Monday, July 5, 2010

Trust No One

"Trust no one." You hear that a lot in action, suspense, and espionage films. But that adage could just as easily apply to any individual or corporation hawking food products. When will I learn?

The husband and I stopped at Farm & Fleet this weekend to get the flat wheelbarrow tire repaired. As we entered the store, a woman was offering samples of a Sprecher-brand soft drink. Normally I would have passed the samples by, but she indicated they were "all natural" sodas, made with ingredients like honey, cherry, and vanilla. Wow, I thought, that sounds great! I tasted the cherry cola, and it was really good: smooth, foamy, just the right amount of sweet, lots of cherry flavor. We bought a four-pack of the cherry cola and a four-pack of the orange.

On the way home, the husband asked me what the ingredients were, so I took a look at the label, expecting to see "all natural" ingredients. Here are the ingredients for the Cherry Cola that I found so delicious, in order of presentation on the label:

Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, WI Door County Cherry Juice, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Citric Acid, WI Raw Honey and Sodium Benzoate (Preservative).

I have used italics in the ingredients list to indicate what does not appear to be "all natural." First, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is bad, bad, BAD! And not natural. Artificial flavors are, by their very definition, not natural (hence, why they are called artificial), and arguably natural flavors aren't natural if you have to add them! Citric acid by itself has been through an extraction process--not natural. and who knows what sodium benzoate is--but I know it doesn't usually grow in the garden.

The Orange Dream soda ingredients are even more disconcerting in their unnaturalness:

Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Maltodextrin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, WI Raw Honey, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Vanillin, Quillaia/Yucca Extract, FD&C Yellow #6 and FD&C Red #40.

Most of the offending ingredients here are the same as those in the cherry cola, but this drink actually adds two dyes.

It's my own fault; I should have read the labels before purchasing the items. I trusted an individual who used a term I wanted to hear: "all natural." Unfortunately, her idea of "all natural" and my idea of "all natural" are clearly at odds with one another.

When it comes to food ingredients, it is probably best to adhere to the motto "Trust no one." Read the label for yourself. And, in fact, if it has a label, it's probably not good for you.

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