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Skwigg Blog
Saturday, 27 March 2010
Chemical Cuisine and "Healthy" Fast Food

I'm on a label reading bender. It started at the grocery store when I was looking for some cake to go with my organic strawberries. I didn't recognize anything as food on the packaged shortcake label so I headed for the bakery section. That is where I discovered sodium laurel sulfate in the "freshly baked" angel food cake. Isn't that shampoo??

Shortly after the shampoo cake incident, I saw my Diet Mountain Dew in the sun. Don't ever look at that stuff in the sun. The blinding otherworldly glow will have you seeing green spots for days. In a flash of fluorescent green haze I decided to become a tea drinker. I started off with Arizona and Lipton Diet Green Teas but they still have enough artificial colors and sweeteners to petrify a lab rat, also they made my ears ring like alarm clocks (Aspirin sensitivity? Yellow #5? I don't know). So, now I've weaned myself onto plain unsweetened tea. 

I did this once before and was a happy, highly caffeinated tea drinker for months. Then I took a sip of Pepsi Max, the bubbles and chemicals set off my brain fireworks and I relapsed like a total crackhead. Blog readers caught me in the grocery store parking lot loading cases of the stuff into the dog mobile. "Hey, aren't you Skwigg? Don't you drink tea now?" :-D

Anyway, I'm trying to reduce my food additive consumption. Even though I'm big into plant-eating, I still enjoy things like cookies, crackers, chips, and cereal so I've been buying those in the health food section of the grocery store. Now, are organic potato chips and sandwich cookies health food? No, but I like that I can say all the ingredients and I don't have to look them up on Chem Cuisine.

How about you? Are you a label reader? And do you look at the ingredients or is it all about the nutrition stats? Here's a good Tom Venuto article on "Healthy" Fast Food. I've been avoiding that lately too. It's hard to find good fast food as a veganish eater. Most if it is loaded with chickens and chemicals, Chipotle being a delicious exception.


Posted by skwigg at 11:49 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, 27 March 2010 11:53 AM CDT

Saturday, 27 March 2010 - 1:57 PM CDT

Name: "Emoore81"

I am a label reader.  I don't particularly do anything about the information on the labels, but I do read them.  And I've discovered that my dogs' all-natural grain-free kibble has only ingredients I can pronounce that are found in nature. . . and my Lean Cuisines do not.  My dogs definitely eat healthier than I do.  

Saturday, 27 March 2010 - 2:10 PM CDT

Name: skwigg
Home Page: http://skwigg.tripod.com

OMG, I noticed that too. Ripley's dog food is like: turkey, chicken, sweet potato, flaxseed, carrots, parsley, kale, broccoli, spinach, apples, blueberries... 

I'm not going to look at a Cadbury Egg label. 

Saturday, 27 March 2010 - 2:55 PM CDT

Name: "featherz"

My favorite new frankenfood is quorn. :) Don't read the label on that one! But OMG for fake chicken I had to check the package to make sure it wasn't really chicken. That's fungus and chemicals in action!

 

Saturday, 27 March 2010 - 3:14 PM CDT

Name: "Jjingle"

Thanks for the post. It's the kick in the pants that I need to give up the diet soda and stick with the unsweet tea. Sometimes, all we need is a little reminder to push us past our goal line.

Saturday, 27 March 2010 - 4:51 PM CDT

Name: "rumbletum"

I've been a Pepsi Max addict for 10+ years now, I've managed to give it up for a few months on a couple of occasions now, but all it has took was one sip, then I've been back addicted again.  I'm currently cutting back my daily consumption and am planning to go totally Pepsi free later this week.

 If I struggle with something like Pepsi Max, god knows how I'd cope if I was a smoker, drug addict etc

Saturday, 27 March 2010 - 9:19 PM CDT

Name: "Clara"
Home Page: http://yearinthedilemma.typepad.com/

I read through Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food", then hit his other two books. I'm actually going to see if one can achieve a six pack body following food rules for a year. :) 

My personal favorite is going through labels and seeing how many products contain soy. I was at a client's house doing a food audit. 75% of the food contained soy. 

