You Are What You Eat

800px-PackagesThere is an old saying, “You are what you eat,” which means that if you eat good food, you’ll be healthy, and if you don’t, you won’t.

But do we really know what we’re eating?

In the past year or two, the news media (newspapers, magazines, TV news, Internet news, etc.) has reported on foods that are purportedly (said to be; claim to be) one thing, but are instead something else, usually something cheaper, of poorer quality, or not meant for (intended for) human consumption (for people to eat or drink).

You buy beef, but it’s really horse meat. You buy salmon, but it’s really dyed (made to changed colors) white fish. You buy saffron, the most expensive spice (substance used to improve the taste of food) in the world, but it’s been doctored (changed to make it appear to be something else) with red dye, a substance know to cause cancer.

I recently read about a non-profit (not intended to make money) website called the USP Fraud Database intended to help regulators (people whose job is to enforce rules and laws) and large-scale purchasers (buyers of large quantities) spot (find) food scams (frauds; tricks) and substitutes (things used instead of the real thing). The database has over 2,000 foods that have been known to be a product of fraud based on food-related research studies. The database even lists those research studies in case you want to know the source (where something comes from) and/or to read more about them.

If you type in “saffron,” that spice I mentioned before, you’ll find that there are over 100 “adulterants,” or substances put into it or in place of it that shouldn’t be there, including flowers, other spices, and even chalk (the white limestone substance sometimes made into sticks to write on chalkboards in classrooms)! Yuck (disgusting)!

You can take a look at the USP Fraud Database yourself and search for foods you commonly eat. But, then again (on the other hand; from another view), sometimes ignorance is bliss (not knowing makes you happier).

~ Lucy

Photo Credit: Packages from Wikipedia


This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to You Are What You Eat

  1. emiliano says:

    No, Lucy, we don´t.

    After going to buy food for more than fourteen years stil I don´t know what some food are made from.

    Year after year the list of components or ingredients a food packaged has have increased so much
    that it is impossible to know what we are eating. Even the list use to be written with so small letters
    that it is not posible to read all of them.

    Having in mind such a lot of people that buy these packaged food don´t can´t read the letters without
    their glases it is better not knowing what the food has, or what kind of conservative ingredients are
    Yes, some how we are what we eat and lot of chronic diseases are the result of a very bad or poor die.t

    Dear Lucy, it is crazy that in the last post I said something similar to that:

    “These people you have mentioned Jeff, knew anything about endorphins? that platelets transported endorphins into the brain?
    that a miss of platelets or red blood cells gives our body unhappines, not will to live?. That sometimes happiness or unhappines
    have nothing to do with our with the subtle idea of happiness?. We are what we eat, what we live or the circunstances of our

    Did you read my mind or it is me the one who read yours?

    Well TODAY I AM HAPPY, just a momento ago a dear friend has called me to say me that my
    friend Camila it is at home, at last she is home………Bravo. yes I am happy thinking about
    this so good news….All it is possible.

    Thanks Lucy. emiliano

  2. Peter says:

    Dear Lucy,
    Such a rude awaking post you got there today:)
    What else is new sis?
    Food fraud scandals have made headlines for more than a decade.
    Every now and then , you hear another appalling story about fake foods and tempered ingredients. the sad thing is they have never been limited to just one certain category of products. the fraudulent include almost every food genre out there ranging from dairy to poultry,to meat ,and even fruit and vegetables. One day, you read about some adulterated olive oil and the other day it is horse meat that makes the news.
    the scandal about the current food fake is still hot that another shocking food-related news grabs public attention and upstages the current one.
    The aftermath :)) is always the same. People fearing of their lives starts talking about it and the authorities starts passing the bucket until the story overshadows with some totally irrelevant news. Then , within one month or two ,another food fake Scandal , and the same dance of death.
    You know the sad thing about the whole charade is that we are still naive enough to spend hours in grocery shopping going through the break down ingredient of every single product thinking we r picking a healthy choice.
    I stand corrected It is not sad , it is deplorable.

    I never trust the label on the food products. Never ever.
    I just zip through the grocery store and load up my shopping cart with whatever catches my eyes because I know the fact that wether I check the labels or not the result would be the same. So, why bother !

    Such a tangled web we weave , such a tangled web.


  3. emiliano says:

    Yes, Peter, I agree with you absolutely.

    Often I have tried to read the label but it is the same, you can´t trust it even in the case you may
    understan what it says.

    How is going your work now, are you happy about it bro?.
    At least you have one that seems well, here there is a big disaster as more of fifty per cent of
    Young are without a work and thousands of them have to go out from the country.

    Thousands to Germany or north Europe, so much prepared Young people who needs to go
    out if they want to work, it is like a plague devasting the hopes of our new generation and of course
    the treasure of a Nation. Losing their Young good prepared people it is the worst that could happens
    to a country if you think in future.

