I have a pet peeve: people complaining about food having “chemicals” in it. Three of my co-workers have done this in the past few weeks. I can’t really blame them, though–some foods are actually advertised as being “chemical-free”. I wonder how that works.
See, everything is composed of chemicals. So having them in your food is not inherently good or bad. It really boils down to what the chemicals are, and how they interact with the chemicals naturally occurring in the human body.
Then I read about this lady named Vani Hari, who calls herself the “Food Babe“, and who has been blogging about the pernicious influence of chemicals in food. She’s even succeeded in getting stores and restaurants to pull some from their shelves.
But there’s been a backlash against her–people saying she has no scientific basis for her claims. She responds by saying these people are shills for the powerful food chemical industry.
What I know from skimming her blog is that she seems to equate ‘processed” with “bad for you”. While it’s true that there are probably preservatives and such that are used in some foods that do have harmful effects, I also don’t think you can just say “oh, that food is processed! It’s not good.” Cooking food is processing it, and that’s been a major development in human evolution.
I think there are a lot of things wrong with some of the commonly-available foods, and some of Hari’s advice is good. (Avoiding McDonald’s, for example–their food is dreadful.) But I think some of the other stuff she says is built more on irrational fears of “chemicals’ than on concrete issues.
Water is a chemical, duh. Blanket bogeymen are the bane of sanity. Is whipped cream better than cool whip, which is made up of stuff that is unpronounceable? Yes. Butter better than margarine? Yes. Cheese better than processed yellow slices on the hamburger? A world better yes. To eat healthy anymore is getting tougher all the time.
Then you get type 2 diabetes and nothing with taste or in your income bracket is good for you.
My rule of thumb is “if it tastes good and costs less than $5, it is probably bad for you”.