Saturday, 27 March 2010 - 9:21 PM CDT

Name: "Clara"
Home Page: http://yearinthedilemma.typepad.com

Hi, my name is Clara and I am a Pepsi Max addict. And I refuse to kick the habit just yet. :) 

If the worst thing I keep in my diet is the Pepsi Max, I'll call it good. :)

Saturday, 27 March 2010 - 9:48 PM CDT

Name: "Missy"

I am definitely a label reader - especially since Splenda is toxic to my system. I used to eat those Blue Bunny fudgesicle bars and Philly swirls (10 calories each). One day I ate 3 because they were so good and my head/ears started ringing and pounding (like the slow drill at the dentist) and then it progressed into seizure like activity, passing out, and panic attacks. I finally figured out Splenda did it to me (I tested it) and I have stayed away from it and most artificial sweeteners for the most part.  To my plain Chobani greek yogurt, I add my own stevia/truvia and vanilla flavoring. I gave up diet coke even though I was an addict. Even though aspartame never did anything obvious to me, after my splenda incident, I gave it up too. I prefer one ingredient foods (cantaloupe, apple, butternut squash, eggs, etc.) and if I eat processed foods, I like Kashi cereal or others that have no sodium laurel sulfate!!

Sunday, 28 March 2010 - 4:18 AM CDT

Name: "Sara"
Home Page: http://sanafit.blogspot.com

I'd say you are allergic, or at least highly sensitive to, salicylic acid.  Ringing ears is a very well-known indication of it, and of course it's in aspirin.

Sunday, 28 March 2010 - 4:23 AM CDT

Name: "Sara"
Home Page: http://sanafit.blogspot.com

Ooo, just had a thought.  Check your fake tan for salicylic acid. Didn't you react to it?  Some manufacturers put it in their tanning products for some reason.

Sunday, 28 March 2010 - 5:15 AM CDT

Name: "Successfully Slim"
Home Page: http://www.successfullyslim.com

Whoa, that shampoo-in-cake business is scary!!

I am definitely a label reader, and the more I read the more I know I need to read them!

I was after some fish the other day and had to toss up between frozen crumbed fillets and frozen fish fingers (there was no fresh fish to be had). Amazingly the fish fingers had more fish in them - 51% compared to 49% in the fillets. How can they call that fish??

Sunday, 28 March 2010 - 8:28 AM CDT

Name: skwigg
Home Page: http://skwigg.tripod.com

Missy, I had to ditch the yellow Splenda box too. Small quantities don't seem to do anything but in large quantities I get a crazy itchy blistery rash on my hands and forearms... of all the weird reactions. Took me forever to connect it to the Splenda, but if you google "splenda rash" there are itchy people all over the place. Something about the chlorine.

Sara, I hear you on the sunless tanner. I used it for years with no problems and then became ultra-sensitive to every brand. I'm a pale face now. :-)

Sunday, 28 March 2010 - 9:49 AM CDT

Name: "emi s."

Clara, it's so true that the majority of processed foods have some sort of soy derivative (soy lethicin, soybean oil, etc.). And if they don't, they have a corn product.

Since Passover (starting this week) means no corn or soy (among the many restrictrictions) it means basically no processed food for 8 days.  I don't eat that much processed food anyway, but it aways suprises me  what sort of slips under the radar during the year, that I notice during passover.

Sunday, 28 March 2010 - 10:25 AM CDT

Name: "Liza"

Now I don't feel like such a weirdo. I stopped drinking Diet Coke for the longest time, then I thought I could handle a soda and now I jones for it!  I drink it out of the 2 L bottle if it's in the fridge every 10 minutes - even when I know I'm thirsty and my poor body is asking for water!

I am a compulsive label reader but I shake my head at the fact that if I won't eat it, I'll still allow my family to.  I did find a vegan choc chip cookie recipe and a brownie recipe with ingredients that everyone recognizes and my kid has been eating those - which makes me feel much better.  

I don't know why I thought baking takes so much time.  If the recipe has simple enough ingredients, it's actually pretty fast.  I think the long part is the waiting for it to come out of the oven.  Baking your own sweets feels so much better than shampoo cake.  :-D  So funny that you would even know that!

Sunday, 28 March 2010 - 1:31 PM CDT

Name: "anonymous"

You could take up baking.  That would be MONTHS of entertaining blog-fodder! oh, and chem free goodies

Sunday, 28 March 2010 - 2:11 PM CDT

Name: "anon"

You have some incredible blog entries!  Why isn't there a search option so people can search for a fitness programs and whatnot and see your review/comments?

Am I missing the search function somewhere?

Monday, 29 March 2010 - 1:50 AM CDT

Name: "Mary"

I love your description of the diet cola addiction.  It's like crack to me, too, even (especially?) when I've given it up for months.  I swear there's something highly addictive in it.  I wish Diet Pepsi was Mt. Dew colored, because it really is alarmingly odd!  Doesn't Mt. Dew also have an odd ingredient like vegetable oil or something?

