Recently ABC News reported on “counterfeit” food. Sadly, a large portion of the food industry cares more about their bottom line than your health so many have resorted to some level of food fraud. According to CNN’s Eatocracy, faux food is on the rise. In fact, there is an entire database—the USP Food Fraud Database—devoted to providing information that can help assess existing and emerging risks and trends for economically motivated adulteration, fraud or counterfeiting issues for food ingredients.
In other words, there is reason to question what’s in the packaged prizes that we all consume! BUT (and this is a big one), who wants to scour ingredient labels? Who has the time to scrutinize every ingredient? Surely not the majority of us! So, I would like to announce that I am going to be your GOOD BRAND AMBASSADOR or GBA for short! Understanding “everything” about the food we consume is both my job and my passion and now as your official Good Brand Ambassador I will tip you off on the brands and products that that are doing everything or almost everything right and deserve to be singled out with the GBA seal of approval!
So, to give you a birds eye view into my magnifying glass, I start by looking out for ingredients that I call the Top Rated Terminators—things in our food (or being done to our food) that are unnecessary, potentially harmful and just not cool! Food and food products with these ingredients (whether fully or partially) don’t fly with me—but it is not so black and white. That’s why I am here to help you navigate and negotiate.
1. Chemical Preservatives
2. Artificial Flavors
3. Artificial Colors
4. Artificial Sweeteners
5. Sugar and It’s Many Euphemisms
6. Trans-Fats (Hydrogenated Oils)
8. Hormone Use in Foods
9. Antibiotic Use in Foods
10. Genetically Modified Foods
Where to start? Read your labels (and I mean the ingredient lists) and question where your ingredients from the flour to the flavors come from. A great resource for this is the iPhone App Don’t Eat That. If this is too much info (cause it is quite a bit), start with my list above (as things to limit or avoid), keep reading my blogs and tune into my new radio show, Stirring the Pot on Hamptons’ NPR WPPB 88.3 FM Monday’s LIVE at noon. As your GOOD BRAND AMBASSADOR (GBA) I will always have something to say about the quality of a food product (and my favorite ones) weekly! So, please stay tuned...
And, why should you trust me? As many of you may already know, my love for food and cooking began at three years old. My parents bought me a wooden play kitchen and when my grandmother visited, we played restaurant—each time I meticulously prepared her a tuna sandwich on white bread with a pickle while she patiently waited. I guess you can say that I have always had a love for the culinary arts. That was just the beginning…
Suffering from asthma, allergies, recurring bronchitis and pneumonia shaped much of my childhood and I was determined to find an alternative to the multiple inhalers, allergy meds, steroids and antibiotics I regularly consumed. In a nutshell, the medications that were supposed to be helping me were also destroying me. Based on my experience as a summer chef in my local Montauk health foods café, I discovered ways I could use food to help me heal. Challenged to the core, but finally getting well, this marked the start of my life’s work.
So, having immersed myself in this world of food, nutrition and health since the ripe age of fifteen, I have been there, done that—raw, vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, special medical diets including cleanses and yes (ashamed to say so) even fad diets. Let’s call it my years of necessary research. As a result, I am proud to say that I have become a true moderationist—I don’t follow any one food theory or fad, I don’t eat 100% organic, I eat some packaged foods and I eat not-so-healthy foods once in a while (potato chips are my vice and even the occasional gummy bear). But at the same time, I practice no-nonsense nutrition—meaning I don’t buy into any of the hype; I believe in real food, not phony food and I tell it like it is, always coming from a place of facts and basic logic.
With this in mind, I am quite jaded when it comes to food products. I have been scrutinizing labels and ingredients for almost twenty-eight years now and with all due respect I can sniff “shit” from a mile away. Now, I am not going to get all preachy and tell you to eat whole foods all of the time—that is virtually impossible for the majority of this nation. But I am going to ask you to start thinking about the ingredients in your food and the story behind them (as in, where do they come from and how are they manufactured to make food)! Don’t you want to know more about what you are putting in your body? Food is your fuel, so make it “premium” most of the time. And surely keep an eye and ear out for the brands I stand by!
Let’s keep this conversation going. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions. I would love to hear from you!