As I have told you I am taking a very interesting course right now called Eating Industrial. For the class I am to write an email to someone in my life who I would like to inform about the book, Pandora’s Lunchbox, for a project of ours. This is why I am writing to you. The book explores the greater engineered, less health-conscious American food system of today. I would recommend this to you as someone interested in nutrition and chemistry. Yes, I said chemistry, this is because there is reported to be more than five thousand additives put into processed foods today (105). The public is often frightened by their long names like disodium phosphate. Although you and I both know that these names are simple explanations of their molecular makeups. The same could be applied to the chemical components of vegetables as food scientist, Fergus Clydesdale made reference to (115). Yet, some additives could be harmful to human health given the lax governing of the FDA. It is appalling to find out that the FDA allows food companies to deny the use of a formal petition for registering a new food additive. They may simply internally deem an additive to be what is known as Generally Recognized As Safe and avoid government regulation almost all together. Additionally, we watched a documentary in class called Food Inc., in which it was stated that food safety checks by the government have decreased from more than 50,000 in 1972 to 9,176 in the 2000’s. Doesn’t it seem as though as we advance in food science, the regulation should be stricter versus less strict? A troubling thought indeed. The author’s main point throughout the book was that much of the food we eat today is processed to look and taste like what we think it is. Except that it is not what we think it is and in many cases it is bad for us.
For example, there was entire chapter on the various uses of soybeans. Warner traveled around to different soy protein producers, learning about relatively new science. It came about over time, as soybeans were first used to prepare the soil for other crops, before the later discovery that they were high in protein. Later on, food scientists discovered that soy protein retains moisture much better than regular meats. This led to today’s practice of adding a significant amount of soy protein to a multitude of processed meats. I am sure that you are as shocked as I am to find out that a certain amount of meat we eat is not meat at all. Values greater than 30 percent total those of soy protein in most school lunch meat (152).
I am sure you would agree that it is important that we know the negative effects of processed foods and beverages. You made a step in the right direction, cutting down greatly on your soft drink consumption. This must have been a hard thing to do based on another reading I went over for class. In the article titled, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, the author talked about bliss point. This is reason we can’t stop coming back to drinks like Coke. It has an intermediate sweetness level that does not overwhelm the brain but satisfies the taste buds (6). In this way Coca-Cola can “start ‘em young” so to speak. This also gave reason for various comparisons of processed food and drink to the addictive nature of tobacco, to which industry big wigs cringed. I feel this is an accurate point to make and one that needs to continue if we want real change.
Also, I forgot to mention this to you, I thought of you when I was reading the chapter on vitamins. I know how you take multivitamins and believe strongly in their benefits. However, for vitamins to be most effective for disease prevention and overall health they must be consumed in addition to naturally occurring phytochemicals. What are phytochemicals? These are chemical compounds in plants that account for color and other characteristics.There was a study at Cornell not too long ago that found that only a very small amount of vitamin C’s antioxidant power can be utilized in synthetic vitamins . Phytochemicals in actual fruits and vegetables do the real work (89). I see you eat a fair amount of fruits and vegetables, so I wanted to let you know that you probably do not need to eat your synthetic vitamins. Also, did you know that a majority of synthetic vitamin D starts as Australian sheep’s wool?
While there is much to say about the broken system we live in today, the author provides a light at the end of the tunnel. In spending much time with you growing up and now living with you as a roommate, I notice that when we eat healthier we tend to more alert and in better moods. Warner showed this type of thing to be the case with a family she followed. They changed their diet drastically, trading fast food for home prepared meals. In just 10 days since the switch a lot changed for the Struckmeier’s. The father, Shawn, saw his usual heartburn go away and he lost eighteen pounds. The youngest daughter, Emma, was relieved of her persistent constipation. Cameron the eldest son, began to act calm (while growing up he was thought to have behavioral and cognitive problems). Finally, Darcy, the mother and spearhead of the family movement, noticed a boost in her energy levels (212). I thought this was a very appropriate anecdote to wrap up the book with because it left aside all the medical reports and chemical talk. It simply presented an average American family which saw immediate positive impact from altering their diet for the better. It motivated me to keep up the healthy habits I have formed and I truly hope it will do the same for you! All the best Carlos.