I'm not so much an ingredient snob.  I figure most of that stuff we don't recognize is some amazing, natural preservative with a technical name.  I'm fine with FDA approved preservatives in restaurant chicken.  Beats rot!   I think even our grocery store chicken ("unprocessed" packages from the freezer or meat cases) has added broths and stabilizers and preservatives and such.  That's just the way they do chicken now, unless you can afford the free range stuff or have a coop yourself.

I don't eat much fast food at all, but I'm happy to find the new Taco Bell shrimp tacos.  Edible and 170ish calories.  Drive-thru fare isn't 'good food', but it's our normal daily diet that makes us, not the exceptions.   

Monday, 29 March 2010 - 8:44 AM CDT

Name: "Dave Currie"
Home Page: http://www.kettlebelling.co.uk

Here in the UK, and soon to be in the States I understand, Tesco is the biggest supermarket. I once read the label on a packet of Tesco Mint Imperials, which are, as you might imagine, small mint sweets. Minty and sugary and usually a nice treat. Pork. There was pork gelatine in the mints. Now I don't actually mind eating pork, but not in sweets. I mean, pork, really?

Monday, 29 March 2010 - 9:00 AM CDT

Name: "Kelly Stanley"

 Hey Skwigg,

 I know where you are coming from, but I suffer from an addiction to Diet Coke (currently reformed, until the next big sale at the grocery store)  I tend not read labels because I try not to buy anything in a box or wrapper, but if I do go on a bender (usually peanut butter and nutella sandwiches, yum) I really don't want to know, it would only increase the guilt, which is only momentary.  You know what they say, ignorance is bliss.

Monday, 29 March 2010 - 9:32 AM CDT

Name: "Christne"

I do read labels but I swing back and forth about what TO DO with the information...sometimes I swing towards only healthy, organic, all-natural, etc., other times I just say "screw it" and buy what I want at the store. The main reason I end up saying "screw it" is because crazy as this sounds, it can be easier for me to watch my weight eating fake foods then real foods. Maybe I've been reading too much hungry girl, maybe it's just the years of eating all that stuff makes it too hard to fight the cravings on some days!

I did give up Lean Cuisines...I ate one a day for lunch every day for 5 years+ and finally gave them up this year.

Monday, 29 March 2010 - 1:08 PM CDT

Name: "Sherri"

I, too, have been on a label reading kick!  I recently decided to try to cut out HFCS, MSG & Trans Fats after my sister informed me of all the nasty things MSG can do to you.  It is crazy how much "stuff" is in prepackaged food.  As a working mom to a todler, sometimes I need to rely on some prepackage food and it is hard to find anything without loads of crap in it. 

I used to buy Lean Cuisine, but I have been getting the Healthy Choice "Cafe Steamers" instead.  I can pronounce most of the ingredients and they don't give me heartburn like Lean Cuisine does.  (and they taste better, too!)

Veggie Straws are good too!  They are crunchy, yummy, bits of goodness and no "stuff".

Monday, 29 March 2010 - 2:37 PM CDT

Name: skwigg
Home Page: http://skwigg.tripod.com

I just started reading The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick - And What We Can Do About It by Robyn O'Brien. It's about food additives and how they contribute to food allergies and sensitivities. It's really written for parents but I'm enjoying it so far. I eat like a 4-year old most of the time anyway. Apparently, there's something wrong with the orange stuff in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (say it isn't so!) but I haven't read that far yet.

Monday, 29 March 2010 - 3:03 PM CDT

Name: "Julie"
Home Page: http://greenteagrl.wordpress.com

I read somewhere recently that Kraft puts yellow#5 in the mac + cheese they sell in the US but some other countries don't allow it so yellow #5 is not in their Kraft mac + cheese.  My kids eat Annie's Organic anyway, but still I'm sure a TON of kids consume Kraft!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010 - 7:33 PM CDT

Name: "Jennifer"

You should try Republic of Tea.  I highly recommend Blackberry Sage, Ginger Peach and Blood Orange Pomegranite.  Throw about 5-6 tea bags in a pot of water, steep and make a pitcher, then fill up your portable water.  Fruity, caffeinated bliss.

 

 

Tuesday, 30 March 2010 - 7:42 PM CDT

Name: "thehungryartist"
Home Page: http://www.thehungryartist.wordpress.com

I recently started really reading every label when I discovered I have a sorbitol intolerance.  It was horrible because I was addicted to Extra gum!!  Once we figured out what the problem was, I eliminated that, and I was fine.  But there are a lot of things that have sorbitol or something similar to it in processed foods -- especially "low carb" foods. I think I may also have a slight intolerance to maltodextrin, which is corn based, but is in SO many things -- even some Trader Joe's products, which tend to be less chemical heavy.  it's a drag, but probably a blessing in disguise, because I'm probably better off eating mainly whole foods!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010 - 8:28 PM CDT

Name: "Marsha"

...and now I'm hungry for Nutella!  LOL

Quorn is tasty stuff.  But if you haven't had it before, go easy; it gives some people gastric upset.  I swear it tastes exactly like chicken.

