What is this doing in my food?


Evaluating healthy food to eat- what is this doing in my food?

I finally cleaned out my hall closet and gave away/tossed away half the stuff. I have no need for a mop that won’t pick up water, running shoes that will never be anything but a size too small, and a single mitten whose mate I called off the search two years ago. Even though I open this cupboard daily, I never notice most of this stuff as I have gotten so used to seeing them.  And if I ever did catch a glimpse of the mop, I had convinced myself I might someday find a need for it.

I’m starting to feel similarly about a lot of ingredients/additives in our food. When we think about “additives” we usually think about things like MSG, corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives etc, but many of the ones that I’m now more aware of are found in high quality food sold in Whole Foods, or health food stores. Even in “good for you food” there is simply a lot of “stuff” that gets shoved into the corners that we either don’t notice or if we do notice, think we need.  And sometimes we DO need them, but that’s often because the food is lacking, and these additives are there to make up for it.

Here are some of the ones I’ve been noticing:

Natural Flavors: If a tin of soup lists, “natural flavors”, it is because the ingredients themselves do not taste enough like the kind of soup the label says it is. It’s also hard to keep a soup shelf-stable without added “flavors”.  But at the end of the day, it’s the “flavor” of broccoli they’ve added to the broccoli soup, when you see “natural flavors”.

Thickeners: Pectin is the one I see most often in yogurt.  To get the kind of consistency you’d expect from yogurt you do NOT need pectin!  You simply need high quality ingredients and a brand that is not trying to stuff their packaging with low cost thickeners  to keep the cost down and keep the yogurt from separating. (Which yogurt does!)

Sweeteners: Sure, we all know there is too much sugar in too many foods, and because of this, many brands are now changing the way they “name” the sugar.  If you see any of these in an ingredient list: rice syrup, malt syrup, concentrated apple juice etc … they are sugars – they may sound healthier than “cane sugar” but arguably they are not and they are just as sweet.

Salt: I LOVE salt!  But every once in a while I will eat a food and be amazed and how much unnecessary salt they’ve added.  I found this most recently with a brand of rice crackers – they were inedible.

So for me, I’m not going to be doing any radical spring “cleaning” of my diet, I’m simply going to get back to eating food I make from scratch and when I do buy prepared foods, keep an eye out for the list above.

What are you doing to clear out the “old mops” from your diet this spring?


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