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How safe/pure are our ingredients?


K8memphis
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I have a friend who's policy is to only buy foods from non publicly traded companies.  His assertion is  that quality and cost can't be bed partners. 

In thinking about baking, if I were selling my desserts and using only fresh ingredients without chemicals, wouldn't that significantly decrease shelf life, and then wouldn't that make baking as a business impossible?

If you're running the type of business that sells out of product every day and produces fresh product every evening/morning, then it shouldn't stop you from making money or running a business.

If you're baking product that has to sit on a shelf for a week, then I probably wouldn't buy anything you made :blink:

There are other ways to increase shelf life or adjust to a production schedule - things like freezing components, etc. that don't compromise freshness or quality of raw ingredients.

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I'm with the "natural" crowd, but don't go so far as to commune with the vegans.

I try to keep my logic simple:

If nature made it and it's not toxic if consumed, then I buy it/eat it. I often take a shortcut and ask myself, "Would my great, great-grandmother eat this? Would she even know what it is?" If yes, then I buy it/eat it.

If it's a synthetic replacement (for something natural) or an additive, I avoid it at all costs. That goes for many medicines, antibacterials, fragrances, deoderants, cleaning supplies, fake fats, false sweeters, diet anything, etc.

It's a challenge because 'man' tries every which way to 'frost the cake's of nature' with 'manmade manure' (antibiotics or rBST in dairy, pesticides and herbicides on fruits and vegetables, trans fats in margarine, shortening, etc. ad nauseum).

I read an article this morning that sums it nicely: "Anything man makes in large doses is most likely not good for you."

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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I'm with the "natural" crowd, but don't go so far as to commune with the vegans.

I try to keep my logic simple:

If nature made it and it's not toxic if consumed, then I buy it/eat it. I often take a shortcut and ask myself, "Would my great, great-grandmother eat this? Would she even know what it is?" If yes, then I buy it/eat it.

If it's a synthetic replacement (for something natural) or an additive, I avoid it at all costs. That goes for many medicines, antibacterials, fragrances, deoderants, cleaning supplies, fake fats, false sweeters, diet anything, etc.

It's a challenge because 'man' tries every which way to 'frost the cake's of nature' with 'manmade manure' (antibiotics or rBST in dairy, pesticides and herbicides on fruits and vegetables, trans fats in margarine, shortening, etc. ad nauseum).

I read an article this morning that sums it nicely: "Anything man makes in large doses is most likely not good for you."

That definition would eliminate white sugar, no?

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That definition would eliminate white sugar, no?

Pretty much.

I tend to lean more towards the "ignorance is bliss" and "what I don't know won't hurt me until it hurts me... I'll worry about it then" line of thinking for my personal eating. I'm much more attentive when cooking/baking for others or for pay but I don't have the time or desire to scrutinize everything I want to eat or drink that carefully. Probably not smart and maybe it will cost me a few hours/days/years in the end but it's a lot less stressful not worrying over it now. Isn't stress bad for us too?

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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That definition would eliminate white sugar, no?

Sugar is manmade? Someone should share that secret with the beets and the sugar cane.

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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That definition would eliminate white sugar, no?

Pretty much.

I tend to lean more towards the "ignorance is bliss" and "what I don't know won't hurt me until it hurts me... I'll worry about it then" line of thinking for my personal eating. I'm much more attentive when cooking/baking for others or for pay but I don't have the time or desire to scrutinize everything I want to eat or drink that carefully. Probably not smart and maybe it will cost me a few hours/days/years in the end but it's a lot less stressful not worrying over it now. Isn't stress bad for us too?

I don't find it stressful at all to avoid chemicals whenever possible. Why would it be stressful? I read labels, if I don't like what I see, I don't buy it. End of story.

Eileen

Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

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Apologies, that was supposed to be funny. Good thing I don't try to make a living with my humor isn't it?

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I'm with the "natural" crowd, but don't go so far as to commune with the vegans.

I try to keep my logic simple:

If nature made it and it's not toxic if consumed, then I buy it/eat it. I often take a shortcut and ask myself, "Would my great, great-grandmother eat this? Would she even know what it is?" If yes, then I buy it/eat it.

