Is Food Really Food These Days?

Food that is found on our supermarket shelves can be full of preservatives, food colourings, artificial sweeteners and other ‘non-food’ related substances.  These added ‘substances’ can be found written on the label under the list of ingredients in either word form or as a number.  Alarmingly, a lot of chemicals found in these processed foods are not even divulged on the packet or they are hidden in other substances.  So do you really know what you are putting in your mouth?

Why do they do this to our food? 

These chemicals are added into our ‘food’ to extend the shelf life, or to make the colour of the food more appealing.  Some companies pay thousands of dollars to the food technicians and formulators to create a ‘sweet spot’ so you get addicted to the flavor so you will buy more...making their shareholders very happy.

Since the 1950s, the number of food additives allowed in U.S. food (of which a lot of packet food in our supermarkets is from) has grown from about 800 to more than 10,000.  GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe,” is a loophole that was created in 1958 where by food companies are tasked with determining such status for their own ingredients.  Once an additive is granted GRAS status by an industry-hired panel, the company doesn't need to inform the FDA that the ingredient is used, and no independent third-party objective evaluation is required.  The buck stops there.

Food should be viewed as fuel for our bodies.  What we put into our bodies through our mouths affects the natural running our bodies.  As Uncle Wikipedia describes it…’Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals’.

So what happens to our bodies when we feed it food laced with all the unnatural substances?  Among some effects is that our digestive system doesn’t know what to do with it, in most cases it can’t digest it properly…. Our liver can’t process certain chemicals & our body can start to store the chemicals or it may start to purge it out via other means i.e. through the skin.  You may feel sluggish, you may feel tired, your immune system is compromised and then all sorts of things start to happen.  Let me use this metaphor to help describe the effects simply… If you put diesel into a petrol engine car what happens?  The car doesn’t work.  Same for our bodies when we feed it food that is really not food.

It is well documented that food intolerance's can be attributed to many cases of eczema. Before the invention of supermarkets, shops and the ability to send food around the world, food was grown in soil or it came off a tree.  It was naturally and organically harvested, cooked when in season and there was little to no food related eczema afflicting the skin.

Fast forward to the 21st century and the majority of food is designed to be quick, easy, addictive and travel worthy …. (extended shelf life). It’s also one of the leading causes for intolerance's within the body. 

Please, I implore you to be very careful and read the labels nest time you are at the supermarket.  If you don’t have an understanding of the chemicals on the label there is a wonderful little book you can carry around in your handbag called ‘The Chemical Maze’ written by Bill Statham.  This little ‘food bible’ has up to date information on what those numbers actually are – some are naturally derived but there is a horrendous amount that are not. 

When it comes to staying healthy, avoiding processed foods and replace them with fresh, whole foods is the "secret" you've been looking for. This might sound daunting, but if you take it step-by-step it’s quite possible, and manageable to painlessly remove processed foods from your diet. Remember, people have thrived on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits and other whole foods for centuries, while processed foods were only recently invented.

I believe you should spend 90 percent of your food budget on whole foods and only 10 percent on processed foods (unfortunately most western cultures currently do the opposite). This requires that you plan your meals in advance. Ideally, this will involve scouting out your local farmer's markets for in-season produce that is priced to sell and planning your meals accordingly, but you can also use this same premise with supermarket sales.

Try to plan a week of meals at a time, make sure you have all ingredients necessary on hand, and then do any prep work you can ahead of time so that dinner is easy to prepare if you're short on time in the evenings (and you can use leftovers for lunches the next day).  I recommend that you purchase meats from the local butcher, try and source organic veges and fruit from the local farmers market or local vege store and limit the amount of packet food that you purchase from the supermarket.  I can hear some of you groaning …. yes I know it can cost more money, it can take up your time more and let’s face it you are already running around like a headless chicken working, and looking after you family, but if you have an eczema sufferer in the family, please look at the food you are putting into their mouth and hopefully you will find what it is exactly that is causing the skin flare-ups.

Michelle Facer

Formulator of Xmaease.