Patrick Di Justo, author of “This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth” took to reddit last week to answer readers’ questions about the very same topic.
Di Justo wrote a column in everyone’s favorite science publication, Wired magazine, where he broke down the ingredients in common household products, explaining just what those unpronounceable ingredients really are, why they are used, and just where they come from.
“All my research is dedicated to pointing out what is in the food you eat and the products you use. I almost never make value judgments about these ingredients — the idea is that you now have all this information, you make your own decisions,” explained Di Justo to one reader. “I think the only thing I’ve ever told people to stay away from was heroin, because heroin is pure evil in powdered form. And high fructose corn syrup, which is not as immediately evil as heroin, but still bad for you.”
When Wired magazine got its own show on PBS, called Wired Science, host Chris Hardwick presented Di Justo’s articles as a special segment of the show. The very first food he broke down? Cool Whip.
Before you dollop this unassuming, fluffy, sweet treat on your fruit salad, let’s find out exactly what’s in it:
First off, it’s bleeding you dry: water is Cool Whip’s main ingredient, since air can’t really be put on an ingredient list. Water and air make up forty-one cents per ounce, just over twice what it would cost to whip real cream yourself. (more…)
How would you feel about giving up food? Not for a fast, not for a cleanse, but giving up food completely and instead consuming pure nutrients in a daily “smoothie.”
That’s the idea Rob Rhinehart and his team stumbled upon when they were working on a technology startup at the end of 2012. Funds had run low, and they realized food costs were draining what little funds they had left.
He added he tried cheap food options, but they weren’t what he needed. So he decided to approach food like he would any other engineering problem.
“You need amino acids and lipids, not milk itself,” he said in an interview with the New Yorker. “You need carbohydrates, not bread. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, but they’re mostly water.”
“It just seemed like a system that’s too complex and too expensive and too fragile.”
It’s time for our weekly “Everything You Eat Will Somehow Kill You” blog post. We all know the health consequences of eating fast food and oversized restaurant portions, and just last week we learned that many seemingly harmless grocery store products secretly contain trans fat. Personally, I’ve been avoiding all risk by subsisting on small berries and nuts I gather through urban foraging, and when I want to treat myself to an actual meal, I haven’t dared venture out of my chemical-free kitchen. But my extreme measures may be all for naught, as the FDA has revealed that cooking food at home—even the most organic of natural grains and vegetables—could kill us all.
Pardon my apocalyptic tone, but it’s true. Acrylamide—a chemical that naturally forms in foods prepared at high temperatures—is a carcinogen that can cause severe nerve damage in high doses. A scary fact when you consider the stuff “is found in 40 percent of the calories consumed in the average American diet,” according to the FDA in a release posted today.
Side note: acrylamide is also used as an industrial chemical in waste water treatment. Yum. (more…)
It’s easily arguable that many families have a box of macaroni and cheese mix in their cabinets right now. It’s basically a staple in most homes, especially those with children. Many of us grew up with mac and cheese, and not just any brand, but specifically the blue box, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Today the brand is just as popular, but those who read labels have discovered that this food contains some of the most family unfriendly ingredients and they want it changed.
Vani Hari runs the website Food Babe and Lisa Leake is the voice behind the blog 100 Days of Real Food. Together these two women have made some noise as they have brought the ingredients of Kraft’s mac and cheese to light. The American version of this boxed food contains artificial food dyes, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. Hari and Leake are out to change this.
The two women have created an online petition to the Kraft company asking people to understand the dangers of the dyes and then sign the petition to get them removed. The information around the petition states that the mac and cheese in the UK does not contain the dyes. They were removed when the public cried out. Curious why they were left in the American product? Hari and Leake are too. (more…)
Many people in the United States are being exposed to a chemical called phthalates, which is found in every day things like perfumes, scented lotions, industrial paints, solvents, packaging, scented candles and almost anything else containing fragrance.
In Environmental Health Perspective’s recent study on diabetes and phthalates, they attempted to see if there was something connecting the two. The study was only done on women since the phthalates levels seem to be higher in them than men. The National Health and Nutrition Examination surveyed about 2,350 women. Each woman gave urine samples for chemical testing (questions on diabetes status and phthalates levels were not gathered at the same time which makes the study cross-sectional).
What the examination revealed was that per 1,000 women, there were 40 extra diabetes cases in the women who contained higher phthalates levels compared to those with lower levels. That means the risk of diabetes is twice as high in women who contain higher phthalates levels. Something to consider is that people who have diabetes might have higher phthalates levels because of the particular medications and medical devices that are used to actually treat the disease. Phthalates chemicals are found in many of these products as well. This study did not rule out this detail. (more…)