You Are What You Don’t Know…

Combing through old blogs, reviews and new articles and admittedly being at a loss for what to go with this week (and being a bit lazy), I am deciding to re-Facebook a comment I made to my friend a few days ago. We were discussing what is in the food you eat that you think you know but really don’t. This friend coincidentally sells nutrition products (marketed as weight loss to be honest) and stands by them regardless of any reasoning not to. I only offered my comment after it was solicited (after reading it, ask yourself if you really think I’d write all that if it wasn’t?). They are quick to tell me that their products don’t contain castoreum (a natural vanilla flavor made from anal glads of beavers) or any corn molecules but they have no idea, to be honest. It’s all just a higher up telling them that their company is acting in the highest moral sense and then my friend passes it along verbatim (maybe ad nauseam?) to the customers. After reading this, they responded that “their products don’t contain corn,” like it was memorized. Seriously, who honestly knows a product doesn’t contain corn molecules? Really?

What follows fits the articles here nicely. My aim has always been to cook food I enjoy, but followed by getting people to think for themselves (especially regarding food). I won’t be dogmatic past that and will just post…

“You said you were interested to hear, soooo here goes…

Okay so I’m just gonna take a simple vitamin as an example. While some supplements are far worse, this one is pretty simple by comparison and it’s something we all use. Vitamin C has been heralded as the cure to everything from cancer to the common cold. Since you said “supplements” (this is a broad category and Vitamin C fits the definition) and I said “some”, this reply meets the requirement for relevancy to your original reply. Since we are not talking about the sprayed-on vitamins that companies use to boost the vitamin content to meet the old RDA standards – vitamins that are removed and broken down as a result of the heating and extruding process in nearly all processed foods, but supplements – I have to add a few things. One is that those same vitamins that most people take as supplements ARE the same as the aerosolized vitamins made in labs. The second, is that these processes have been going on a long time for many of the “supplements” we all take since the late 1800’s thanks to our two friends Christiaan Eijkman and Casimir Funk (I didn’t make those two guys names up, I swear).

Okay so vitamin C. We think of cherries and oranges right? The actual truth is most Vitamin C on our store shelves are made from genetically modified food AND OR synthesized and produced from noxious petrochemicals. This is undoubtedly a result of our society’s belief (but hopefully changing) that you can eat bad and take supplements to overcome the deficiencies (the answer is to eat right from the beginning, but I am digressing again and that’s another rant). Most Vitamin C on store shelves is made from corn. Yes Virginia, that GMO corn, but that’s another blog yet again.

Most vitamins are, not surprisingly, made in China. Most US plants that used to produce vitamins have either moved or gone out of business. The only vitamin plant remaining in the US is a DSM beta-carotene plant in Freeport, Texas. Yes, that’s the Freeport many of us know as a chemical super center. The fact that the DSM vitamin plant pumps out as many toxins as it’s Roche neighbor goes unnoticed when it’s other Freeport neighbors are Dow, BASF and Conoco Philips. It’s not surprising to note that many of the world’s vitamin plants can be traced back to chemical companies like Monsanto, Conoco Philips and Dow.

The last remaining Vitamin C plant was located in New Jersey and closed it’s doors iin 2005. Located a just a few miles from a high school, the Roche vitamin plant, which was brewing different chemicals and emitting large amounts of hazardous air pollutants like methanol, chloroform and toluene, was fined by the EPA and State of New Jersey. After being implicated in a vitamin price fixing scheme, Roche became unattractive to investors and was ultimately sold to DSM and the US void was then subsequently filled by the Chinese. Although China has been implicated in many scandals regarding food processing in recent years, with the exception of the 2007 melamine scandal, China has not been  implicated in any incidents regarding vitamins to my knowledge.

Deep inside the food processing world, you will find that most Vitamin C is made from the fermentation of corn. Corn fermentation is the less expensive form of the outdated vitamin chemical synthesis, which in itself is the thing chemical engineers dream of like the rest of us dream of unicorns and cotton candy. The process has about 10 steps which included other sub-steps. This, in and of itself, is not absurd considering the amount of processing that goes on in most of the civilized world’s industrialized food.

The process begins without any actual corn, corn syrup, corn kernels or even ears of corn or husks. Instead, it starts with sorbitol, a a sugar alcohol made commercially by using enzymes and a hydrogenation process to rearrange corn molecules. Although the fermentation does not pollute the air as bad as it’s chemical synthesis brother, it has been shown to cause water pollution in certain studies. Once the sorbitol s made, the chemical fermentation starts with adding bacteria and after more molecular rearranging, makes sorbose. Sorbose is then mixed with a GM bacteria to make 2-ketogluconic acid, which is then treated with hydrochloric acid to make basic ascorbic acid. After that, it’s purified, filtered and milled into a fine white powder which is then transported to be sprayed into your food as an additive or compressed into Vitamin C capsules among other things. It is important to note that Vitamin C is not used only as a “vitamin”, but food and chemical companies like to use it for it’s preservative qualities as well as other reasons.

While the GMO angle is being argued, the fact that almost all Vitamin C comes from GMO corn is an ongoing issue as well. Your own reading can turn up several volumes on that discussion alone. Also, my newest reading about the effects and benefits from Buffered Vitamin C versus Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C suggests that the highly processed (though far cheaper) Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C may be far less healthy than previously thought. Some people even suggest that the Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C version is nearly worthless in many ways as a health supplement and isn’t really even Vitamin C at all.

While I posted ONLY about Vitamin C, the same is true (and worse in some cases) about most supplements (vitamins, herbs and minerals). Recently a study was conducted about supplements from overseas. They found that most all supplements tested DID NOT contain the advertised product but contained cheap fillers such as soybean, rice and wheat. While my background is is food and nutrition, I never post this stuff to get people to believe what I believe – I only want people to research, read and learn for themselves instead of just listening to what some person or body of people tell them.

As with any food, I always say hey, maybe things like hydrochloric and 2-ketogluconic acid and growth hormones aren’t categorically hurting you, but they certainly aren’t unquestioningly helping you. I apologize for any spelling errors and have not included footnotes, but I was in a hurry. Sources: UMMC, OCA, M. Warner ISBN 978-1-4516-6673-1 PP 74-96, BMC Medicine 2013, 11:222  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-222, et al.”

That’s it really, except for some good-natured back and forth. Interesting to note that their totally serious response was (I’m not kidding) “I’ll have to get back to you on this, after I ask the someone else.” Sigh.