What’s in Your Food?

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When I was diagnosed with stage four cancer, five years ago, my diet changed drastically. I went from vegetarian to vegan over night, and read labels on packaged foods for the first time. I researched which foods were the best to eat to have optimum health. Before that, I figured food is food. If it was for sale, it was safe to eat. That’s why we have government agencies who inspect what we eat and they would never approve something that ended up making us sick. That was then and this is now. Unfortunately corporations help create the laws that are supposed to keep us safe. Its the fox watching the hen house and you know who benefits from that.

I learned so much these past five years and the number one lesson is; it’s up to me to do my homework, read ingredients and decide for myself what is healthy for me. I learned to ask questions. Lots of them, especially when I eat out (which is not often). I ask if the food is organic. Does it contain GMOs? For example a friend told me about a new vegan pizza place. She said it was terrific. At first, I was excited. I like pizza, but before I went there, I called and asked if the soy they used is organic or GMO free. The owner said, “I’m sorry our soy is not GMO free or organic.”  That’s all I needed to know. No vegan pizza for me.

Just because it’s vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. The vegan pizza is a good example. There is plenty of vegan junk food out there. When I was vegetarian (before my cancer diagnosis) I thought I was eating healthy. It never dawned on me that I needed to eat REAL fruits and veggies (and lots of it) to be a healthy vegetarian. Processed foods have all the good stuff processed out and some of them do have vitamins put back in, but wouldn’t you rather eat something right from Mother Nature? No additives. No chemicals. I know I do.

Before you toss that favorite processed food or bag of Doritos in your grocery cart, read the label. If you can’t pronounce any of the ingredients put it back on the shelf. If it contains anything made from soy or corn, including corn syrup, put it back. That includes corn starch. There is an new GMO free corn starch made by Hodgson Mill that I use. Look for GMO free verified on the label. More and more food companies are changing their food suppliers to GMO free, not because they care about your health, they want your money.

gmo free corn starch

And be sure to limit the amount of processed foods you eat. Fresh foods are better for you because they are “living” food. That’s why they eventually spoil. Anything living will deteriorate. It normal. Food was not meant to outlive you.

Be well and read labels, ask questions,

Inge

 

 

 

 

The 411 About Supplements Part 2

Larg3_24_2009Chinese-Herbs

The post “The 411 About Supplements,”  which I wrote a couple of days ago, provided a link to another website that explained how vitamins and supplements are made. What caught my attention was finding out that 70% of vitamin C is made in China. Vitamin C is made from corn or soy, gmo corn and soy. That bothers me. China not only sells us vitamins made from genetically modified ingredients, it has a reputation for selling us products contaminated with lead. Did I mention the vitamin C is made from gmo corn and soy?

What else is hiding in our supplements and herbs? Who is looking out for us, the consumer? Last February GNC was one of the companies busted for selling fake herbs. How long had that been going on before the FDA found out? I thought GNC was one of the good guys.

I Googled my question and found an article in Mother Earth Living Magazine, titled, ” 5 Herbal Supplement Companies You Can Trust.”  I read what the author had to say and then researched each brand myself. When it comes to health, I don’t trust any one source. There is too much fraud these days and not just about our food, but that’s another post.

I contacted most of the companies directly on their list and asked them, “Are the raw materials used in your herbs and supplements from China? And how do you guarantee they are safe?” The following are their responses:

I asked my question on Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems Facebook page :

Rainbow Light sources raw materials from countries all over the world. Some ingredients, such as Traditional Chinese herbs, are available only from China. Regardless of the country of origin, all of our raw materials are tested for potency and/or identity where applicable, in addition to heavy metals, pesticides and micro’s. For certified organic materials, vendors must meet USDA organic certification standards and must pass audit by officially licensed certifying agencies, even if the material is grown or processed outside of US borders. Interestingly, Chinese law does not permit GMO’s in human food manufacturing, so China is seen as an emerging positive resource for companies looking to use non-GMO ingredients for their food and dietary supplement products.

Me: What? The last 3 sentences is what got me.  A year ago I wrote a post about a Chinese TV personality by the name of Mr. Cui, who is leading the march against  gmos in his country. After reading the response from RLNS,  I found an article in the Library of Congress that states, GMO foods have been around since 1997, starting with tomatoes. RLNS maybe uses organic materials, but the person answering my question has no clue, when it comes to China and their use of gmos.

I emailed NOW Foods and this was their response:

We source ingredients from all over the world including China. NOW audits its suppliers and thoroughly tests its raw materials to avoid supporting bad manufacturers while avoiding contaminated products.  We  test our ingredients for identity, purity, potency and safety (heavy metals, microbes, contaminants). We back up our testing with state-of the-art analytical, physical, sensory and microbiological laboratories here on-site. So, ingredients are tested in the US, encapsulated/tableted in the US and bottled in the US.  http://www.nowfoods.com/Quality/Are-Supplements-Safe/

Me: So they do test raw materials and their website says they are gmo free.

I found New Chapter online and found out they sold out to Proctor and Gamble in 2012. Enough said there.

Gaia Herbs:

Their herbs are organic and most of their plants are grown in the United States. I did not contact them because my questions were answered on their website.

I spoke to the customer service rep on the phone from Herb Pharm:

She told me that any raw materials they buy are sample tested for purity, no matter where they come from. China is one of the many countries they source from.

Barlean’s Organic Oils:

They are verified non gmo and that’s good enough for me.

Whole Earth Sea:

This company is based in British Columbia. They state their ingredients are non gmo, organic and grown in B.C. They seem to only sell in health food stores, so check and see if they are in a store near you. Amazon has online retailers who sell it, BUT I have read too many complaints from consumers who bought similar products that were counterfeit. I only buy books and CDs from Amazon. Actually, I did buy some kind of salve that was supposed to clear up my eczema and all it did was make it worse. The company who makes and sells it would not refund my money, but offered to give me another jar free of charge. If it didn’t work the first time, why would I use it again? When it comes to supplements, I buy direct from the manufacturer, in store, or from Vitacost.

Nature’s Sunshine:

You can either become a member to buy their herbs at a discount or buy from a distributor in your area. I talked with their customer service rep and he said they test the raw materials before using them in their products and yes, a lot of the herbs come from China. Many of the herbs they buy are certified organic, but there are also wild-crafted herbs mixed in, so they cannot use the organic certified seal. What are wild-crafted? Plants that grow naturally in the wild that are harvested.

Well, that’s pretty much the only ones I found (so far) online. I’m glad to know that most of the companies I researched do test raw ingredients. Since I get my nutritional needs met from eating mostly raw, organic foods, I don’t buy a lot of herbs and supplements. You can bet, I won’t buy vitamin C anytime soon. I’ll stock up on oranges instead.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that companies merge with bigger corporations all the time, so you must make sure the company you buy from today hasn’t changed ownership in the future. New Chapter was sold 2 months after they were in the magazine article. Yes, New Chapter is organic, but Proctor and Gamble paid a lot of money to stop gmos from being labeled. Why is that?  I don’t trust anyone who fights to keep us from knowing what’s in our food. I won’t buy anything they sell.  Also, just because a magazine or blogger says something is safe doesn’t make it true. You must do your homework!

Be well and stay informed,

Inge