    My best dear. emiliano

  4. HILARIO says:

    FOOD SAFETY ENFORCEMENT.- That should be broadly considered a global universal concern like a real undiscriminated threat that is menacing for all human beings. Social networks they should be focussing the more and more on this very important issue as of capital importance for life necessary conditions. What else could be more lethal than to be poisoned through the regular food we buy to put on our table? Are we paying for being killed? Where are the attacking enemies? Who is going to stop them? I think that proactive actions should be taken in a transversal way by world citizens going online, like UPS, in order to make possible a real time investigation and an rapid withdrawal of the poison food from supermarkets and groceries. Same way in which conscious proletarians got change in working-wage conditions by strike, now conscious consumers should change eating conditions through adquisition power. Everything would change for the better.

  5. parviz says:

    Dear Lucy,
    What a tough topic, It gives me a headache even to think about it.

    I wish you put this post 20 days ago, before I leave for vacation. You know, the new year just started in my country, and people are back to work after a short holiday.
    When I say holiday it is a given to think about food indulging and overeating.

    Like Jeff I am from a very big family of 11 brothers and sisters, 30 grandchildren and 4 great grand children.

    I used to go to my birthplace to see my relatives. There my Aunts and uncles usually treat me with so many ethnic foods that are unusual for other places.
    This is the only moment that I trust what I am eating. No additives, No preservatives, No dyes,….. .
    This year I engaged myself in working on some few projects, so I took an Office-vacation alone by myself.
    Speaking of which, Saffron is a product of my country. Oddly enough, We people here are also deprived of good Saffron.
    growing up as a child, my mother always tried to protect us, giving us fresh dairy food coming from farm, or used organically grown rice and grains to feed us.

    As emiliano mentioned there are many new food with so many difficult-to-know ingredients, new brands, new packaging.
    To make it easy for myself, I have decided to stick to our simple foods that my mom taught me growing up. I avoid any packaged food, frozen food and canned food, even though they are convenient.

    Take care,

  6. Peter says:

    Dear warren ,
    I just read your article about the power of reading for pleasure on your website . I mean ,the junk reading and all.
    I couldn’t be more agree with you on that my good man.
    I just stumbled on the article, and I grasped the point of it.
    I myself experienced the same.
    The truth is , I m not big on reading. I have not the time nor the patience for it. Honest, the only thing that I read and reread like a lot is eslpod blog. I like the post-comment interaction we got going here. I mean , this very blog gives me the pleasure you mention on your article as the most effective way for learning a new language.
    U know , blog interaction is my way of effortless writing improvement. If u ask, must say, I have acquired some sense of writing style through my years-long relentless interaction with the blog.
    I mean , I experiencing the exact thing the second teacher on the article went through. When we have a new post on here. I usually go through it over and over.
    And when one post is done ,I keep checking the blog for the next one.
    on the listening part with regards to language acquisition ,well , I keep listening to Jeff. And , I am a movie goer

    All in all , I feel the language in my blood. I sense it.

    I gotta tell you , language acquisition was a pain for me in the first 15 years of my endeavor,and the most fun game ever for the past 6 years-that is – the time of my involvement with Jeff and his gang.
    I found your article very appealing. I must set time to read more of you on your website.

    Thanks dear Warren.

  7. Dan says:

    Hi guys

    And what about when you go out…do we know what happens back in those restaurant’s kitchens? we do not.

    Personally I NEVER go out for a meal. I’d rather prefer cooking by myself. I SEE what goes on the dish.

    Thanks guys

  8. Lassana says:

    Dear Lucy,

    Then again, it is an very interesting subject.

    Indeed, food is essentially for our lifes and fraudsters understood well.
    Now we no longer know what we eat. All foods are concerned, there are a lot of engredients, meat, starches, dessert and so forth.

    For example, sometimes when I go in some supermarkets to buy vegetables, I see they are very nice, but the taste is bad.

    We hear every days in a paper or TV news the informations about food and ingredients which appears in certain food, that causes cancer.

    When we read the back of product packaging there are a lot of food components. I think we should not read these informations, otherwise we don’t no longer eat anything.

    We don’t know origin of meats and the farming conditions. Je understand why somme people can’t eat meat. Personnaly I can’t because I like so much eat meat and fish.

    Now, we can’t really know what is in our plate wether in home or restaurant !

    but we can’t complain when we can eat ! while in some part of the world, many people are not eating enough.

    Thanks Lucy see you soon !

  9. Peter says:

    Thanks Emiliano for the heartfelt wish.
    The job is fine.
    Happy that I have some cash flow.
    As you said , it is hard to land a descend job nowadays.
    But,I some how paid my dues. U know I finished college two times here. I worked odd jobs at all odd hours for the entire of my school time.
    Then, when I finally graduated. I had to move from one lowly jobs to another. It was not until two years after my graduation that I landed a job that was remotely related to the field of my study. But , I was happy that eventually I was on the right track.
    Long story short, I had to jump through a lot of hoops for one year before getting the job I m having right now. It is a full time job with a steady income.
    To tell you the truth , my current job is not a job with a fat pay check and bloated benefits . But , It helps me to earn my keep.
    It is sad that I hear that yongesters in your country and other part of Europ having such a hard time making their end meet.

