Top 10 Reasons to Avoid Processed Foods

by guest blogger Tyler Graham, coauthor of
The Happiness Diet

1: Deciphering food label ingredients leads to unappetizing results. Take the innocuous-sounding castoreum, which is used to enhance the flavor of puddings, candies, and some frozen dairy desserts. You might be surprised to know that it’s derived from beavers—beaver anal glands, specifically.

2: Many foods get their red coloring—”carmine”—from ground-up insect shells that can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.

3: The greater the number of cheap cuts of meat ground into a single patty, the greater the risk of contamination with E. coli. A standard fast-food burger contains the trimmings of dozens of cows raised around the globe.

4: According to research from UCLA, it takes only two months to lower levels of brain chemicals responsible for learning and memory (like BDNF) on a steady diet of processed foods.

5: Processed food is only as good as its packaging: In the summer of last year, Kellogg’s recalled 28 million boxes of cereal because a compound in the box lining (the company wouldn’t say what) was giving off a foul smell and tainting the taste of the boxed food.

6: The same company that makes metal detectors for airports also sells them to food manufacturers, who use the devices to test processed meats for stray wires, metal shards, and hypodermic needles.

7: The ingredients list for Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups doesn’t include…strawberries.

8: Animal feed given to factory-farmed cows contains rendered roadkill and euthanized cats and dogs, as well as plastic pellets as a cheap form of “roughage.”

9: There are more than 80 ingredients in one Oscar Mayer Lunchables Breaded Chicken and Mozzarella sandwich.

10: The FDA allows 19 maggots and 74 mites in a three-and-a-half-ounce can of mushrooms.

Tyler Graham is the coauthor of
The Happiness Diet. Previously, he served as the health and environment editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, the nutrition editor atPrevention, and the environment editor atBest Life. He recently launched a men’s health section at Details magazine.






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9 Responses to Top 10 Reasons to Avoid Processed Foods

  1. peggy greco January 12, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    eek! canned mushrooms!

  2. Sherrie Belliveau January 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Sobering and disturbing. Now I KNOW WHY I avoid processed foods.

  3. Keith G January 12, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    “wild” mushrooms many times contain more than 19 maggots per 3.5 ounces. Do you prefer your maggots fresh, or pickled? these are not the same maggots you may find in your trashcan… they are edible, and part of the natural growth cycle.

  4. Roxanne January 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    What a wealth of information. It is getting so you don’t know where to buy or what to eat. Is it any wonder people are looking for farm stands, and seeking to eat local? I have sought out locally raised, grass fed beef from the Roseda Beef Farm in Maryland, locally grown apples from the York county Farms in PA, and Maryland , non frozen seafood from my local seafood business. Always adding to my list of sources!
    Thanks for keeping us informed of your discoveries.

  5. jan January 18, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    You can test the difference or yourself -a few years ago I made all things from scratch. I felt better than ever and I wasn’ t fat I was the healthiest ever. I am saying that because my family was never into fast foods but sometimes would get the usual canned or frozen vegetables once in a while-but making my own breads and things put my health way over the top. I have slipped into buying bread but I am going to go back to my old ways of making things. It’s cheaper but most of all it tastes great. You can’t tell what you are eating if things are mass produced in a factory.

  6. Lee Bender January 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    As a celiac, you can’t help but notice how much wheat filler is pumped into foods. Although I avoided processed foods before, I’ve (gratefully) had to go even further to escape the American gluten trap.

  7. mariana January 22, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    The more education available, the healthier the populous. That being said, the more involved one is with personal healthy food choices, the less desirable processed foods are. And sadly, the more difficult it is to travel….especially in the US.
    Just getting over a sugar overload after a weekend of visiting family, yuck :/

  8. Amy Pearson January 27, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    We cannot depend on government institutions or multinational corporations to “allow us” to be organic – we must take action to make it happen!

  9. Gina April 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Roadkill, cat/dog meat given to factory farm animals? I may become a pescatarian very soon.

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