YHATC017 – Do You REALLY Know What That Is That You’re Eating?


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So a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I had gotten home from church.  I had gone to our favorite Chinese restaurant in town to pick up some Egg Foo Young or whatever…

I looked at a packet of soy sauce after my wife was about to get some, and I was a little confused, man.  There was no mention of soy in the ingredient list.  Like, how you gonna have soy sauce and soy ain’t one of the ingredients?  Like, it doesn’t say imitation soy or anything like that; it says soy sauce.  Isn’t soy supposed to be in soy sauce?

Now granted, the package does say “vegetable protein” which is likely to be acquired from soy, but really, that’s still not acceptable.  It still doesn’t explain why soy sauce can’t simply be sauce made from soy, rather than all of this derived, “little bit o’ this, little bit o’ that” stuff.

Soy sauce with “soy” not explicitly in the ingredients?  I gotta say “Nah, man.”

In this podcast, I’m going to challenge you to ask yourself the question of whether or not you really know what in the world it is that you’re eating.  There are some products out there that we’re using, on a daily basis in some cases, and we’re thinking that we’re eating something, while what we are eating in actuality couldn’t be further from what we’re thinking.

And this stuff that we’re eating is hurting us, man.  While our focus is simply on  the taste of what we’re eating and drinking, this stuff is actually harming our bodies, making us sick, sluggish and diseased.  By the end of this podcast, I really hope that you understand that we can no longer just settle for eating some product because somebody said it’s edible.  We gotta know what we’re consuming.  It’s a matter of life and death.

Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla Flavorings

So, if you’re a baker, or if you know how to make candied yams (sweet potatoes), you know what vanilla extract is, or you at least know what vanilla flavoring is.

My wife and I were listening to this podcast on NPR called America’s Test Kitchen, where folks talk about everything related to food and cooking.  I think the show is called Milk Street Radio now.  Anyway though, we were listening to the show on this particular Sunday afternoon and they were talking about Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Flavoring.  Some of what they were talking about I already understood, like the fact that Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Flavoring are totally different.

But do you know the difference in how they’re made?  Vanilla Extract, comes from vanilla beans that have been soaked in alcohol.  We’re talking real vanilla.  When you talk about vanilla, this is what we’re actually referring to.

Vanilla Flavoring, or Imitation Vanilla Flavoring, is another story, man.  Like, I figured it would be different, but man.  Check this out.

Vanilla Flavoring doesn’t come from vanilla anything.  There’s not a bit of vanilla in it.  What it is, though, is that the compound in vanilla that gives it the distinctive flavor, called vanillin, can be found in other, well, substances.  It can be extracted much more cheaply from these other substances than vanilla extract can be extracted from vanilla beans.  Voila, there you have it.

Now, I don’t know about you, but it’s weird to me to have vanilla when there ain’t real vanilla in it.  But wait until you hear what other substances are used to make the vanilla flavorings.

On the radio show, they mentioned that the vanillin compound can be acquired from pine needles.  You know, pine straw.  Yes, that means that the vanilla flavoring that you got could be called Pine Needle extract.  Think about that when you’re baking your next cake.

But that’s not it, man.  All of the following other substances can apparently be used to make the flavoring:  wood pulp, pine bark, coal tar, the castor glands from beavers, and hold on to your seats for this one…cow stuff.  Like, cow manure.

Now, I know that vanilla extract is expensive.  But I must say that I am not so bothered by the expense of it that I would knowingly opt for a cheap substitute made from cow stuff.  It’s the principle of the matter, man.  I personally don’t care how close the taste is.

We live in a society where we settle for cheap substitutes like this.  Why?  Because somewhere along the way, we’ve decided that taste matters.  Why get the original when you can get something cheaper that tastes like the original?  I’m skeptical though, because I am a firm believer that when you buy anything, and that includes food, you get what you pay for.  If you buy cheap, your body has to deal with cheap.  Like, why do we have to go get some random substance like pine needles to make something that’s naturally occurring?  Something about that seems not right to me.

To vanilla flavoring, I’ll just have to say “Nah, man.”

Trans Fats Still in Pastries and Cookies

You probably remember the time back in the early 2000s when a requirement was made to have trans fat amounts on nutritional facts labels.  Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated oils, were put in foods starting around the 1950s to make them last longer on the shelf.  Think pastries, French fries, margarine, crackers, and cookies, to name a few.

The FDA also has gone a step further and requires that manufacturers remove all trans fats from their products, being that they have been proven to clog the arteries and heart and cause heart attacks and strokes.  Once trans fat has laid down in your arteries, it is very hard to get rid of it.

But did you know that just because a food says it has no trans fat doesn’t mean that it has no trans fat?  Yeah, man.  FDA guidelines specified that if a “food” product contained less than 0.5 g of trans fat, the label can say 0 g.  And guess what, there are a lot of other guidelines for our foods that are similar.  Apparently, with the trans fat ban, this is supposed to change after 2018, even though companies can still request to use trans fats in their foods with approval from the FDA being required.

Thing is, man…trans fats are detrimental in small amounts.  And what’s more, the kinds of foods that contain them – fries, doughnuts, cookies – they’re never going to be healthy.  Even if you take out the trans fat.  Even if you replace the corn syrup with sugar.  Packaged foods and fried fast foods are like “Nah, man.”  If you’re going to eat them, to be honest, make them yourself from real ingredients, and eat them sparingly even then.