If it's a synthetic replacement (for something natural) or an additive, I avoid it at all costs. That goes for many medicines, antibacterials, fragrances, deoderants, cleaning supplies, fake fats, false sweeters, diet anything, etc.

It's a challenge because 'man' tries every which way to 'frost the cake's of nature' with 'manmade manure' (antibiotics or rBST in dairy, pesticides and herbicides on fruits and vegetables, trans fats in margarine, shortening, etc. ad nauseum).

I read an article this morning that sums it nicely: "Anything man makes in large doses is most likely not good for you."

That definition would eliminate white sugar, no?

That definition would eliminate white sugar, no?

Sugar is manmade? Someone should share that secret with the beets and the sugar cane.

Well then with this logic one cannot see the problem with partially hydrogenated soybean oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil, or coconut oil. Hydrogen is certainly not manmade. What's not natural about cotton, palms, soy and coconuts.

Everything has chemicals as Patrick has so carefully illuminated in the dissection of cabbage. Sugar is at least as bad as any trans fat and ten thousand times more prevelant.

White sugar is a socially acceptable evil. Trans fats are the new culprits. There's an old saying, the only law is the law of public opinion. Interesting huh.

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Sugar is manmade? Someone should share that secret with the beets and the sugar cane.

By that logic, if you go far enough back in the process you'll find some form of a natural beginning to pretty much everything you eat or drink. The stuff the beets and sugar cane make isn't snowy white. Very few things in the food world are man-made. They're man-extracted, man-refined, man-modified, man-enhanced, man-f#*ked-up and even, in some cases, man-improved but not many (if any) are actually man-made. It's what happens to it after we get ahold of it that determines where each person has to draw their lines.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I think people are quick to jump on simplistic ideas about what kinds of refinement are bad, and what kinds of chemicals are bad.

While there's plenty of scientific evidence showing that wheat germ and bran can be beneficial, there is no evidence suggesting that flour is somehow made harmful by sifting those things out. There is likewise no compelling scientific evidence suggesting that refined sugars are somehow harmful (agit prop blogs and books based on annecdote really do not count as evidence).

Nutritionists would rather have us look at diets as a whole rather than at individual foods or ingredients. A diet too high in refined sugars often correlates with either too high a calorie intake, or too low an intake of more important nutrients. This is not the same as saying that refined sugars are harmful.

In addition, the folk wisdom of "avoid anything with scary sounding chemical names" can be misleading. There are plenty of wholesome seeming natural plants that are harmful (most obviously hemlock, and a whole range of mushrooms, less obviously foods like fiddlehead ferns). And there are plenty of scary sounding chemicals that are the stuff of life.

Consider this ingredient list:

Cyclohexane, methylcyclohexane, hydrocarbon, dimethylcyclohexane, ethylcyclohexane, 1,1-diethoxyethane, ethanol, alpha-pinene, 1-methylpropan-1-ol, toluene, alpha-fenchene, camphene, hexanal, an ethyl butenoate, butan-1-ol, beta-pinene, sabinene, xylene, car-3-ene, myrcene, alpha-phellandrene, 3-methylbutan-1-ol, limonene, beta-phellandrene, gama-terpinene, para-cymene, alpha-terpinolene, cis-hex-3-en-1-ol, 2-furfural, ethyl octanoate, alpha-copanene, beta-caryophyllene, ehtyl decanoate, sabinyl acetate, alpha-humulene, ethyl dodecanoate

I know people who would fear contracting cancer just from reading a list like that. But it's actually just a partial list of the naturally ocurring flavor compounds in a mango.

As a broad generalization, I think it's smart to choose minimally processed foods when the choice makes sense, and to likewise avoid chemical additives and food substitutes (fake sugar, fake fat, etc.). But it's important to recognize the limitations of any generalization. It's better to actually learn about the ingredients involved, rather than to leap to simple conclusions on a topic that's by its nature complex.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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I'd much rather eat insect parts (most likely grasshopper or cricket for small grains) than the hazardous chemicals in pesticides.

