I've been doing research for my next book in the series The Frugal Way, Smart Grocery Shopping.
Research, you say. On groceries?
Food is a lot scarier than any horror story you'll read in fiction. Did you know that in any given grocery store, the majority of packaged foods are made up primarily of six foodstuffs, corn being the number one ingredient?
I thought this was crazy-talk at first. How do you get cheese out of corn?
Apparently, the boys and girls in the lab have been busy extracting key components, primarily from corn and soybeans, and introducing them into the food chain as...FOOD.
The vegetable itself isn't used for food, but rather the molecular chain they extract out of it, producing sugars, starches, and gums. Look at the ingredients list on any processed food. Those words you can't pronounce? Those are very likely corn or soybean extracts.
Good for replacing nutrients and adding filler to processed foods. Not so good for health.
And you can't get away from it--not from the grocery stores and certainly not when you eat out. These ingredients are in virtually everything.
This leaves you with one of three choices. Grow your own food. Avoid all processed foods. Shop certified organic stores.
I'm no doctor, but I wonder if people would have less migraines, diabetes, and high blood pressure if they avoided these processed foods all together.
I don't think the derivatives themselves are harmful (in small doses), it's the fact that processed foods are artificially 'stuffed' with these extracts rather than actual food. These derivatives are what add flavor, bulk and preservatives.
Why is it so hard to get away from processed foods? It comes down to two very insidious reasons.
1. The extracts make the food taste good. The sweetness and fat are palatable to our taste buds.
2. It makes food incredibly cheap. In the US, we have become so efficient at producing corn that we can undercut anyone in the world. That's why you can buy a burger for a dollar. The corn grown to raise that beef and create the preservatives in that bread is so cheap, the fast food chains can make their burgers for pennies.
If you were to raise your own cow, grow your own wheat, lettuce, cucumber, tomato and mustard seed, that hamburger would be outrageously expensive. The agri-giants have lulled us so deep into complacency that we don't even question how our food is made--until someone dies and it makes the evening news.
My book on Smart Grocery Shopping is about saving money at the grocery store, but I couldn't write it until I researched why you can get certain products so cheap.
It's a double-edged sword--one few of us can avoid.
If you'd like to learn more about where your food comes from, I suggest watching the documentary, Food, Inc. (on Netflix) or reading Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food.
Even though I'm not using much of this research in the actual writing of my Smart Grocery Shopping book, it gave me a base of knowledge so I could write the book more intelligently.
Have you ever wondered about our food supply? Or are you too afraid to ask? I wouldn't blame you. Very scary stuff.
Smart Grocery Shopping should be ready in March. If you haven't picked up Smart Budgets for Busy People, you might want to start with that first.
Oh, and don't forget there's a companion Facebook page for The Frugal Way series. I regularly post freebies, discounts and the occasional frugal tip.
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