J500 Media and the Environment

Glycerol in my Grocery Bag by Kelly

Ah, food. I love it.  I love seeing it, smelling it, cooking it, reading about it, shopping for it,  eating it, and sharing it.  Because I love it, I pay attention to what’s in it. A few years ago, I stopped buying anything made with high fructose corn syrup. I thought that ridding my diet of the processed sweetener may give me more energy. Recently, I decided to choose foods with familiar ingredients. Whatever it is goes right back on the shelf when I see a word like, “carrageenan.” If it’s an ingredient I can’t put in my own pantry, I try to avoid it.

Unfortunately, reading labels still doesn’t mean you know what you’re eating. Twinkie Deconstructed, by Steve Ettlinger, answers questions about processed food that a lot of people didn’t know needed to be asked. What are we eating, really?  When you look into it like Ettlinger did, you may find out that, if you are what you eat, you’re increasingly becoming drywall.

What's on your grocery list? photo credit: K.Cochran

We need to start asking questions about our food. Knowledge helps us make decisions about what we will, and will not, put in our bodies.  It’s one thing to use food as fuel, but using fuel as food? We deserve better.

Knowing what’s in our food gives us control. Will companies keep making foods that we simply won’t buy? Of course not. Take my personal boycott against high fructose corn syrup. Two years ago when I started, I was very limited in the foods I could buy. Today, I have many  more options.

It seems that enough people started avoiding high fructose corn syrup, so companies stopped using it. Imagine that effect on a larger scale. Little Kelly in Lawrence, Kansas couldn’t have had that impact on her own. People need to buy better food before companies will give us better food to eat. They will feed us what we’re willing to be fed.

Start making decisions about your food.  You can do what I did and choose one ingredient to avoid, and build on that list over time.  Go organic if you can.  Find your local farmer’s market for healthy produce grown close by.

Bottom line: food is important.  If I wanted to eat wood chips, I’d gnaw on my floorboards. But I don’t, and I can’t imagine too many people do. Do some research and make some changes. I love my food, and it’s time it loved me back.

K. Cochran


3 Comments so far
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Kelly, I completely agree with you about making changes but want to know what inspired YOU to make the change with high fructose corn syrup? It’s easy to say “change” but we all know how hard that is – especially when it is so hard to get or decipher information on something as basic as food. What kinds of inroads can we make to facilitate a behavioral shift?
Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

Changing a habit is hard, especially when it’s a food habit. That’s exactly why I choose to change the way I did. High fructose corn syrup had starting getting a bad rap a couple years ago and there was a lot of media coverage about it. So I decided that was what I was going to change: instead of overhauling my whole food routine I was just going to scan labels for that one ingredient and avoid it. It wasn’t hard to do. And, I really do think nixing it from my foods has made a difference in how I feel.

I think picking one goal at a time is the easiest way to change a food habit. Then, once you’re used to your new goal, you tack on a new one.

– K.Cochran

Comment by Kelly


First of all, I loved your analogy about us being drywall. I have had my own food crisis in the past and I think avoiding a specific bad ingredient is a great start. However, there are ingredients that the FDA allows in food that it doesn’t require to be labeled (I wasn’t able to find an exact list… MSG is the most common… but I’ve heard that there are more than 30 ingredients that don’t have to be labeled). In certain circumstances, high fructose corn syrup doesn’t have to be labeled either. For example, a sauce or dressing that uses a base that has high fructose corn syrup in it can just list the base without listing all of the ingredients in the base. I am wondering why high fructose corn syrup became your avoidance of choice? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

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