Grocery stores today offer a wide selection of items and there is hardly such a thing as “in-season” anymore. Yes, this is convenient …but it is taking a real toll on our health.
With the current food distribution system, products travel up to 2,500 miles on average before you see them in the grocery aisles. Because of this, the shelf-life of products prepared for consumption must be extended in order for the food to stay its freshest during the immense distance it will travel. Cue the preservatives!
Preservatives generally come in three forms: used to either prevent unwanted bacterial growths, oxidation (changes in foods smell and taste, even causes it to spoil), and to slow the natural rate at which vegetables and fruits ripen. So, manufactures add in certain preservatives to ensure that their products will survive the long journey to the consumer’s shelf. Yet, this ensures them in making a profit while ignoring the fact that food additives are not only unhealthy, but dangerous.
That being said, it is important to read the full ingredient list (required by the FDA) on the package. Most people don’t like doing so simply because they have no idea how to even pronounce some of the stated ingredients, let alone know what they are. A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot pronounce the word, it’s most likely a substance that was added by the manufacturer and is not found naturally in the product.
Some common preservatives to look out for are: Benzoates, Potassium Sorbate, Carrageenan, Calcium Panthothenate, Thiamine Hydrochloride and Propylene Glycol.
Propylene Glycol is used to thicken and texturize certain food items …and also as antifreeze for cars and airplanes!
There are numerous additives that the FDA requires manufactures to list explicitly because they are known to cause health problems. Included in this list are sulfites, used to prevent discoloration, and another preservative that I’m sure you do recognize – monosodium glutamate (MSG). This additive has been shown to cause headaches, nausea, weakness, difficulty breathing, drowsiness, rapid heartbeat, and chest pain.
A common (and delicious) food that often contains preservatives is hummus. Look for brands that boast a “preservative-free” recipe. The fact is food is at its most nutritious …and more importantly, least dangerous… in its purest form. That is why it is crucial to purchase foods (especially fruits and vegetables) that are organic. Organic farming methods guarantee that food has not been grown using toxic chemical pesticides, GMOs, or additives.
The same theory applies to beverages also. To go with your preservative-free cheese and crackers, make sure you are drinking wine without added sulfites. Some natural sulfites are found on grapes, but the key is to buy wine made without any extra sulfites thrown into the mix since this added preservative will cancel out the beneficial anti-oxidant power of your heart-healthy glass of red wine. Better yet, wine made with organic grapes and no added sulfites is a glass that can surely be looked at as half-full.
A wise man once said, “Everything in moderation.” Chelsea, being the wiser woman that she is, says, “...not everything.” She is a true believer in living and leading an all-natural lifestyle. Along with her desire for all things natural, she has a passion for the art of writing, which began with writing for the high school newspaper.
Rediscovered while interning for a non-profit organization through blogging for the company website and writing feature articles for the community newsletter, she now combines her two passions to discuss alternative health topics hoping to lift the veil that currently blinds most people today about what is truly harmful versus what is truly healthy.