We Are What We Eat

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Business, Current Affairs, David Brooks, Food and Drink, Science | Posted on 12-12-2008


by David Brooks

Someone once said, “You are what you eat.” They were correct. Unfortunately, we have become a nation that should be wearing yellow and red suits, big red shoes, and answer to the name Ronald. We all know the general trend in America has been to eat more, eat poorly, add unwanted pounds, which cause health problems that diminish the quality of life, etc, etc, etc. 

Recently food producers and consumers have been providing momentum to the health and wellness trend. Food manufacturers are the first step in wellness adoption, and consumers have been driving profound changes in how today’s food and beverage products are formulated, packaged, and sold.

Food is used as fuel for the body and pleasure for the tongue. People are learning that nothing will affect their health as significantly as what they put in their bodies. The Hartman Group has been tracking the shifts occurring in American’s food consumption for the past twenty years. In the late 20th century, consumers began to reject products they considered sugary or salty. The term ‘junk food’ was coined and attributed to items high in salt, sugar, or fat. Packaging began providing options such as “low fat,” “low sodium,” “fat-free,” and “sugar-free”

Now in the 21st century consumers have begun to take back there personal health and nutrition through better food and, unfortunately, a new found fondness for food additives. Research shows that more and more consumers are deliberately adding ingredients and nutrients to their daily diet. A recent wellness study concluded that the following ingredients are being added regularly by a substantial percent of the population:

  • 70% add fiber
  • 68% add Calcium
  • 61% add Protein
  • 59% add Whole Grains
  • 55% add Olive oil
  • 50% add antioxidants
  • 41% add fish oil or Omega 3 oils
  • 40% add Oat Bran

In the long term consumers want foods that will help them manage weight, lower cholesterol, fight cancer, and extend life. Whole grain breads, high fiber yogurt, brown rice are all good ideas and all beneficial. The one thing all have in common is additives and preservatives. 

In an effort to keep folks growing gardens naturally and organically I will leave you with this last bit of information. Preservatives have what are called negative organoleptic properties brought on by the metallic taste of some additives. Things with names like; potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and calcium chloride have a flavor, and it is not a pleasant flavor. Ingredients are actually added to ingredients to block acidity, bitterness, and astringency. Researchers want consumers to have a pleasant ‘taste event.’ These events have a beginning, middle, and end. Good R & D teams concern themselves with the full spectrum of the experience. So, food is enhanced with additives, which are protected with preservatives, which are flavor masked with more additives so the consumer can have a pleasant experience.

Read the back of any package in your cabinet and it will encourage you to get your shovels sharpened and the seeds ordered. Merry Christmas to all of you, and may God bless you and your gardens in the coming year.

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