The irony is that while you could probably take extreme measures to eliminate insect parts from food (e.g. growing and processing food indoors under some extremely controlled conditions), a diet including plants could never be free of pesticides, for the simple reason that 99.99% (by weight) of the pesticides in the diet are produced by plants themselves as chemical defenses against predators....

I know firsthand that farmers use the least amount of pesticides and fertilizers they can - they're expensive! My brothers farm small grains on 1000 acres and they test the soil to determine application rates so there is no carryover, etc. But I also have friends who work in pesticide oversight in the Dept. of Ag. and their opinions, based on their field research, lend a different perspective. They say there is a lot of runoff and excess usage. Maybe it isn't on the food, but it's surely in the environment.

I'm not that worried about it - I just stated my preference between the two - I know I can't avoid either one. I don't even try. There is so much stuff just floating in the air that it's silly to worry about what's on a couple of strawberries.

I wonder if subsequent studies have been consistent with the (rather dated) one you have quoted.

Edit to add: I also realize that all food is composed of chemicals, etc. I like chemicals (they can get you a nice buzz even). I just think we may have more exposure to all sorts of chemicals than would be ideal. But no one has ever lived in an ideal world.

Edited by Darcie B (log)
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I don't necessarily thing we are "safer" than any other point in history ...

I bet that records of mortality rates and food-borne illness would show that we're a lot safer.

A LOT safer. and that includes infant mortality rates and mortality related to congenital anomalies (birth defects).

in fact, despite the presence of chemicals, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, etc...infant mortality rates and birth defect rates in developed countries are far lower than in developing countries.

despite the hysteria..."natural" is bad.

(people once opposed the steel plow on the same grounds)

one other thought: when it comes to the food stalls of Singapore....well, that's Singapore...not Champawat.

The US, which uses many of these chemicals actually has the highest infant mortality rate of any developed country.

Third world countries, the ones with the highest mortality rates, have no medical care available for mothers or infants. That is the cause of their infant mortality.

Eileen

1. this is simply incorrect according to WHO data. (the U.S. is higher than most developed countries.

2. the U.S. defines infant mortality more broadly than some developed countries.

3. infant mortality in the U.S. is decreasing (with the exception of 2004).

4. infant mortality in the U.S. among non-African Americans is similar to the European average.

5. the U.S. leads the world in premature deliveries (this is a positive)...this has a sharp effect on the infant mortality rate.

is your thesis that African-Americans have a special susceptibility to environmental chemicals?

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Data like mortality rates can only make sense if you break it down to more specific populations than whole countries.

For example, in a country like the U.S., if rates of infant mortality, diabetes, and asthma are way up among extremely poor populations, this can have a pronounced effect on the numbers for the total population. But it will actually tell you nothing about the average health of other demographics.

If those numbers are actually down for the middle class, then it's unlikely that you can peg those high disease rates on foods or environmental factors that are shared by both groups.

Notes from the underbelly

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I avoid artificial sweeteners because I don't like the taste. I usually go for raw sugar instead of white sugar because raw sugar has a depth of flavor instead of just plain sweetness.

I generally buy organic fruit and veggies because I shop at local farmers markets because the produce is fresher and tastes better. But a lot of that has to do with when it was picked and how ripe it was when it was picked.

But I also drink two cans of coke classic a day. And if you think that is good for you, then soak a pice of meat in coke and see what happens. It is also the best thing that I have found to clean rust.

Also, there are myriads of toxins and other undesireables in everything you eat, if there was not then you would have no need to go to the bathroom. Still, there is nothing wrong with trying to minimize the crap that you put into your body. But if you take it too far then you end up like the guy in Dr. Strangelove who would only drink rain water mixed with pure grain alcohol and brought about the end of the world.

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In addition, the folk wisdom of "avoid anything with scary sounding chemical names" can be misleading. There are plenty of wholesome seeming natural plants that are harmful (most obviously hemlock, and a whole range of mushrooms, less obviously foods like fiddlehead ferns). And there are plenty of scary sounding chemicals that are the stuff of life.

