I have always been determined to never ask what is in a hot dog – or, corndog for that matter. There are things that I would rather not know. Over the years our society has become more and more ignorant about how our food ends up on the shelves of grocery stores.
Up until this semester I was okay not knowing that my jar of pickles is on the FDA’s toxicity watch list, or that my coffee creamer causes colon problems in animals. I never thought that my sports drink could contain controversial artificial colors. I thought that natural meant just that.
Natural does not mean natural. In fact, it is an unregulated term meaning that no one really checks to see if the product is natural. So, that “natural” grape jelly is probably heavily processed and most likely contains high fructose corn syrup, which is not a healthy substitute. Just because the package says that the product is natural does not meant it is true.
Some cereals claim to be healthier for your diet and promise to help consumers lose weight. What consumers may be unaware of is that the grain in their cereals is actually refined, taking away important nutrients that could be found in whole grain foods.
When purchasing whole wheat bread, people need to be aware of what is in their bread. High fructose corn syrup, which was introduced in the United States in the 1970s, can be found in some bread products. High fructose corn syrup is used as a cheaper form of sweetener and has been linked with the rise in obesity in the United States. So, just because it seems healthy does not always mean it is.
In order to choose healthy bread the first ingredient should be whole grain and it should be 100% whole wheat, not just whole wheat. Also, beware of ingredient lists that are long, even if they are on a seemingly healthy product like 100% whole wheat bread. A long list of ingredients suggests that the product is heavily processed. Some ingredients include L-cysteine.
If I thought knowing what is in a hot dog would be bad, then I probably should not have looked up L-cysteine, an ingredient sometimes found in bread that is used as a dough conditioner. This ingredient often comes from human hair and/or duck feathers. Next time you are shopping for bread, check and see if L-cysteine is an ingredient.
So many people go about their day to day lives unaware of the food that they are putting in their bodies. They are unaware of what companies do to their chickens in order to create more meat. They are unaware of the illegal immigrants hired by companies, who in turn give up the immigrants’ location when they no longer need their work.
I never wanted to think about what went into my food. I had an idea that if I closed my eyes to it all, then the truth did not exist. Yet, my eyes were opened when I began to watch a series of documentaries for a class. The ones that stuck with me were the ones about food. I nearly threw up at one point when I watched how pigs were slaughtered.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has become a corrupt part of the government. The same people who lobbied for the rights of big meat companies now work for the FDA and companies test their food on a voluntary basis. How many big companies are going to turn in results? Especially bad ones?
Only recently have food products been required to have nutrition labels on their packages. Companies still are not required, however, to label their food as genetically engineered or as a genetically modified organism (GMO). So, people have no idea what they are actually serving their families. Unless you know how to look, you may never know if you can truly trust the food on the shelves of your supermarket.
Do people have a right to know what is in their food? Yes. Do people have a right to know what companies do to their food? Yes. And, yet no one has the information they need. It is required that anything organic be labeled as such with the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) seal of approval. The companies do not want you to know because then where would they get their money? Today there are four big beef-packers and they control 80% of the market. How fair is that? Not very fair at all.
Another unfair aspect of the food industry is the treatment of animals. Chickens are given chemicals in order to increase the size of their bodies. What happens, though, is that the chickens become unable to move around except for a few feet. Many chickens cannot handle the unnatural change in their body and die. Then live chickens wander around sick, dead chickens. Chickens that will end up in the freezer section of a grocery store. Chickens that will end up on your plate. Now, tell me, is that the kind of meat you want to purchase? Or, feed your children?
Cows are fed corn when they should be eating in pastures. Cows that eat corn can become infected with e coli. Then, the animals spread the bacteria to other cows because they all stand around their own feces, and the e coli is just waiting for its next victim.
Animals are not the only ones. Companies take advantage of illegal immigrants as well as those less well off financially. They hire the people who do not have the choice to complain. If the workers complain about the dead chickens littering the houses they could lose their job. No, the companies want the workers who are less likely to complain. They hire the people who cannot afford to challenge the system, the people they can control. So, the workers do the dirty work. The companies treat their workers almost as badly as they do the animals. The workers are the ones who slaughter pigs in an inhumane way. The workers are the ones who become infected by the diseases that the animals carry. The workers are the ones who are injured.
According to the documentary “Food, Inc.,” meat-packing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States.
This is not how companies should function. Animals should be fed a diet that actually is meant for them. Corn is cheap and easy to feed the animals. Yet, is the price of cheap food worth sick people? Or the recall of hundreds of pounds of meat?
After watching the videos I felt gross inside. I could not believe what I had been eating all along. Even when people think that they are being healthy, they really are not. Food claiming to be natural could still be heavily processed and filled with chemicals that the human body is not meant to deal with.
Everyone has the right to know what they are eating. If companies do not think that they are doing anything wrong then they should not hide from questions that society asks. They should not hide their chicken farms from curious people. If it is not that bad, then why keep it a secret?
We should not wait until diseases begin to infect us before we start asking questions. More actions should be taken in order to inform people about what they eat. People should have a choice.