Are you watching the Jamie Oliver "Food Revolution" program?  I watched on Friday.  I can't believe he stuck with it after the schools giving him such a hard time.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010 - 8:41 PM CDT

Name: skwigg
Home Page: http://skwigg.tripod.com

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is awesome! Friday nights on ABC for anybody who's not watching yet. It might be on Hulu or ABC.com. Those lunch ladies were so scary! And when none of the kids could identify a single vegetable, OMG. And when he cooked up that family's entire week of deep fried, battered, processed groceries. Every food on the table was brown and dripping some kind of grease! What a fun show. He definitely has his work cut out for him. I'm expecting him to be run out of town at any moment.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010 - 8:47 AM CDT

Name: "Jessica"
Home Page: http://jessicasbento.wordpress.com

*sigh* it is hard to find quick snacks/fast food as a veganish eater, I agree. I'm kind of giving up. I'm trying to get in the habit of bringing snacks with me, but its hard to find anything quicker and easier than dried fruit and soaked nuts. I think it is more a matter of changing habits - once I get in the habit of making things and having them available, then when I open my cupboard and want something NOW Ill have a good alternative to processed 'health' foods...

Wednesday, 31 March 2010 - 9:27 AM CDT

Name: "Carrie"

My mom  works for a school cafeteria.  I am shocked at what they feed the kids.  It hasn't changed much since I went to school (18 years ago).  It is upsetting to think I will be sending my kids to school with a lunch that has so much white bread and processed meat in it.  

If you don't mind me asking....are you still maintaining your weight?  I decided a couple of months ago to follow the  nutrition advice of a  fitness program I have been following and it totally failed for me.  Eating 5 times a day, protein at every meal and counting calories, I should know better.  This program just promised that it was "the way".  I ended up gaining 5 pounds!  Just curious to know how you have been doing.  

Wednesday, 31 March 2010 - 10:17 AM CDT

Name: skwigg
Home Page: http://skwigg.tripod.com

If by maintaining my weight you mean losing 12 pounds, yes, that totally happened. :-) I was always in the vicinity of 140 when I was geeked out about bodybuilding, chicken and whey protein. Now that I'm a veganish eater, I've been hanging around 128. So much for my fat vegetarian theories. I think the key has been to eat mostly plants as opposed to mostly pasta.

Thursday, 1 April 2010 - 1:01 PM CDT

Name: "featherz"

I've been doing a vegetarian lifestyle for a few months now and have lost 5# - probably could lose more if I didn't keep putting protein powder in my oatmeal (gemma pea protein with stevia - chocolate banana) - I don't do it for the protein, per se, but it really thickens up the oat bran and makes it yummy so can't help it. :P 

Those looking for quick veganish snacks - I've gotten hooked on primal strips seitan jerky. I'd swear it was meat! 

I've already mentioned Quorn. Don't google it, tho. :)  I really don't know how they do that and no GI distress here, thankfully. I keep waiting to break out in hives! (Quorn has egg whites, but I still eat eggs on occasion). 

Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 1:29 PM CDT

Name: "Mary"

I'm disappointed in Jamie Oliver's show.  He acts like anything hand-processed is better than anything they use now.  But now there are strict nutritional guidelines, cost constraints, time constraints and appeal constraints.  Adding 'home (school kitchen) made' food doesn't really improve anything.  If he'd come up with a healthier school menu within ALL the constraints, that'd be great but he's not.  He's just introducing more hand-processed food so far.  Or the appearance of more whole foods.  I'm not sure flour tortillas and dry pasta are any big improvement over anything he's been decrying as evil, like baked french fries and pizza crust.   

When I was in elem. school I threw out my whole school lunch every day because it was 'healthy' stuff that was unappealing.  By high school, it was soyburgers and pizza but I ate it and loved it and it wasn't fat-filled or particularly unhealthy.  It met the nutr. guidelines, the cost & time constraints and it appealed to us so it got eaten.  Win/win.  

The problem in that county is they're dirt poor, not the school fries.   The show's painting a misleading picture.   I'd like to continue to watch to see if that one kid can overcome it (Justin?) but I'm not sure I can.  I do think his idea about educating them how to cook is a good idea.  

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