Something to Gnaw On

November 29, 2011 § 3 Comments

As if there weren’t enough alarming reasons to stop eating processed foods, the latest revelation is that food companies are using wood products as fillers in some of your favorite treats.

On labels  it’s called “cellulose”. Cellulose is virgin wood pulp that has been heavily processed, and it’s used in everything from mustard to syrup, muffins, sundaes, wraps, cocoa mixes and a variety of other “foods”. It’s also a component in asphalt, paint, roof coatings and pet litter. Yum!

It’s often found (hilariously, in my opinion) in foods that are sold as “high fiber”.

I’ll let that one sink in for a moment.

It’s also used in low fat products to achieve the same consistency as their higher-fat counterparts while still maintaining the flavor.

The problem is that the human body cannot digest cellulose. We lack the enzymes for it. We are genetically incapable of receiving any benefit from eating it.

For a thorough article on cellulose in processed foods, visit It’s a real eye-opener!

I love the part where the guy who works for the company that processes cellulose says that cellulose-laden foods are good for people who don’t have enough fiber in their diets.

That makes sense. Let’s chop down a tree, mash it up, send it to a plant, process it, then send it to another plant where it is mixed into a vat with hundreds of other chemicals. Then it comes out as an Eggo Waffle, wrapped in plastic, frozen, put in a box, shipped hundreds of miles, purchased, driven home, unwrapped (all of the packaging goes to a landfill), heated up, slathered with syrup (more cellulose!) and eaten by someone who thinks they’re getting fiber.

You could do that. Or how about we all just eat an apple?

I cannot stress enough the importance of understanding what is in your food and where it comes from. There is nothing, I mean nothing, we do all day that is more important than feeding ourselves.

Our diets can continue to vex us with fatty, processed meals that increase our waistlines, damage our organs and affect our moods. We can stuff ourselves full of nutrient deficient snacks that satisfy our cravings but leave our bodies yearning for more. We can shop for low-fat alternatives to the junk we love in an effort to trick ourselves into believing that we’re doing something good for ourselves.

Or we can have a come-to-Jesus moment and stop avoiding the truth we all know: The best way to nourish our bodies is with healthy, fresh food that comes out of the ground. And, for meat eaters, that includes buying only ethically farmed, hormone free meats, and then preparing them simply.

Having a healthy diet is as easy as you let it be.

I can personally testify to the difference in my wellness (mental and physical), my energy level and my weight since I started reading labels and refusing to buy items that did not support my body’s health and wellness. Plus — and this is big for me — eliminating processed foods saves TONS of money. Veggies are cheap. Even the organic ones.

Here are my Type A Food Rules:

Nothing from China. It’s impossible to regulate what comes from China, and they have a deplorable track record of putting hazardous chemicals in food.

Nothing with corn syrup.

Buy organic whenever possible. I am aware that “organic” can be controversial on labels because US regulations are vague, but this mostly applies to processed and packaged foods. I buy very few of these items, and even though I can’t be totally sure I’m not being lied to I feel that it’s best to vote for more organic foods with my dollar in the hopes that more companies provide organic alternatives in the future.

No more dairy.  Although I do enjoy a little goat cheese, sprinkled like a spice, on homemade pizza

No meat.

Nothing that needs to be microwaved.

Produce from as close to my house as possible. That means no fruit from New Zealand or avocadoes from Chile. My one splurge: bananas a couple of times a month for vegan banana-pecan pancakes.

Only real maple syrup.

Buy in bulk whenever possible. No packaged beans, rice, grains or spices.

Eat greens and cruciferous vegetables every single day.

Buy only fair trade chocolate, cocoa, tea and coffee.

And finally…

Nothing with cellulose.

I hate being tricked. That’s why when I discovered that the FDA and USDA don’t have my back when creating their food rules I took matters into my own hands.

What are you waiting for? Take control of your own diet, and don’t let someone else convince you that sawdust is a healthy choice.

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§ 3 Responses to Something to Gnaw On

  • EcoCatLady says:

    Wow… it’s starting to feel a tad bit like Soylent Green around here. Have you read Michael Pollard’s In Defense of Food? He says that most of what you find in today’s grocery stores is not really food, it’s simulated food-like substances… but this is just over the top.

    I had to give up pretty much all processed foods many years ago because of allergies. At the time I thought the universe was against me, but now, I sort of see it as a gift. I still on occasion wish that I could enjoy all of the many foods that are off limits for me, but in the long run I think I got the better end of the deal.

  • I think you did, too. You sort of got “forced” into healthier eating, but in the long run you’re going to be better off! I have read Pollard’s book. It should be required reading in every school… :)

  • millavilla says:

    I read labels yesterday after reading your post and sure enough, found some in the foods we eat regularly. Our shredded cheese, corn tortillas and pancake syrup for starters.

    My daughter says that cellulose is routinely put in shredded cheese and therefore she has been buying the blocks and shredding them herself. I will be vigilant in label reading from here on out!

    I also discovered that the front label of my syrup reads no high fructose corn syrup, but on the label, corn syrup is an ingredient. I really dislike that.

    thanks for the heads up…

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