Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

April 1, 2013

What you’re eating is mostly salt, sugar and fat

When we think about today’s plentiful food choices, it’s easy to forget that most of the items situated on the inner aisles of our supermarkets and the ingredients offered on fast food menu boards simply didn’t exist a century ago.

The overwhelming avalanche of prefabbed, precooked, and other portable food into every corner of our society represents the most dramatic nutritional shift in human history. If we really are what we eat then we are a different dietary species from what we were just a century ago.

As a population ingesting manufactured food, we consume twice as much added fats, half as much fiber, around 60 percent more added sugars, more than 300 percent more sodium, and an immeasurable quantity of corn and soybean ingredients (that are genetically engineered) than we did a century ago.

No wonder health care costs skyrocket.

Essentially, today’s manufactured foods are an industrial concoction of salt, sugar, and fat that is cleverly designed to create an addictive taste and texture for our tongues.

NOTE: It is unlikely that you think of your lunch being composed of powders, but consider the ingredients of a “Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki” sandwich as outlined in Melanie Warner’s new book, “PANDORA’S LUNCHBOX, How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal.”

The noted sandwich “includes 105 ingredients, 55 are dry, dusty substances that were added to the sandwich for a whole variety of reasons.

The chicken contains 13: potassium chloride, maltodextrin, autolyzed yeast extract, gum Arabic, salt, disodium inosinate, disodiuin guanylate, fructose, dextrose, thiamine hydrochloride, soy protein concentrate, modified potato starch, sodium phosphates.

The teriyaki glaze has 12: sodium benzoate, modified food starch, salt, sugar, acetic acid, maltodextrin, corn starch, spice, wheat, natural flavoring, garlic powder, yeast extract.

In the fat-free onion sauce, we get another eight: sugar, corn starch, modified food starch, spices, salt, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate and calcium disodiurn EDTA.

And finally, the Italian white bread has 22: wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, sugar, yeast, wheat gluten, calcium carbonate, vitamin D2, salt, ammonium sulfate, calcium sulfate, ascorbic acid, azodiacarbonanilde, potassium iodate, amylase, wheat protein isolate, sodium stearoyle lactylate, yeast extract and natural flavor.

NOTE: If “you” were to “make” this sandwich at home “for your family” with a chicken breast, Zesty Italian salad dressing, and fresh homemade bread, it would contain just a handful of the previously noted ingredients.

It’s almost time for farmer’s garden markets to sprout.

Bill Arnold

Romney, W.Va.

 

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