I am often asked how I came up with the title of my book. Truth be told, the title reflects exactly what I think (though “Fork” is a nicer way of saying it) when I watch a large percentage of the population eat, when I see food products in the marketplace, when I read (or am interviewed) for articles on line or in print and when I listen to “experts” on television talk the talk. Now I don’t say that in judgment, rather with utter sadness that many people don’t know better when it comes to food.
In June I was invited on the Eclectic Café with Bonnie Grice and she asked if I could shed a little light on a What The Fork Are You Eating Moment. So folks, here are a few worth mentioning…
Watching People Eat
A few years ago I was at my son’s hockey game and I observed a mother pouring red Gatorade into a baby bottle for her 18 month old. Now if you don’t think there is anything wrong with that, check out a Rainbow of Risks by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and you will most likely never let your kid touch anything with food dye again! Of course I kept my mouth shut but sadness laced through me as I thought that this mother probably doesn’t know any better.
Food Products in the Marketplace
More recently while on vacation with my family PepsiCo was handing out newbie “healthy juice” samples to children and their grown-ups at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. A young man handed my 8-year old a small bright green bottle touting the health benefits of a low sugar juice for kids. My husband stepped in (I was indisposed) and quickly read the ingredients and said to the gent, “I am not sure how healthy this juice drink can be when I noticed two artificial sweeteners in the ingredient list.” Even so, my husband took the bottle with the intention of giving it to me for review prior to our son drinking it. And here is what the ingredient label of this “healthy juice” called Fruit Shoot read:
Water, Apple Juice from Concentrate. Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Malic Acid, Natural Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Acesulfame K, Sucralose.
Do you know that both Acesulfame K and Sucralose (aka Splenda) are artificial sweeteners? And the first is suspected to cause cancer while the second is questionable due to potential DNA damage and increased incidence of bowel disease. Not sure about you, but I wouldn’t want my kids touching either.
Coincidentally, a couple of weeks after this PepsiCo incident I saw Indra Nooyi, the CEO of this beverage giant on NBC’s Today Show talking about balancing work with motherhood. Apparently Nooyi has quite a bit of “mom guilt” over her corporate climb. I get it. Totally understandable, but I think Nooyi is utterly misguided—this seemingly intelligent woman has no conscience over the products she commands at PepsiCo. And for that she is truly guilty. I will never be able to get my head around food producers who put potential poison in packages for people to consume, especially when targeted at children.
Several years ago I received a phone call from a journalist wanting to interview me for an article on the gluten-free diet. She specifically wanted to talk with me about the health benefits of gluten-free flours and how they are more health supportive than gluten containing flours. Truth be told you can’t say that a potato flour (gluten-free) is healthier that a whole wheat or barley flour (both gluten-containing). I shared my thoughts (and expertise) with the writer and she proceeded to argue with me—I guess I was bursting her bubble (or her story). I told her that I refuse to be a part of an article that touts the gluten-free diet as the panacea for all.
Folks, please get your food and nutrition information from truly credible sources like peer-reviewed journals, trusted nutrition newsletters like Nutrition Action and Environmental Nutrition or from other fact-based sources like Mother Jones Magazine and the Huffington Post.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have told this story, but many years ago the nutrition expert on a popular morning show was talking about healthy breakfasts. Of the many options, whole-wheat pita with peanut butter was one of them. Sounds good to me! Then right before my eyes, a jar of Skippy peanut butter flashed across the screen. Now at the time Skippy did not have a “natural” version so the one with sugar and hydrogenated oils was center stage, surely not the epitome of health. Enraged, I not only called the network to complain but also did a little recon to find that this nutritionist was a spokesperson for Unilever (the company that owned Skippy at the time). Translated, don’t trust everything you hear, even from the experts, as interests aren’t always authentic.
Trust me when I say that there are plenty more where this came from. Do you have any What The Fork Are You Eating Moments? If so, please share with me on FaceBook or Twitter. I would love to know—as for every problem there is a solution and perhaps I can shed some light.