Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why microwave popcorn is bad for you... or processed foods in general

See below an article on what microwave popcorn is made of. The usual reaction would be for consumers to protest, and when the protests become loud enough, the companies announce that they have removed ingredient XYZ from the popcorn. Of course, there are other ingredients that are probably even more harmful in there, and others will be added. A lot of these ingredients don't even have to be reported since they are "under" some prescribed limit.

Ever wondered how the processed food that you buy from supermarket shelves is so convenient? It does not spoil. It has a delightful shape and color. It has wonderful aroma. It is addictive - you can say that from experience, and you will be right; since food "scientists" are constantly tweaking the ingredients to make it more addictive.

All processed foods have a high amount of salt in them, and it is not even the right kind of salt. They have enormous amounts of sugar (yes, even those foods that sometimes may not taste sweet), and then again the wrong kinds of sugar like 'high fructose corn syrup'. The oil they use is in several cases not what you would want to use at home. If someone objects to "trans fats" in the food, be sure they will substitute it with something equally horrible.  

And let us not even get started on the kind of 'additives' and 'preservatives' that go into the making of any processed food. That is the subject of one whole book by itself.

The processed foods are made by large corporations. For those of you who have worked for large corporations, the routine would be familiar. There will be metrics on "cost"; and there will be innovation awards for those who give suggestions to reduce the cost of the product. Result? Inferior ingredients, substitution of ingredients, etc. Also, you need all the food to be consistent - so the raw materials themselves are highly processed in the first place.

And then the marketing department takes over. They will come up with slogans like "Eat healthy, think healthier", "Tanduristi ka raksha karta hai Hamara corn", "For healthy, bonny babies, use xxx breakfast cereals" and so on; all the while with pictures of beaming, healthy families dancing to a catchy jingle. Of course, if there is one thing I learnt in my MBA it was that there need not be any connection between product attributes and 'positioning'. Be sure that if anyone has to advertise a food as healthy, it is likely to be unhealthy.

Given below is an article on microwave popcorn, but the conclusion should hardly be 'not to eat microwave popcorn'. Not to eat processed foods is a better conclusion, and one that will save you enormous amount of damage to your health. And that includes all food that comes from 'food factories', including breakfast cereals, white bread, biscuits, ready to eat foods, cool drinks, two-minute cookery miracles, in short, most things that are likely to be forming a part of your shopping cart today.

I am not talking about the attributes of good food out here. There is a lot of traditional wisdom on what foods are good, what are to be restricted, etc. but the one thing traditional wisdom assumes is that the food is natural to start with. So if traditional wisdom says that 'fruit juice' is good, it does not mean the fruit juice that you get in a tetrapack, with all the goodness taken out of it. It means freshly squeezed juice to be had within minutes of extraction.

I can hear you mutter "not practical - which world is this fellow coming from?". That is actually a commentary on the general state of life today, which is pretty sad, if you come to think about it.

article on microwave popcorn (it is a forward )

Microwave Popcorn

It's probably not something you think about every day, whether or not the foods you are eating could contain carcinogens, but with almost 1.5 million people diagnosed with some type of cancer just last year, perhaps it's time to look at what is in our foods that could be causing such a huge number of new cancer patients. Here is a list of the top 10 foods that you most likely consume every day that may contain carcinogens or be suspected of causing cancer.
Those little bags of popcorn are so convenient to just stick in the microwave, you wouldn't think for a minute that they could be dangerous to your health, but they are. First, let's talk about the bag itself. Proved by Wikipedia, conventional microwave popcorn bags are lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid ( PFOA). This is a toxin you can find in Teflon also. According to a recent study at the University of California, PFOA is linked to infertility in women. Numerous studies in lab animals and humans show that exposure to PFOA significantly increases the risk of kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas and testicular cancers. You can read more about this substance and the above mentioned studies at
Now, let's talk about the contents. Although every manufacturer uses slightly different ingredients, most of them use soybean oil (a GMO product) as well as various preservatives such as propyl gallate, a chemical that is causes stomach problems and skin rashes. Now they don't actually say they are using GMO corn kernels, but that's because the government says they don't have to. Even if they don't use GMO corn, you can bet they aren't using organic corn!
Also, applied to the popcorn itself, is a chemical called diacetyl. Use of this chemical caused Conagra Foods to remove it from their brand of popcorn, ACT, because it was causing lung diseases in the workers at their factory.

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