE NOT CONCERNED WITH YOUR HEALTH. So stop believing all the fucking hype about natural this or whole-grain that. Whole grain is great if it doesn’t come with a lot of other processed muck, and I’m slowly changing my stance on whole grains even being healthy for you. They are better than a lot of alternatives, but at least as far as bread products go, they are still processed food. We don’t exactly walk out to the field and start munching on a stalk of wheat or oats.

The easiest way to avoid buying overly processed foods is to simply shop the perimeter of the store. Dive into the aisles for things like cleaning vinegar, nuts, or my personal favorite food group: coffee. Take your time in replacing your favorite Frankenfood, and don’t expect every change to mean that you can NEVER have your favorite food again. Just limit that crap out of it. I used to LOVE hot dogs as a kid, and now I allow myself to have one (as close to a healthy version as possible) once a year on July 4th, if I want it. At Christmas, I get to have a slice of pecan pie, organic as possible. In springtime, when Swensons drive-in opens, I’ll allow myself a sloppy American burger if I want it. (I don’t always because I imagine the price I’ll pay with my digestion over three days.) The thing is limiting the bad foods, and not, not ever having them again. Remember you’ve tasted ALL the bad foods before, and many times over, I’m betting. So try some new things. Healthy things. Tasty things. And let me know what you discover.

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