The weekly food shop can sometimes be a daunting task, with so many varieties to choose from, we’re often spoilt for choice. Especially when foods are packaged up in inventive ways. But how much do we really know about the food we’re picking up and putting in our trolly? And more importantly, do we really understand the never-ending list of ingredients found in our food?
The food we put inside our bodies has a huge knock on effect to the way we look and feel. Natural, simple ingredients are key to living a healthy lifestyle, but it can be difficult to choose the right items as even the freshest looking food can be laced with preservatives to make it appear fresh and last longer.
A report, commissioned by the UK’s global food security programme revealed that up to two fifths of our fruit and vegetable crops are wasted because they are ‘ugly’ and fail to meet retailer standards. Supermarket chains and commercial food organisations lay the blame with us, for insisting we should have perfect looking food, which is one of the reasons preservatives are used.
Let’s be honest, if you picked up a fruit salad that had started to discolour would you put it in your trolly? Or would you put it back and grab a slightly fresher looking salad?
The likelihood is that even your fruit salad has been dipped in something to keep it appearing fresh and natural, as Joanna Blythman discovered when she gate-crashed a food ingredients trade show as research for her book Swallow This. She came across a stand with fruit laid out which was several weeks out of date, which looked as fresh as the day it had been made. It had been dipped in something called NatureSeal which adds 21 extra days to it’s shelf life. The salesman told Joanna the product was a triumph because NatureSeal was considered a processing aid, rather than an ingredient, so there is no need to declare it on the food label. Even when ingredients are declared on food labels 9 times out of ten, we have no idea what those words mean, or what the ingredients are.
We need to be vigilant when choosing our food. In some instances, man made preservatives can be harmful to us when eaten in large quantities. They can also be made from truly disgusting ingredients! We’ve compiled a list below of just a few to look out for:
L-cysteine is an amino acid which is derived from human hair and can be used as a dough conditioner for bread.
A red food colouring called Cochineal is used in sweets, juice, ice-cream, yoghurt which is derived from crushed, boiled and dried beetles.
Labeled as a ‘natural flavour’ with a sweet raspberry taste. Castoreum is actually made from beavers anal glands and can be found in ice-cream, baked goods, alcohol, and gelatine.
Tartrazine is a food colouring also known as yellow #5 which is used to make our food look more appealing. What is slightly unappealing about this though, is that tartrazine is derived from coal tar.
These are just a few of the nasties you’ll find lurking in your local supermarket. It’s good to know exactly what’s in your food so you can spot when pesticides, preservatives and general junk are snuck into your drinks and diets. It’s worth doing your research so you know exactly what you are putting your body through.
It’s a far more superior health choice, and much better for our planet. Keeping our juice as fresh and living as possible gives our customers a much greater health benefit. And most importantly we avoid pasteurisation and HPP that are often used to extend shelf life, which is why our juice has a shorter shelf life of 72 hours – and we’re proud of it!