7 Foods the Experts Won’t Touch

image via Care2

Where do the chefs eat when they have a night off? That’s where you want to go. In the market for a new computer? Ask the head of your company’s IT department what he uses at home. If you knew what toothpaste your dentist’s family uses, you’d probably buy it too.
The skinny, the scoop, the inside track—that’s what you want.

Experts from a variety of food-related fields have made these 7 insider recommendations of foods to avoid. They’re based on professional wisdom and expertise, but more importantly, they represent personal choices. None are banned in the U.S.; they’re all USDA or FDA approved, but those in the know won’t eat them, and they won’t feed them to their own families.

1.Conventional Apples
The grafting techniques of conventional apple growers demand some of the most extensive pesticide usage in all of agriculture. While chemical producers and regulators duke it out over the residue, Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group, buys organic only. When that’s not feasible, then peel the apples and wash up well afterwards.

2.Canned Tomatoes
The resin linings of cans contain bisphenol-A, what we know as BPA. It’s a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The acidity of tomatoes causes a large amount of BPA to leach out of the lining and into your food—so much that the BPA level from just a few cans’ worth of tomatoes is enough to have a health impact. Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist and bisphenol-A scholar at the University of Missouri, won’t touch them.

3.Microwave Popcorn
Actually, the popcorn is fine. The microwavable bag is another story. Its lining is coated with chemicals that, when heated, vaporize and migrate to the popcorn. One of those chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid, accumulates in your body for years and is linked to infertility, liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. It’s such a known threat that DuPont and other manufacturers will phase it out by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan. Dr. Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, won’t be indulging until then.

4.Farmed Salmon
Dr. David Carpenter is the director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and a leading authority on contamination in fish, and he won’t go near farmed salmon. Commercially farmed salmon is raised in packed pens and fed an unnatural diet of  soy, poultry litter, antibiotics, and chicken feathers. Contaminants in those items include carcinogens, PCBs, flame retardants, and nasty pesticides like dioxin and DDT. These substances are so concentrated in the fish that Dr. Carpenter says you increase your risk of cancer after just two salmon dinners in a year. Since there are no remaining commercial fisheries for wild Atlantic salmon, Dr. Carpenter sticks with Pacific salmon, like wild-caught Alaskan.

5.Conventional Potatoes
Conventional potatoes are chemically dosed three time: fungicides during the growing season; herbicides before harvesting; and a second herbicide after after they’ve been picked to keep them from sprouting. Since potatoes grow underground, they can’t be sprayed directly. Instead, the chemicals are put into the water and soil where they’re absorbed into the flesh of the potatoes. You can’t washing and peel them away. According to Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board and farm director of the Rodale Institute, potato growers “say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

6.Grain-fed Beef
A cow’s steady diet of corn and other grains is, simply put, unnatural. Their multi-chambered stomachs are built for grass, and have never adapted to the corn and soybeans of the feedlots, so favored by most cattle ranchers because they are cheaper than pastured grazing and can fatten a cow for slaughter much more quickly. The feedlot environment, combined with the lack of adaptation in digestion, makes grain-fed cattle vastly more disease prone than grass-fed, and the bacteria they pass to beef eaters is much more dangerous. Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of numerous influential books on sustainable farming, would never, ever allow grain-fed beef to cross his lips.

7. Hormone-treated Milk
Most dairy cows are fed artificial growth hormones to increase milk production, and that milk contains elevated levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF). Unless the milk is organic or explicitly labeled hormone-free, it’s in there. IGF  is linked to breast, prostate, and colon cancers, and while the exact mechanism in milk is not clear, Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society points out that the hormones are banned in nearly every other industrialized nation.

 

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11 Responses to 7 Foods the Experts Won’t Touch

  1. Pingback: 7 Foods the Experts Won’t Touch | Truly Buddhist

  2. Wow this a good to know. I eat conventional apples every day. I’ll need to make the switch over to organic apples instead.

  3. Janice says:

    Chris,
    The issues around everyone of these foods are well-documented in medical and scientific communities, but the real reason that I didn’t include the readily available is that I was interested in shedding light on the personal practices of individuals. While they are professionals in food, medical, and scientific fields, it’s their experience, instincts, and hunches I was going after. We can all read the research data, but I wanted to hear what their gut was telling them.

  4. Chris says:

    Awful lot of claims for an article without a single reference. If the lining of popcorn bags is being phased out by EPA plan doesn’t that mean it is likely an environmental problem resulting from the packaging rather than a health issue?

  5. Brittany says:

    You’re right Janice. We can only do so much. Sorry for all of the profanity. I was having a bad day.

  6. Janice says:

    We all just do what’s right for us personally. I hoped to inform, not preach. In my opinion, it’s better to have the information and work with it as you choose.

  7. Brittany says:

    You know, once you think you are starting to eat the right things you read shit like this. It’s a losing battle. It kind of angers me because how the hell am I supposed to know this shit about my food and at what store should I be shopping? One cannot simply give up apples, salmon, and potatoes from the average supermarket. And I don’t live within driving distance of a farmer’s market.

  8. Janice says:

    Aseptic packaging is a mix of paper, polyethylene, and aluminum. Polyethylene is traditionally made from plastic, which is never good for the environment, and is a suspected carcinogen, though nowhere near the toxicity of BPA. Manufacturers are moving toward natural, bio-derived polyethylene made from sugar cane, wheat, or sugar beets.

  9. Jen says:

    I was wondering about those boxed tomatoes. Is there any chance their is plastic lining the box?

  10. Pingback: Canned Soup | Gigabiting

  11. Monet says:

    I’m so happy that I don’t eat a single item on this list. I buy boxes of tomatoes now. I can find them at Whole Foods. Thank you for sharing, sweet friend!

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