The dairy industry is in the process of making an attempt that may or may not surprise you: asking that the “artificially sweetened” label be dropped from dairy products when they contain sweeteners such as aspartame. In this day and age, it seems as though companies and industries are becoming sneakier and sneakier with the ingredients placed in their products. However, if this specific measure is approved by the FDA, serious implications could occur.
While scrolling through my wall today, I stumbled upon this infographic from visualeconomics that Dr. La Puma posted on his Facebook page. I love checking out food related infographics and found this particular one interesting. Let’s see, we eat more fats & oils than chicken, more sugar & corn sweeteners than red meat, and crazy amounts of dairy (631 lbs per year if you combine cheese & dairy). The total amount of fruits and vegetables (688 lbs) looks decent, although I wish I could see a stat on what percentage of that number is fresh vs. heavily processed (aka. Campbell’s canned vegetable soup and the 29 lbs of potatoes in our french fries). I’m not entirely sure what “beverage milks” means. Does it include chocolate milk or is it just non-dairy “milks” such as almond, hemp, soy, etc., or all of the above?
What really caught by eye, though, was the section down below that shows the average American consumes 24 POUNDS of artificial sweeteners per year. 24 pounds? That’s about what my daughter weighed when she was 2 years old (and coincidentally, the size of the average giraffe heart…fun fact). If you think you’re not consuming artificial sweeteners, think again. They are hiding everywhere. It’s the saccharin in your iced tea, the aspartame in your diet soda, and the sucralose in that ice cream bar. Even your chewing gum has been infiltrated as it’s virtually impossible to walk into a grocery store and buy a pack without artificial sweeteners. These innocuous powders also lurk in diet foods, products marketed to diabetics, and all sorts of no-sugar treats. Even Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf uses artificial sweeteners in their “no sugar” beverages (I honestly thought that they were made without any sweetener until I actually asked). If you want to reduce your intake, start by reading labels. Once you spot these guys, make the commitment to try a new brand that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners, make it yourself, or better yet, give it up altogether. Can’t quit yet? Yes, you over there drinking your Diet Coke. Start by reducing your intake until you can break the habit altogether.
Check out the infographic down below for details and tell us what you find significant.
Source: Visual Economics
The True Cost of Bananas
Did you know that bananas are the most frequently purchased item at the grocery store and that major chains will not increase the price above $0.99/lb? I couldn’t believe it until I was at my local Lassen’s health food store and saw that even their organic, fair trade bananas were, you guessed it, $0.99/lb. This article is a fascinating look at the ugly underbelly of the banana industry. I kind of always knew bananas had a secret life, but did not know of the inner workings of the industry. Author Phyllis Robinson speaks from a place of passion and true knowledge (she spent her travels exploring the banana trade in South America). For anyone who “requires” a banana in their morning smoothie like I do, this long, but important article is a must read. Read the full story on Small Farmers Big Change
New legislation is being considered in Europe with regards to the popular chemical sweetener, aspartame. The proposal would require warning labels on products containing aspartame stating that they may not be suitable for pregnant women. Specifically, the label would read: “Contains aspartame (a source of phenylalanine; might be unsuitable for pregnant women).”
The push to enact this labeling stems from two new aspartame studies. The first is a Danish study (Halldorsson et al., 2010) which examined the association between consuming artificially sweetened soft drinks and preterm delivery. The study concluded that, “Daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm delivery…” The second, was an Italian study (Soffritti et al., 2010) which confirmed that aspartame is a carcinogenic agent in both male mice and rats (the same group conducted other rodent/aspartame studies in 2006 and 2007 both of which concluded that aspartame is a carcinogen). Despite the outcomes of these two new studies, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and France’s Agency for Food Safety maintain aspartame is safe and that warning labels are not needed.
Why is it that most government policies basically say, prove to us that the additive is harmful, when it should instead be, prove to us that this additive is safe? Even if research is conducted proving an ingredient safe, new studies should be viewed as equally important in determining if an ingredient continues to be safe. Technology changes, new advances are made, larger and more extensive studies are conducted. I suppose I should be impressed that any arm of a government is supporting adding warning labels since we, here in the US, are nowhere near the European levels of consumer food protection. Instead, I find myself wondering how many more studies it will take before aspartame is treated like a harmful chemical not suited for human consumption.
Image: David Salafia via Flickr
Check out our new flowchart and in your comment, tell us what sweetener you ended up on. Click on the image below to see the full flowchart and to get the embed code to add it to your site.