    You know , the thing is ,most of the companies out there prefer to hire potential employees through contract or part time. it is completely beneficial to them. Because they hire their employees mostly through work agencies. That way they avoid all the liabilities that may cause by the employees. Moreover , they don’t have to be worried about benefits , signing bonuses , and moving fee that they normally grant to their full time employees upon hiring.
    The work agency would be responsible for all these , work visa and what not

    Thanks for the care Emiliano
    I feel really close to u . after all we go way back here in the land of Eslpod.
    We were among early pilgrims who landed in Eslpod :))))


  10. Jesus P says:

    Hello Lucy,

    I do believe that we are what we eat, the question is: are we eating healthy food on a daily basis?
    I think that the way some companies misuse the social media impacts in a negative way how some people decide to spend the money and what kind of food they eat. However I still believe that each one of us can decide what to do or not to do regarding the type of food we eat.


    Jesus P.

  11. Dan says:

    I once tried out Peanut Butter, wich does not sell very well here in Europe or, at least south Europe.

    You can find it at the local Supermarket, but I have never seen anyone buying it. I feel so sorry for those jars.

    Here, we have a fantastic product called Nutella wich is a chocolate butter. Try it out it is VERY good.

    Anyway, Peanut Butter is too expensive and I did not like it very much, it tasted too salty. I just prefer Butter with Jam.

    Do you Guys eat Peanut Butter?

    Usually it is produced in the US. I am not aware of a EU country producing that.

    Thanks! Have a great Week-end

  12. Dan says:


    This evening I am gonna make Toetellini with a Sauce made out with Cherry Tomatoes and Tons of garlic as I like it.


  13. Dan says:

    Hey ESL Team.

    Congratulations to whomever writes the descriptions to all the podcasts. They are good and often funny.

    Thanks guys

  14. Willy says:

    I think nutrition is very important, we are what we eat. So I always try to eat vegetable, legumes and I avoid meat, fatty food and sweets and so on.
    Yes, I agree with you, often what we buy as food it isn’t what it claims to be, for example a few of minute ago I ate a banana but it tastes like iron …
    I hope it was only unripe because I bought a lot of bananas …

    However we should care much more about our nutrition, because it is very important.

  15. emiliano says:

    Yes Peter, that´s right, the most senior blogers of ESL Podcast, do you know something?
    I would like to see you one day here in Spain, in Madrid, at home and have a lunch together at home, your
    home too, it is sure you may enjoy Madrid absolutely.
    It is sure we could have lot of subjects to talk to, years and years writing and Reading each other.

    Think about that.
    I can´t travel till Toronto, older tan you my friend, and for more than fifteen years I have not travel at all.
    Why?. It is easy, Cuca is not apt to travel now and I have to care her.
    This new year of 2013 I was thinking in traveling alone, I have a person of my obsolute confidence to let
    her with Cuca, but as the time pass I don´t know what are I going to do. I am too lazy to let her alone
    here. After so many years looking after her it is difficult to change my mind a let her here alone, withouth
    me and the idea of doing a trip by myself it is some how hard.
    It is possible that I could go to Londen or Ireland, may be, New York is too far away and it seems to me
    like a dream. May be in other ocasión or not, who knows?.

    But you may come here which ever time you want, so we can give us a hug and sure you will enjoy Madrid.
    I would like to say you…He Peter, how are you my friend?.

    Think about that, emiliano

  16. emiliano says:

    He Peter, if you come alone you may be at home with us, I have not another bed room but I have a
    room where I can put another portable bed.
    When my daughter Eva comes from Islas Canarias to see us, I do that.
    Last time she was here, in November, she was sleeping on the couch for ten days. She is small, and
    it is easy for her to sleep on the couch, but I have portable bed to a person bigger.

    How are you? big? thin? small? and what kind of food do you eat?

    There is not any problema for us Peter, and it could be cheap for you not having to be in a hotel so

    Bye, bro……emiliano

  17. Peter says:

    Dear Emiliano,
    There must be some kind of misunderstanding
    I m not going to Spain.
    Thanks for the invitation ,though
    I m tall
    Midum built 🙂 )))
    I m not goona fit on any coach.
    Does your coach pull out?:))
    But , I don’t have any plan on traveling to Madrid, not that I know of :))


  18. emiliano says:

    He Peter,
    That´s right, ja, ja, it was only an idea but may be lately I am just
    a little crazy.

    We´ll follow talking by our ESL podcast Blog, that is good enough
    for all of us.


Comments are closed.