Hot Dogs

Oh, hot dogs.  I really don’t have to say much of anything about this one.  I think we all know that hot dogs are one of the world’s true “mystery meats.”

Let me give you some interesting and perhaps disconcerting trivia.  Apparently, part of the reason that they’re called hot dogs is…well, you can guess.  Apparently, in Germany in the 20th century, dog meat was suspected to be used in these particular sausages because dog meat was acceptable over there back then.  So that’s at least a possible origin of the term, “hot dog.”  Don’t worry though; I’m not saying that our hot dogs have dog meat now.

So for one, hot dogs generally have sodium nitrite, a preservative that is generally understood to be carcinogenic.  But also, they apparently contain stuff such as mechanically separated meat, pink slime, and meat slurry.  So what in the world is all that stuff?

Well, since you asked, mechanically separated meat is stuff that’s pulled off of the carcass of whatever’s being used (pork, beef, poultry, etc.), that stuff including bone, bone marrow, skin, nerves, blood vessels, and meat scraps.  That stuff is made into a puree that is included in your hot dogs.  It’s not as much meat as it is various other tissues.

Pink slime, known as finely textured beef, is an additive that is created from fat that is removed from beef trimmings and treated with ammonia and/or citric acid to kill bacteria.  Then it’s included in your hot dogs.

Now, meat slurry does include more of meat, although it has some weird stuff done to it.  The dark meat portions of something like chicken, for example, are mixed with water, emulsified, and then the resulting liquefied meat is included in your hot dogs.

So yes, it’s true that some of everything goes into your hot dogs.  You know what I have to say to that.

“Nah, man.”

Now, there are some healthier alternatives out there that actually have meat and are healthier in other ways.  Keep in mind that the USDA says that hot dogs with these variety meats and by products only have to contain 15% meat.  That leaves room for almost whatever else you can think of, you know.

And to think that we think of cheap hot dogs as “kids’ food.”

Powdered Creamer

 So you wake up in the morning on a Monday morning, drag yourself out of bed, throw your clothes on and head to work.  You’re out of it, but you know that when you get to work, you can be revived by none other than your faithful ‘pick-me-up’, a cup of joe.

When you get to work, you pick up your mug, stained brown from 25 years of use.  You make your way to the coffee pot, pour in the hot brown liquid.  Even the sound of it starts picking you up and making you feel like the world is a better place, and that the day is going to be alright after all.

After you finish filling your cup, you reach in the nearby cupboard and pull out the non-dairy creamer.  You like your coffee thick, so you flip the top and start letting it flow…

“Nah, man.”

Like, what is that stuff?  What is that non-dairy creamer that you’ve been putting in your body for years?

So, first of all, there’s a key ingredient in them that replicates the texture of milk, which is what folks used to use moreso to cream their coffee.  Hint:  this ingredient also gives creamer longer shelf life.  You know what it is?

Hydrogenated oil.  Trans fat, man.

Let’s list out a few more of these ingredients.  Corn Syrup solids, which is just corn syrup in a solid form, sodium caseinate, which is derived from milk (so is non-dairy creamer really non-dairy?), diglycerides, which apparently are similar to, if not the same as, hydrogenated oils, and the list really goes on and on.

Bottom line:  That cheap non-dairy creamer is honestly junk.  Honestly, if you want to cream your coffee, you’re better off using real milk or half and half.  I mean, it’s real stuff.  Preferably organic if you can find it.

If you’re trying to find a non-dairy alternative, you could try alternatives made from cashews, almonds or even coconut oil that you can buy and also that you can make.  I’m not a regular coffee drinker myself so my knowledge is limited here, but the key is, if you’re going to cream, use something that’s real.  Otherwise, to be honest, you’re paying somebody to give you something that’s “killing you softly” as the song goes.

Alright, so I’m done now.  If nothing else, what I want to leave you with today is, you gotta know what is in your food.  In Hosea 4:6 in the Bible, God said that His people were dying because of a lack of knowledge.  That’s the case for all of us, man.  We’re eating these and other things, which by the way, you’ll find only in man-made foods, and we’re purchasing them because they’re cheap and they taste okay, but they are literally killing us.

Taste isn’t everything.  At the end of the day, we have bodies that need key materials to ensure our survival and our ability to thrive.  Keep in mind that most of that stuff was made, not to help you live, but so you’ll buy it and make somebody else some money.  That’s real.

Have a question you want answered on the Your Health At The Crossroads show?  Interested in becoming a sponsor of the show?  Tweet your question to @ShawnB2BFitness, put it on the YHATC Facebook page, or call (478)216-8536 and leave a voicemail.  You can also send your question via e-mail  to shawn@yourhealthatthecrossroads.com.  Sponsorship inquiries can be sent via e-mail or by calling (478)216-8536.

2 Responses to “YHATC017 – Do You REALLY Know What That Is That You’re Eating?

  • Wow, this was incredible!! I make my own vanilla, make my own cookies cakes and pastries therefore I can keep a tab on what is in it. I also treat myself to a mystery meat hotdogs every once in a while, but I wish I knew how to make my own. Slowly but surely I am becoming aware of what’s in it before I put it in me.
    Thank you Shawn for keeping us aware!!

    • No problem! That’s awesome that you actually make your own vanilla! Yeah, I tripped out myself when I first heard about where the flavoring comes from.

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