Consider this ingredient list:

Cyclohexane, methylcyclohexane, hydrocarbon, dimethylcyclohexane, ethylcyclohexane, 1,1-diethoxyethane, ethanol, alpha-pinene, 1-methylpropan-1-ol, toluene, alpha-fenchene, camphene, hexanal, an ethyl butenoate, butan-1-ol, beta-pinene, sabinene, xylene, car-3-ene, myrcene, alpha-phellandrene, 3-methylbutan-1-ol, limonene, beta-phellandrene, gama-terpinene, para-cymene, alpha-terpinolene, cis-hex-3-en-1-ol, 2-furfural, ethyl octanoate, alpha-copanene, beta-caryophyllene, ehtyl decanoate, sabinyl acetate, alpha-humulene, ethyl dodecanoate

I know people who would fear contracting cancer just from reading a list like that. But it's actually just a partial list of the naturally ocurring flavor compounds in a mango.

Very good point. There is a strong tendency to assume that materials referred to be their chemical names are harmful, which is not suprising given that the average person's exposure to chemical names is usually in the context of reporting on health risks. While everyone drinks water and life is impossible without it, most people would be pretty wary of deliberately ingesting dihydrogen monoxide. And while most people wouldn't hesitate to add a little vanilla to their sweets, they probably wouldn't be enthusiastic to use 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I think people are quick to jump on simplistic ideas about what kinds of refinement are bad, and what kinds of chemicals are bad.

While there's plenty of scientific evidence showing that wheat germ and bran can be beneficial, there is no evidence suggesting that flour is somehow made harmful by sifting those things out. There is likewise no compelling scientific evidence suggesting that refined sugars are somehow harmful (agit prop blogs and books based on annecdote really do not count as evidence).

...

Refined sugar is without compelling scientific evidence to suggest it is harmful? This statement goes to the core of the matter that I am attempting to bring to attention. If you google the word sugar and look at the wikipedia article alone, bastion of all knowledge, there's a little section under health that looks like this,

5 In relation to health

5.1 Tooth-decay

5.2 Diabetes

5.3 Obesity

5.4 United Nations nutritional advice

5.5 Sugar producers’ nutritional advice

5.6 Debate on extrinsic sugar

5.7 Nutrition

5.8 Sugar and hyperactivity

On the same google page, this article, "Sugar's effect on your health" http://www.healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/sugar.htm. I boldened and underlined some key points.

In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! Cardiovascular disease and cancer were virtually unknown in the early 1900's. .

The "glycemic index" is a measure of how a given food affects blood-glucose levels, with each food being assigned a numbered rating. The lower the rating, the slower the absorption and digestion process, which provides a more gradual, healthier infusion of sugars into the bloodstream. On the other hand, a high rating means that blood-glucose levels are increased quickly, which stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin to drop blood-sugar levels. These rapid fluctuations of blood-sugar levels are not healthy because of the stress they place on the body.

One of sugar's major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. This is not something you want to take place if you want to avoid disease.

An influx of sugar into the bloodstream upsets the body's blood-sugar balance, triggering the release of insulin, which the body uses to keep blood-sugar at a constant and safe level. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat sweets high in sugar, you're making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Complex carbohydrates tend to be absorbed more slowly, lessening the impact on blood-sugar levels.

Sugar depresses the immune system.

We have known this for decades.   It was only in the 1970's that researchers found out that vitamin C was needed by white blood cells so that they could phagocytize viruses and bacteria. White blood cells require a 50 times higher concentration inside the cell as outside so they have to accumulate vitamin C.

There is something called a "phagocytic index" which tells you how rapidly a particular macrophage or lymphocyte can gobble up a virus, bacteria, or cancer cell. It was in the 1970's that Linus Pauling realized that white blood cells need a high dose of vitamin C and that is when he came up with his theory that you need high doses of vitamin C to combat the common cold. 

We know that glucose and vitamin C have similar chemical structures, so what happens when the sugar levels go up? They compete for one another upon entering the cells. And the thing that mediates the entry of glucose into the cells is the same thing that mediates the entry of vitamin C into the cells. If there is more glucose around, there is going to be less vitamin C allowed into the cell. It doesn't take much: a blood sugar value of 120 reduces the phagocytic index by 75%. So when you eat sugar, think of your immune system slowing down to a crawl.

