A while back I visited Duke Clinic and Hospital, and was shocked to see:
Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream booth
I wanted to throw something at the genius who decided that a hospital to maintain food outlets that serve the very foods that make millions of Americans ill, be it obesity, heart disease, etc.
Is genuineness that unpopular? Like right now, I am on the first floor of the library and in front of me are General Mills fliers inviting people to apply for Marketing and Brand Management careers. General Mills calls itself “The Company of Champions”.
The let’s-see-how-we-can-sell-more-of-our-many-unhealthy-products champions? They manage Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Hamburger Helper, and frankly, they have done an excellent job of brand management. If I were delusional, Betty Crocker makes me think of a happy looking lady in a warm kitchen pulling cookies out of the oven. The Pillsbury Doughboy looks harmless (but is should be put in the oven and then composted because it is probably full of preservatives and other things I cannot pronounce) and makes that cute sound. The Hamburger Helper has four fingers (no comment) but it has a big red nose, so I guess that makes everything better.
Here are the ingredients of a champion Betty Crocker dessert, called Warm Delights Brownie Mix, “Hot Fudge Brownie”: Sugar, Enriched Flour Bleached, Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Semisweet Chocolate Chips, Chocolate Liquor, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Corn Starch, Dried Egg Whites, Corn Syrup Solids, Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides, Artificial Flavor, Nonfat Milk, BHT to Preserve Freshness, Sugar, Sweetened Condensed Skim Milk, Condensed Skim Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Butter, Chocolate Liquor, Vinegar, Modified Corn Starch, Disodium Phosphate, Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Alginate, Potassium Sorbate Preservative, Mono and Diglycerides, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavor.
Why does something as simple as the beloved brownie need all that? I am no chemistry major, but the hydrogenated stuff indicate the presence of lovely trans fats…then there’s the artificial flavoring; I guess some of us don’t mind fake food stuff…what the heck are distilled monoglycerides, English please…well, okay, I just looked it up and they are used to increase viscosity, which is the resistance of a fluid to deform under shear stress…what is “shear stress” I have to look that up too? (FYI, I am not saying that you are a bad person if you work for General Mills—you can easily work for them and try to bring genuineness back.)
So if all that stuff is rather blah, then at least the chocolate must be good for you, right? Chocolate has flavonoids, which, according to WebMD, “keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries.” Great! But wait…the brownie mix has “cocoa processed with alkali.” Bad news. UC San Francisco and other sources say:
“Standard manufacturing of chocolate destroys about a quarter to half of its flavonoids.”
Ironically, Mars, the maker of M&Ms, Snickers and Twix, has been investing millions of dollars in flavonoid research for more than a decade. Flavonoids good for you, flavonoids in chocolate, let’s make some $$$. $$$ yummy $$$ <3 $ <3 $ yum ka-ching ka-ching$$$
Mars also happens to make the Milky Way bar. According to their website:
What are the ingredients in MILKY WAY®?
MILKY WAY® Original Bar ingredients: milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk, chocolate, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, skim milk, less than 2% milkfat, cocoa powder processed with alkali, lactose, malted barley, wheat flour, salt, egg whites, artificial flavor, soy protein.
MILKY WAY® Midnight ingredients: semisweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate processed with alkali, cocoa butter, chocolate, milkfat, soy lecithin, vanilla extract, artificial and natural flavors), corn syrup, sugar, skim milk, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, less than 2% – butter, milkfat, lactose, salt, egg whites, soy protein, vanilla extract, artificial flavor.
Sweet. I listed some of my favorite ingredients, and surprise (or lack thereof), there’s alkali. This is exhausting.
To tie all this back to the lovely Duke Hospital eateries, why is there a vending machine in Carleton’s recreation center? The last time I checked, it is filled with sugary sodas like Mountain Dew (helps to energize before and rejuvenate after a workout?), Doritos, Lay’s, Fritos, Pop Tarts, Oreos, Twix, Snickers, Jolly Ranchers—a cornucopia of healthy things. Maybe it’s just me, but such edibles and exercise don’t seem to go together. If it’s not just me, maybe we can get the rec center to get rid of it, or at least fill it with healthy nutrition bars, at least half of the machine? Or is this being a food nazi? Is this infantilizing rational adults? I suppose it’s all relative (hence, viewpoint).
Let us read labels and try to find out the sources of our foods and the companies’ ethics. Knowledge is, after all, power!!! Do not give in to corporate tactics to deprive us of our health AND our money! Sound cliché? Too bad. Corporations like Coca-Cola and Kellogg spend millions advertising to children to create brand loyalty and get them hooked on the sugar and junk, and we were once those children. Let us not eat something just because it is cheap or it is lying around. We are not livestock, although some companies seem to think we are. Respect your body. You only have one.