I like reading books and watching documentaries about health and our food system. The only problem is that it makes me afraid of food I buy from supermarkets. I went to Cold Storage recently and they were having a sale of “jumbo chickens.” Instead of salivating, I looked at them suspiciously. They were all the same jumbo size with the same massive breasts, looking very swollen and brown.
(They looked something like that)
These thoughts raced through my head:
- Why is the chicken so big? Has it been pumped full of antibiotics?
- Where is the chicken from? Were they caged up with no space to run around and fattened up on corn?
- What’s the sauce they use to coat the chicken? Is there sugar in it?
- Why do I need to think so much before I buy a piece of poultry?
This makes grocery shopping very stressful.
In one of the documentaries I watched recently, a scientist examines the hair shaft of two Americans to see how percentage of their carbon originated from corn. He found that more than 50% of their diet derive from corn. But this doesn’t mean that the film makers eat corn on the cob half of the time.
Rather, corn is processed, broken down into so many additives and added to so many processed food that it manages to sneak into our diets without us realising it. Some of these industrial products are:
- High-fructose corn syrup – a sweetener used in Coke and other soft drinks
- Dextrose – a sugar added to French fries
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – flavour enhancer used extensively in Singapore hawker centres. I have a big problem with MSG. Too much of it and I get a very bad neck and spine ache. They feel numb and start tingling at the same time. The last time this happened I ate a fish cake from a hawker centre, which turned out to contain more MSG than fish.
This is a great resource that lists the ingredients derived from corn.
To read more about the industrial food industry and the impact on our health, check out:
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (This was the first book I read on this topic; it’s an amazing book and you will never look at your food the same way again)
- Eat Your Heart Out: Why the Food Business is Bad for the Planet and Your Health by Felicity Lawrence (talks about the food business from a UK/European point of view)
The documentaries are:
- Food, Inc
- King Corn