Here we are getting a little bit closer to the roots of disease. It doesn't matter what disease we are talking about, whether we are talking about a common cold or about cardiovascular disease, or cancer or osteoporosis, the root is always going to be at the cellular and molecular level, and more often than not insulin is going to have its hand in it, if not totally controlling it.

The health dangers which ingesting sugar on an habitual basis creates are certain. Simple sugars have been observed to aggravate asthma, move mood swings, provoke personality changes, muster mental illness, nourish nervous disorders, deliver diabetes, hurry heart disease, grow gallstones, hasten hypertension, and add arthritis.

Because refined dietary sugars lack minerals and vitamins, they must draw upon the body's micro-nutrient stores in order to be metabolized into the system. When these storehouses are depleted, metabolization of cholesterol and fatty acid is impeded, contributing to higher blood serum triglycerides, cholesterol, promoting obesity due to higher fatty acid storage around organs and in sub-cutaneous tissue folds.

Because sugar is devoid of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and has such a deteriorating effect on the endocrine system, major researchers and major health organizations (American Dietetic Association and American Diabetic Association) agree that sugar consumption in America is one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease.

And let me hasten to say I'm a baker, a cake decorator. I use a lot of white sugar in my profession. But I can no longer consume any without weight gain. So even if I do not count as my own anecdote, there are whole medical facilities with the word diabetes in thier name in case you think sugar is a nice white pure harmless product.

My ultimate point is that if you are going to poopoo trans fats for health reasons then one must certainly consider abolishing white sugar at a minimum. Wake up and smell the cookies.

From a health standpoint to avoid 'fake sugar' and partake of the 'real thing' is absurd, no?

Y'know the old story about the unsuspecting frogs being boiled alive by just turning up the heat slowly? See any bubbles yet?

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From the same article:

Here is a list of ways sugar can affect your health:

Sugar can suppress the immune system.

Sugar can upset the body's mineral balance.

Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.

Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.

Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.

Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol (HDLs).

Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol (LDLs).

Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.

Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.

Sugar can cause kidney damage.

Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.

Sugar can cause copper deficiency.

Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.

Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.

Sugar can promote tooth decay.

Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.

Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.

Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.

Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and grey hair.

Sugar can increase total cholesterol.

Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.

High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Sugar can contribute to diabetes.

Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.

Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.

Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.

Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.

Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.

Sugar causes food allergies.

Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.

Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.

Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.

Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.

Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.

Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.

Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.

Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.

Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.

Sugar can cause depression.

Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention.

Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.

Sugar can cause hypertension.

Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.

Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind's ability to think clearly.

Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness which increases risk of blood clots and strokes.

Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low sugar diets.

Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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oh, and cancer mortality rates go down every year as well.

Cancer mortality rates may go down, we've got great doctors and scientists, they get paid for something. However, incidence of cancer is rising. I'd rather not have cancer to begin with than to know that there are some great doctors that can remove a couple of your body parts, radiate the rest and probably keep you alive. I don't mean that to sound snotty, but I also believe many of our recent (past 50 or so years) health problems including increase in cancer are due to environmental and food polutants and chemicals. I understand why they're used, but I don't think our bodies can handle them. I don't think there's an easy answer. Everyone can't have their own farm and produce all of their own food, process it and cook it. So, manufacturers have to make cookies that will last for 6 months without spoiling. They are still as soft and chewy as the day they were baked. That's just not natural. That's why I cook as many of my families meals and goodies from scratch (besides that I enjoy it) as I'm reasonably able to and hope for the best on the rest.

Data like mortality rates can only make sense if you break it down to more specific populations than whole countries.

For example, in a country like the U.S., if rates of infant mortality, diabetes, and asthma are way up among extremely poor populations, this can have a pronounced effect on the numbers for the total population. But it will actually tell you nothing about the average health of other demographics.

If those numbers are actually down for the middle class, then it's unlikely that you can peg those high disease rates on foods or environmental factors that are shared by both groups.

