"Made Fresh" & "Natural" - For Real? NOT

I was at the grocery store today which is Friday and the kids are finally out of school for the summer. For some reason though, I found myself exhausted - especially at the thought of cooking dinner. (I enjoy preparing meals, but I admit that some days I wish I could come up with something simpler. Today was one of those days.)

I shop the perimeters of the grocery stores except for a few items that I "allow" (my children give me a hard time about this, but I'd just rather make those "other" snack items at home using REAL ingredients).

But today I found myself intrigued by the store's offer today boasting the words "made fresh". I have to admit that this happens to me often - even though I know better. I thought, okay...I'll take a look. I mean, I knew it would have some ingredient that was against the anti-candida diet that I'm on, but I thought I'd give it a looksie to see if it were something I could bring home for the other members of my family. Hey, if I'm not going to cook, I could at least pick something simple and tasty, right?

I read the ingredients and most looked "OK". Then there was this "Sodium Hexametaphosphate " -  words that I had never seen before on any ingredients package and it stopped me in my tracks.

I know, I know, "Made Fresh" isn't supposed to imply "natural" - but it does guide you into thinking that there would only be ingredients that you would be familiar with, right? I mean, I don't have a bottle of Sodium Hexametaphosphate among my spices. What is it? It's a chemical additive that ... (read the link below).

Unfortunately, the grocery stores are full of food products which have ingredients that are NOT natural...so we shouldn't be eating them. As usual, I Googled the words and found this article published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11766135). Well, I just couldn't buy it.

It's so hard when you take a deeper look to just let things like this slide. I'm sure there are a lot of things that I'm unaware of that are still in my food that I would rather not be there. But I try to take every opportunity to choose the best I can for my family. Reading labels is mandatory.
I want to encourage you to take a DEEPER LOOK at the ingredients in the food you are buying if you are not accustomed to doing so yet.

Oh, but what about that word "Natural" that appears on many labels too? What is that supposed to mean?
"From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances."

I have never seen that definition before and I could not have put it into any better words. That is a quote directly from the FDA (http://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/transparency/basics/ucm214868.htm). "Processed and is no longer the product of the earth" is that stands out to me as a REALLY GOOD definition.

OK, when we cook food and mix them together we change things up a bit. But I really think this definition is right on when referring to foods that are packaged on the grocery store shelves. If we cook with REAL food ingredients, no matter how much we cook/heat it up or stir it/mash it together or add herbs for flavor - the food is still a product that is from the earth. What I believe they are referring to in that definition is that the food has been so tampered with by adding man-made chemicals that are not natural (of the earth): which translates to this - our bodies cannot correctly process/digest the food and its unidentifiable by the human body. (What happens to our bodies as a result of eating these foods is another future post.)

But, WAIT! What about GMOs (Genetically-Modified Organisms)? Are they NATURAL since they come from the earth (or at least can be grown from the earth)?

OK. OK. I know this is a lot to think about. So I'll leave this article to stand on its own. Yet, I hope it encourages you to do some research into our food industry.

Oh, but I cannot complete this post yet. There is one more thing. I found this at HEB's website and I highly commend them for posting such.  I end with this.
Be a Food Label Detective
The best place to start when learning about a food is to investigate the nutrition facts label. First, identify how much of the food a serving provides. Be careful! Sometimes what appears to be a "typical serving" is in fact two or three servings per container.

The Ingredient List

Another important place to hunt for key information of packaged food is on the list of ingredients:
  • Here you can find out if a loaf of bread or breakfast cereal is made with 100% whole grains or enriched flour.

  • If you see "partially hydrogenated oils" in this list, there are actually Trans fats in the food, even if the nutrition label shows "0 grams" Trans Fat.

  • You might also detect "hidden sugars" being added to your foods under different names. Manufacturers use sugar in a variety of forms in their products. It's important to learn to recognize them in the ingredient list. These are sugars and syrups which are added to foods or beverages during processing. They don't include naturally occurring sugars such as those found in milk and whole fruits. Foods that contain most of the added sugars in American diets are grain-based desserts (e.g. cookies, snack cakes, etc.), dairy desserts (e.g. ice cream and popsicles) and ready-to-eat cereals.