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Eat Your Chemicals

Last night my husband stayed up until 2 a.m. baking brownies for my big girl’s school sharing feast. Apparently, the Native Americans gave the settlers chocolate as a gift, so we were assigned something chocolate. All the food at the feast has to be vegetarian — vegan preferred — but since we were baking we were allowed to use eggs and butter. I had purchased Cherrybrook Kitchen‘s fudge brownie mix. The ingredients are pretty basic: flour, cane juice, chocolate chips, brown sugar. However, we quickly realized that we weren’t going to have enough, so I set out to the all-night grocer. When I got there, I started reading the boxes.

What did I find? Dextrose, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cocoa Powder Processed With Alkali, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dextrose, Artificial Flavor, Gellan Gum. After ten minutes in the aisle I went for the Ghirardelli. At least it didn’t contain partially hydrogenated oil, and I knew it would taste really good. Still, I came home shaking my head.

I just don’t get it. With all the very well publicized news about the dangers of hydrogenated oil and artificial junk, you’d think the manufacturers would make the switch to healthier fare. I know some of them are catching on. We have been buying Trader Joe’s English muffins for a while now. Thomas’ English Muffins had high fructose corn syrup. However, now that the company switched to sugar, I’m back on the Thomas’ wagon! Thank you, Bimbos Bakeries. (Yes, that is really the company’s name!) Now when are you going to take that junk out of your Entenmann’s line?

But I digress. Getting back to my shopping trip, I must have looked at seven different brands last night. Everything that Pathmark carries. And every single one of them contained chemicals and crap. I’m lucky. I have a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods close by. I can buy mixes like No Pudge (Pure cane sugar, unbleached wheat flour, dutch cocoa, dark coffee, egg whites, cornstarch, wheat gluten, salt & baking soda), and Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix (Sugar, chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin [emulsifier], vanilla extract), unbleached enriched flour, dutch cocoa (processed with alkali), wheat starch, soybean oil, salt, leavening). I have choices, and really yummy ones at that. But the average consumer is left counting on the supermarket buyers and the manufacturers’ food developers to ensure their snacks are healthy.

But before you get too depressed, consider this: There is hope. The manufacturers want to make money. Look at how many of them have jumped on the organic bandwagon. If you don’t mind the chemicals, okay. But if you do, you do have recourse. You do have a chance at changing the status quo. Email or call manufacturers. Tell them that you don’t want chemicals and unhealthy ingredients in the treats you buy for yourself and your kids. Trust me, they are listening. (Another shout out to Bimbo Bakeries!)

Do you have an amazing brownie recipe you’d like to share? What’s your favorite healthy packaged mix? Does it even matter to you? Does once-in-a-while food affect your long-term health? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

4 Responses to “Eat Your Chemicals”

  1. susan delg says:

    Brownies from scratch are not difficult at all. When I have a choice, I make them that way. Same thing with pancakes — you can control what goes in, to the extent that you trust the bag of flour and the eggs that you’re buying. Unless we start our own organic farm, we’ll never know for sure that we’re eating as healthily as possible.

  2. MarthaandMe says:

    I love No Pudge, but most of the time I just make my own. THey’re really easy and Martha Stewart even has a one dish recipe that you bake in the skillet you mix it in that is so simple yet so good. I don’t buy any of those mixes at the grocery store.

  3. I get SO DISMAYED when I read ingredient lists, just as you describe here. I can’t believe the stuff we are feeding our children, and I don’t understand why people continue to buy what amounts to poison. It’s mind boggling. Thanks for writing about it.

  4. Chrystal says:

    I tend to make everything from scratch as well. It’s scary how many chemicals and additives are in nearly all processed and packaged foods. Unfortunately, most people aren’t educated on the harm they’re causing their bodies by consuming this junk. They see the pretty package and the flashy advertisement and they’re sold. Until the food manufacturing industry takes responsibility for what they’re putting on the shelves, we’ll continue to see people mindlessly consume these chemical-laden “foods.”

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