Tuesday, June 22, 2010
THE RISE OF FAKE FOOD AND MISINFORMATION
What do candles, soap and buttermilk biscuits have in common? Industrial waste products.
It all started back in 1837 when William Proctor and his brother-in-law James Gamble combined their candle and soap making businesses to make it easier to obtain the beef tallow and lard necessary for their products. Tallow and lard were hard to come by because of fierce competition and price fixing. Irritated at having to pay high prices for their raw ingredients, which cut into their profit margin, Proctor and Gamble began to search for an alternative to tallow and lard. The boys invested in cottonseed mills. Before cotton can be incorporated into a T-shirt or Q-tip, the seeds are removed and discarded as industrial waste. Proctor and Gamble discovered that oil could be extracted from these seeds. Unfortunately, the oil was unstable and not very useful for their products, but, in 1907, with the help of the German chemist E.C. Kayser, Proctor and Gamble developed the science of hydrogenation. They took the cottonseed oil and added hydrogen molecules combined with extreme heat and pressure creating a solid, stable form of cottonseed oil which happened to look a lot like lard.
This new product worked fairly well for soap and candles, but the candle business was dwindling due to the invention of electricity. Candles were used for light back in those days, not for fragrance or decoration, so Proctor and Gamble had to find some other use for all the solid cottonseed oil they were producing. The conversation went something like this, “Well, it looks like lard and acts like lard. Say, why don’t we stick it in a can and call it a food?!” So they stuck the stuff in a can, called it Crisco, short for “crystallized cottonseed oil,” and put it on the market in 1911 as an alternative to lard.
But how do you convince housewives that an industrial waste product is safe to eat?
Proctor and Gamble launched the most ingenious advertising campaign ever. First, they wiped out the competition, lard and butter, with the statement “more economical than butter and healthier than animal fats.” The boys didn’t bother to do any studies comparing the health benefits of Crisco to animal fats; they just said what they needed to say to sell their product. Second, they published a cookbook with 615 recipes all calling for Crisco. The cookbook taught housewives how to use this new fangled fat and appealed to their sense of pride with pictures of young women teaching their mothers and grandmothers to use Crisco instead of animal fats. Crisco was advertised in the cookbook as cleaner than and more easily digestible than animal fats and children growing up on Crisco would be well behaved and intelligent. Crisco was the choice for any enlightened, modern mother who cared about the cleanliness of her home, her standing in the community and the behavior and health of her children. Jewish housewives embraced Crisco with open arms because it behaved like butter but could be eaten with meat and was marketed as such. Another assumed benefit
of Crisco was its 2 year shelf life which ensured that consumers would be able to use the entire can before it went bad. Crisco became a household staple and the first truly fake food.
The formula was brilliant; take an industrial waste product, put it in a can, and market it as a health food.
Crisco became the first in a long line of fake foods that have replaced real food in the American diet. Following close on the heels of Crisco is soy lecithin, the industrial waste product of soybean oil. Lecithin, or phosphatidylcholine, is a component of all cell membranes allowing both water soluble and fat soluble substances to pass through. Oil and water don’t mix, but if you add an egg yolk, they can be combined. Lecithin is just like the egg yolk. Without it, water soluble substances such as vitamin C would not be able to enter cells. Egg yolk happens to be one of the best sources of lecithin in the diet. You may remember that lecithin was a very popular health supplement in the 1970s.
Soy lecithin is the sludge left over from the processing of soybean oil. Kaayla T. Daniel describes this sludge in her book, The Whole Soy Story, as follows. “It is a waste product containing residues of solvents and pesticides and has a consistency ranging from a gummy fluid to a plastic solid. The color of lecithin ranges from a dirty tan to reddish brown. Manufacturers therefore subject lecithin to a bleaching process to turn it into a more appealing light yellow hue. The hexane extraction process commonly used in soybean oil manufacture today yields less lecithin than the older ethanol-benzol process, but produces a more marketable lecithin with better color, reduced odor and less bitter flavor.” Soybean oil is the most common vegetable oil used today and manufacturers need a cheap way to get rid of the industrial waste left behind. In the 1930’s, manufacturers hired scientists to invent ways to use the sludge left over from soybean oil. The scientists discovered over 1000 uses for this industrial waste product and that is why you will see soy lecithin in just about everything from food to cosmetics. Another industrial waste product that ended up in our food supply is fluoride. Hydrofluorosilicic acid is the industrial waste product from the manufacturing of phosphate fertilizers and aluminum and is considered hazardous. It is barreled up and sold across America to communities who add it to their water supply to “prevent tooth decay.” Before it was put into our water supply, it was blown out of smokestacks and dumped in rivers resulting in dead fish and deformed cows. But claiming a health advantage (fewer cavities) gave manufacturers a way to make money “dumping” their waste. Normally, manufacturers have to pay to get rid of industrial waste. They hit the jackpot.
Even if you live in a community that does not fluoridate the water, you may get more fluoride than you need from processed food. Chicken nuggets, tea, soda, cereal, juice and infant formula are just some of the processed foods made with fluoridated water. Fluoride disrupts thyroid hormones leading to hypothyroidism, a condition that contributes to obesity. Over the past 100 years, we have turned industrial waste into food and created fake forms of real food. We have fake butter (margarine), fake whipped cream (Cool Whip), fake eggs (Egg Beaters), fake cheese (Velveeta) and fake bread (Wonder Bread). The only thing that’s a “wonder” about Wonder Bread is that it’s allowed to be called bread. All of these products have been advertised as healthy alternatives to the real thing even though they all leave out life giving nutrients. They are cheap, easy to make in mass quantities and provide a higher profit margin for food manufacturers. Eating is no longer about health and nourishment; it’s all about the bottom line.
Can you guess what this food product is?
WATER, CORN SYRUP, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (COCONUT AND PALM KERNEL OILS), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, LESS THAN 2% OF SODIUM CASEINATE (FROM MILK), NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, XANTHAN AND GUAR GUMS, POLYSORBATE 60, SORBITAN MONOSTEARATE, BETA CAROTENE (COLOR).
No, it’s not transmission fluid, but it is a knock off of a food containing heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract. That’s right, it’s Cool Whip; a food designed to replace whipped cream yet it doesn’t even contain cream.
How does fake food get promoted over real food?
Crisco turned out to contain harmful trans fats, but Proctor and Gamble didn’t know that when they marketed it as a replacement for lard. Food manufacturers realized that Crisco was cheaper to buy than butter or lard and it had the added benefit of extending the shelf life of any food made with it. From the food company perspective, Crisco and its cousin margarine were money makers so no one bothered to consider the health implications. After all, the number one concern of every business is the bottom line and most companies will do whatever it takes to stay in the black, including carrying out their own “scientific” studies designed to prove the health benefits of their fake foods.
In the 1950s, a theory popped up claiming that saturated fats were unhealthy. This was a godsend for the food industry because it provided a legitimate reason to use Crisco and margarine over lard and butter. Now the food companies could increase their bottom lines under the guise of improving the health of consumers.
The food manufacturers latched on to the anti-saturated fat theory and propelled it forward unaware of the fact that they were actually doing more harm than good.
To buy The Liberation Diet, right click here.