Well, I feel differently about this. I tend to buy plenty of fresh fruit, 100% fruit juices, ingredients to make my own cookies and goodies (thereby adjusting the sugar and fat content to my preferences) making my own hamburger patties, etc to control what my growing children injest and reduce the amount of "artificial" stuff they eat. But when work is slow for my hubby and my dollar has to stretch farther, it's easier and cheaper to buy a box of Oreos than to buy flour, sugar, butter, eggs, cocoa powder, etc. Compare the price of a bottle of off-brand soda to a container of real fruit juice. Or the price of a huge loaf of squishy, fluffy white bread with 0 fiber content compared to a loaf of multigrain 4g fiber per slice bread. Or even a box of cookies compared to a bag of fruit.

Also , my mom was a stay at home mom as I was and she taught me to cook. Many who come from poorer or single parents families aren't taught what used to be basic kitchen skills in order to provide healthful meals for their families and so they buy prepared foods that are easy to put on the table. Or they themselves are single parents and don't have time to cook from scratch, to shop at the farmer's market, or access to higher quality ingredients. Stores in poorer neighborhoods don't usually carry the same type or quality of products as those in more affluent neighborhoods. If you were riding the subway to buy groceries as opposed to driving your own car are you more likely to buy 10 bags of whole foods to prepare a week's worth of meals for your family or 2 bags of frozen dinners?

Also, lower income housing is often in less desirable areas even in terms of environmental polutants. Even middle class folk may have a choice not to live near the landfill or power plant substation. And as a fact of life in the U.S., more African Americans fall into the lower economic bracket. Some things may fall into heredity or traditional type of diet, but I believe much is directly related to economic status which leads to lack of choices in healthful eating and environment.

Edited by shaloop (log)
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you can believe whatever you want but you're not entitled to your own facts.

yes, cancer diagnosis is increasing...but that is not the same thing as saying that the actual incidence of cancer is increasing.

all that we really know is that oncological mortality is decreasing.

just like mortality of all kinds.

the major issue with sugar appears to be caloric...which isn't a difference between refined and "natural" sugars.

overconsumption is not an intrinsic property of an ingredient.

and I'm not interested in links to random webpages. you're more than welcome to post citations to peer-reviewed scientific articles. only those are credible.

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But I also drink two cans of coke classic a day. And if you think that is good for you, then soak a pice of meat in coke and see what happens.

I wouldn't be too worried about that. Try soaking a piece of meat in pineapple juice or papaya juice for a day and see what happens. Surely you're not suggesting that pineapple juice is bad?

On the same google page, this article, "Sugar's effect on your health" http://www.healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/sugar.htm. I boldened and underlined some key points.
In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! Cardiovascular disease and cancer were virtually unknown in the early 1900's. .

You believe them when they say that "cardiovascular disease and cancer were virtually unknown" in the beginning of the 20th Century? How can we possibly believe anything else these people write when they make such a ridiculous and clearly wrong assertion?

Cancer, for example, has been documented and remarked upon as early as 1600 BC, so I think it's safe to say that it was not "virtually unknown" in 1900. Some cancers that were quite common 100 years ago (e.g., stomach cancer) actually are relatively rare today. I could say similar things about cardiovascular disease. So, no... sugar is not causing an increasing spike in cancer and cardiovascular disease rates -- mostly because there is no spike in cancer and cardiovascular disease rates. We are, however, a lot better at detecting and classifying (and treating) cancer and cardiovascular disease than we were 100 years ago. And, on top of that, people are living a lot longer these days, so there is quite a lot of increased opportunity to develop cancer and cardiovascular disease, and for such cancer and cardiovascular disease to be detected (and treated) before the person dies. Even if there were an overall rise in cancer and cardiovascular disease compared to 100 years ago, there is no credible evidence that such a rise could be attributed to increased consumption of refined sugar. Increased diagnoses of cancer and cardiovascular disease happen to correlate highly with things like telephone poles per capita and other markers of a modern First World society.

However, incidence of cancer is rising.

No, it isn't. Our ability to detect and classify cancer is growing more advanced. And actually, even with modern-day detection capabilities, according to the American Cancer Society: ". . . age-adjusted incidence rates for all cancer sites combined continue to decrease."

--

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The Healing Daily article is the kind of agit prop that I'm railing against. If the claims are based on any scientific research at all, I'd be willing to be bet that they are based on interpretations of the research not shared by the researchers themselves.

