By Cat, Feb & Nov 2007
- See also: 1. Foods (About) Menu; 2. Whole Foods: What they Are, Which Are Not; 3. The EssentiaList: Butter vs Margarine
- Includes: 1. What Is a Man-Made (Manufactured) Food; 2. Examples of Man-Made Foods/Additives; 3. Comparison of Butter (Whole Food) and Margarine (Manufactured Food)
Our modern American culture is hooked on processed and fast foods; few individuals/families prepare their own meals from scratch like grandma used to do. Many people point to this fact as the main cause behind modern diseases like type-2 diabetes (and related metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance), heart disease (also part of metabolic syndrome), stroke, and certain types of dementia such as Alzheimers.
Manufactured foods are a big part of the problem.
What Is a Manufactured Food?
Manufactured foods are not whole foods. They are made, at least in part, in a lab or industrial facility, and CANNOT be made in a home kitchen. The manufactured processes:
- Treated to unnatural conditions: May start with a whole food (e.g., cow’s milk), but the end product no longer resembles the original (e.g., 1% ultra-pasteurized milk).
- Contains added chemicals: May add manufactured chemicals to natural foods, such as to preserve them, or enhance their flavor (e.g., crackers, chips with added preservatives)
- Extracted by unnatural conditions: May extract one part (e.g., corn oil) using industrial techniques, such as extremely high heat and/or pressure (as opposed to cold-press techniques used for olive oil, for example).
- Man-made solely from chemicals: Might start with pure chemicals which are then modified to resemble a natural food (e.g., margarine). These chemicals may have originated in a real food (corn oil, for example), but have subsequently been treated to industrial processes to extract and purify them.
- GMO/GE: May add genetically modified/engineered (GMO/GE) ingredients, or may come from a GMO plant or animal. This means that the DNA of the food item includes DNA from an unrelated organism or from a computer program. (e.g., GMO soy milk, GMO textured vegetable protein, GE corn chips, GE corn oil, etc.).
- Toxic packaging: May start with a whole food, but then is packaged in steel cans lined with a plastic film containing toxic bisphenol-A, which can leach into the food. Or the lead used to solder the can can leach into the food. OR wrapped in toxic plastic that may leach toxic chemicals into the food. [NOTE: Foods canned in glass jars do not have this issue]
Examples of Manufactured Foods
The following are examples of manufactured foods (The Roman numerals refer to the categories above). Note that there are far more examples than listed here.
- pasteurized, homogenized 1% fat milk (I and V)
- commercial white bread (II)
- frozen TV dinners (II)
- most commercial potato chips (II, III, V)
- salad oil, corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil (III)
- margarine (II, III, IV and V)
- instant chicken broth (IV)
- Commercial soybean oil (V)
- Fast Food Fried Chicken (I, II, III, V)
- commercially canned tomato sauce (II, IV, V, VI – if in metal cans or plastic jars)
- meats from animals fed an unnatural diet or GMO diet, and/or subjected to regular treatment with antibiotics to promote growth (II, V)
Comparison of Butter (Whole Food) with Margarine (Manufactured Food)
Let’s analyze and compare ingredients. The butter is Tillamook Salted Butter brand; the margarine is Shedds Country Crock brand (2). See also my article on The EssentiaList: Butter vs Margarine.
Butter: Butterfat, salt
Margarine: Liquid Soybean Oil And Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Whey (From Milk), Salt, Vegetable Mono And Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, (Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Disodium EDTA) Used To Protect Quality, Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A (Palmitate), Beta Carotene (Color) (2).
From these lists, you can see that margarine is a man-made food, made from modified natural ingredients and laboratory chemicals; butter is a whole food, simply made from butterfat (a.k.a. cream, which naturally separates from milk) and salt. Lets look more closely at the ingredients in margarine; where do they come from? Do they even come from food?
- Liquid soybean oil and partially hydrogenated soybean oil (a.k.a., trans-fats) are extracted from the original soybean, then processed (by partial hydrogenation and interesterification) to change the texture from a liquid oil to a solid, spreadable fat;
- Likewise, vegetable mono- and di-glycerides come from vegetable oil triglycerides that have been industrially interesterified (hydrolyzed to remove the fatty acids from the glycerol backbone, and then reconnected to that glycerol backbone) such that only 1 or 2 (and not 3) fatty acids connect to each glycerol;
- Soy lecithin is a waste product of soy oil production; most is from GMO soy (3);
- Potassium sorbate and calcium disodium EDTA are chemical salts made in an industrial facility;
- Citric acid is a natural preservative found in fruits but most food-grade citric acid is produced by cultures of a mold (Asergillus Niger) feasting on sucrose (4);
- They don’t tell us just what the ‘artificial flavor’ is derived from, but you can bet it isn’t good for you;
- Beta Carotene is a form of vitamin A. While it can be derived from plant foods such as carrots, most food-grade carotenes are made synthetically through fermentation by a fungus (Blakeslea trispora) (5).
- Shedds Country Crock margarine