As a student of life (and seasoned marketing professional), I’m continually on the lookout (and constantly intrigued by) demonstrations of human beings in the act of living. A favorite arena for human behavioral encounters is my weekly grocery shopping expedition. I’m especially captivated by the latest “natural” or “organic” indoctrination. Many stores – particularly major chains – in the hopes of not being “left behind” have now moved, expanded, and identified their “organic” produce so it prominently besieges (or encircles) you as you cross into the store’s oasis. Oftentimes, the “organic-ness” of it all scares me a bit. I wonder what might happen if the item’s “organic” nature (especially potatoes with their tentacles) becomes anatomically inclined and reaches out to grab or hug me as I attempt to enter and wander past…
I observe many folks in the throes of this “organic” movement, “blindly” grabbing items off shelves and placing them in their carts – no squeezing, no smelling, no label-reading, no identifying country of origin – nothing that would suggest they’ve imbibed in the aroma of fresh “organically-cured” (that’s still manure, right?) “straight from the farm” wafting through their air passages.
Mind you, I’m not anti-organic…but, sometimes I wonder if our obsessions are woefully misplaced or misaligned…and that other aspects or elements of our “food” – besides, of course, the “gluten-free” and/or “non-GMO” obsessions – need our attention.
For example, as I continued my grocery shopping journey, I approached the beverage aisle – teas, coffees, etc. A woman I recognized from the produce section, who earlier had filled her cart with “organic” items, is standing mid-aisle. As she clings to a box of Gingerbread Spice tea, she appears baffled as she continues to stare into the “magical” world of teas. I maneuver around her and grab my box of basic tea from the shelf – “Tough choice, eh”? I murmur. “There are so many to choose from,” she bellows.“ “I’m not sure how to decide,” she continues.
Her utterances to me, of course, were interpreted as solicitations for input and comment. So, I dove in.
“I noticed earlier you were hand-selecting “organic” produce. If that’s important to you, you might want to take a minute to read the labels on the tea boxes that interest you so you are sure to select ones that align with what you already appear to value and believe is best for you and others who might be in your household,” I shared. “For example, let’s take a look at the label on the item in your hand,” I suggest.
As we browse the ingredients list together, we agree that many of the items listed seem reasonable, are innocent enough, and are enjoyable – cinnamon, roasted chicory, and so on. Then, together, our eyes descend upon the words “natural flavors (soy lecithin).”
“I’ve heard of and think I know what “soy” is…but, what is “soy lecithin”? she inquires.
“I’m not a nutritionist or dietary expert, however, I stay away from soy and I especially avoid items I can’t pronounce and that don’t appear to align with or seem “natural” to the product I’m considering. I ask myself why it would be necessary to add anything to a basic product like “tea” – especially “soy” and/or “soy lecithin” – which by the way is not necessarily “natural” and is the “sludge” that results from stripping down or processing soy beans. It is used in many food “products” as an “emulsifier,” I note. Of course, I hand her my business card…and suggest she consider looking at a few of my recent blogs where I share some thoughts (along with links) about food and food “products.”
As with many of us, I learned about this (and other) suspicious products many years ago after being riddled with severe digestive and stomach discomfort which, prior to being diagnosed, stuck with me for close to six years. As someone who eats relatively well – concentrating on items “low on the food chain” – veggies, grains, etc. – and taking care to review labels on necessary processed and packaged food products, these health issues and my inability to resolve them were perplexing. Early on (before these health issues began), I learned that I was “lactose intolerant,” so, I’d replaced cow-based milk with soy milk.
Initially, the switch was tolerable and comfortable. Then, 3-4 months into drinking soy milk, my troubles began. I researched, probed and attempted to sort out and identify why I was feeling so badly and what might be the culprit (yikes…it took close to six years to figure out). Finally, a local holistic doctor confirmed what my research had revealed – soy and soy-based products might be the cause. While my switch to soy milk seemed innocent enough…the unsuspecting bombardment of soy in a variety of forms (soy lecithin, etc.) in an outlandish number of other food “products” (tea, no less?!) within my diet seemed to be the culprit. As was explained to me…
“Somehow, you’ve acquired a stomach microorganism. Soy – in all its many hidden and un-hidden forms – has been feeding and nurturing that microorganism…keeping it alive and encouraging it to grow.”
So, one has to wonder WHY food additives, food enhancers, etc. are necessary? Do they enhance our health or add “value” to our well-being? Is it possible that our bodies might be better equipped and function more productively (and positively) if we were to consume basic “real” food – produce, grains, etc. – rather than items “acting” or presenting an image that they are “food” rather than “products” made by manufacturers? I also often wonder why humans must undergo such challenges – reading labels, identifying ingredients, etc. – to determine what’s in these food “products” and to simply arrive at what’s needed for each of us to sustain, grow and function in a positive, fulfilling and productive way? From what I’ve learned, all ingredients – particularly those used in the manufacturing process – are oftentimes not included on the ingredients list. This path of thinking also inspires me to ask “might the cause of many of our health issues – obesity, cancer, heart and digestive problems – result from our consumption of man-made “products” rather than humanly grown “food”?
As I continue to absorb and process this information, my interest drifts to the corporations – essentially manufacturers – that actually make and distribute these “products” positioned as “food” items. Are they aware of and do they understand the potential effect and impact of their “products” and additives, fillers, etc.? If they do know, do they care…or is it simply a matter of generating cash and profit. To be continued next week…
Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2014 EM Carlock
Graphic credits: www.rodalenews.com and http://www.jantoo.com