This kind of discussion makes me insane because it testifies to the horrible state of science education in this country. We have journalists and bloggers writing on scientific subjects who don't understand how science is done or anything about its abilities or limitations. And we have a public that salivates for the latest, hipest, unssupported pseudoscientific claims.

I would have to write fifty pages to refute every point in that article. I'm not going to do it, but as a simple example I'll speak to one of them.

Glycemic index is a new favorite. The statements that get made about g.i. and thrown around as truths these day, don't make any sense at all.

There's a general assumption that eating high g.i. foods is bad. In fact, there are situations (recovering from exercise, for example) when they are the ideal thing to eat. It's also been shown that the body's blood sugar stability and tolerance for high g.i. foods is highly individual. There is no one-size-fits-all data for what g.i. is ideal for all people under all circumstances. Research showing detrimental health effects from from high g.i. foods is not demonstrating that these foods are bad, but that TOO MUCH of these foods are bad ... just as too much fat is bad, too much protein is bad, too much salt is bad, and even too much water is bad. The difference between a beneficial nutrient and a toxin is often a matter of dose and context.

There's also a general assumption that simple sugars have a higher g.i. than complex carbohydrates, and that among simple sugars, refined ones have a higher g.i. than unrefined ones. In practice this is not true.

For example, here are the glycemic indices of some "bad for you" sweets made with refined sugar:

pound cake 54

chocolate cake 38

sponge cake 46

danish pastry 59

Here here are the glycemic indices of some fruits, representing unrefined, natural sugars:

raisins 64

pineapple 66

watermeellon 72

And here are the glycemic indices of some complex carbohydrate foods, including whole grains and a root vegetable:

rice cakes 77

brown rice pasta 92

parsnips 97

Is this surprising? If so, it's because the science behind g.i. is complex.

Finally, there's the idea that you can look at the glycemic index of an individual ingredient and know ANYTHING about how it will effect your body in the context of an actual meal. You can't. Your body doesn't process the food in isolation. Pure sucrose has a pretty high g.i., but when you have it with fats, the total g.i. of the meal plummets. Hence the low g.i. of chocolate cake.

Is this an argument for eating piles of refined sugar, or seeking out a high g.i. diet? I hope not. My point is that you need to beware of the pseudoscience (and we drown in more pseudoscience than we do high fructose corn syrup, in my opinion) and respect the complexity of the issues. There are few individual ingredients that desserve demonizing. Almost anything that occurs in significant quantities in natural foods is probably ok--in some proportion--as a part of a good diet.

Notes from the underbelly

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As an adendum, this is specifically the kind of thinking that I'm at war against:

If you google the word sugar and look at the wikipedia article alone, bastion of all knowledge, there's a little section under health that looks like this...

Hitting google and looking at encyclopedia articles doesn't count as examining the evidence. It counts as looking at other people's interpretations of the evidence (or of rumor, fad, heresay ...)

If you want evidence, get on the NIH PubMed database, and see the actual state of the research on the subject. The first thing you'll discover is that there are far fewer simple answers than what most people assume. The second thing is that most fad diets, health kicks, knee-jerk fears are based on next to nothing.

If you know anyone who does research, they can help you understand the format and some of the lingo (my girlfriend is an MD PhD, so she's been able to walk me through some of the clinical conventions). Just beware that research is very specific; forming generalizations based on a particular result can send you down the slippery slope encounted by well-intentioned but misinformed journalists (if lab mice get brain tumors from eating half their body weight in chocolate every day, you shouldn't assume you're going to die from a hershey bar. that kind of thing).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

Notes from the underbelly

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There's peer reviewed stuff out there. I've gone & looked it up before. It's out there in egullet-land somewhere.

My point is that white sugar is at least as bad for us as trans fats.

It is not propaganda and agitation to me because it is true of me, but anecdotal information is not allowed by whatever standard has been imposed.

Truth is the water is rapidy boiling.

It would be worse than prohibition to try to curb sugar use like they are doing to stupid trans fats.

Since we are imposing random standards of excellence, prove to me that white sugar is not harmful for your pancreas and skin and cardiovascular system.

PS. start with the sugar lobby

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