What Are We Really Eating?

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What’s big, packed, and full of words we can’t pronounce? The modern day grocery!

Where getting groceries was once a simple weekend chore, today it’s a lesson in jargon and frankenscience. It’s rare, if not impossible, to find food that’s truly free of chemicals, additives (including some rodent droppings and maggots – no, we’re not kidding), and harmful preservatives.

An apple a day might have kept the doctor away 20 years ago, but unknown to you, the modern-day apple might just be a GMO, antibiotic and pesticide-injected, carcinogen carrier in disguise.

Every time food standards change or adapt, or scientists and food bloggers stumble upon on a new, hot topic, shoppers are confronted by an avalanche of products that claim to be packed with good stuff and free of whatever harmful ingredient is in vogue.

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Adding to the confusion, everything from cereal to waffles, soft drinks, tea, and candy is now plastered with more healthy-looking buzzwords (like gluten free) liberally ascribed than recognisable ingredients. Words like organic, antioxidant, all natural, wholegrain, wholewheat, gluten free, and sugar free, affect our perceptions of products, and feed into our desires to eat better. Most times though, the labels aren’t all we make them out to be, and healthy-sounding food doesn’t necessarily mean healthier food.

An ‘all natural’ green tea drink, for example, may brand itself as organic, natural, vegan, and antioxidant-full, but it may also contain as much sugar as your standard doughnut. A ‘sugar-free’ chocolate might be free of added cane sugar and high fructose syrup, but still incorporates some sort of artificial sweetener. Similarly, a ‘wholegrain’ product (not 100% wholegrain) can easily be full of refined white flour mixed in with a tiny portion of whole grains, and still retain a ‘wholegrain’ designation.

Yikes!

Nowhere does the age-old journalistic truism and every skeptic’s favourite cliché hold more true than here.

If your mother says she loves you, check it out. If your food says it’s healthy, definitely check it out.

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So what should we eat?

To make sense of today’s confusing and complicated food landscape, we’ve teamed up with the bubbly and extremely knowledgeable Mweia Elias of Empower Nutrition for a seven-part series called #WhatIsFood, to break down just what it is we are putting on our plates.

In our first video, we tackle three of the trendiest health food buzzwords – gluten free, vegan, and organic – with a discerning eye, and try to figure out exactly what they mean. Watch the video below to learn more about whether health food buzzwords are useful guidelines, or just trumped up claims, bogus buzzwords, and marketing tools built to create ‘health halos‘ and lull you into a false sense of what’s good to eat.

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