Sunday, December 21, 2008

What happened to food?

In the wake of tainted milk scandals and consumers waking up to what is in our food and where it comes from, I have recently learned about a new, more hidden secret in the food industry....Modified Milk ingredients. Do you know what that is? Do you even know where that comes from? Modified milk ingredients can be a mixed pot of different parts of milk, artificial milk, melamine and modified fish DNA! A collage of milk and milk like ingredients (things to simulate milk that are cheap to make) are put into dairy foods to make them cheap for the company who makes them offering a high profit profit margin and a good tasting food making the consumer none the wiser. The problem is, some of these "ingredients" are genetically modified and have not been tested for safety for human consumption.

I first heard about this from a reporter for the Tyee on his show called "Deconstructing Dinner" In this special, Jon Steinman, explores companies like Kraft and Unilever (makes everything from Bryer's ice cream to soap to mayo) as he looks at the hundreds of foods that they make and the junk they put into their food. Now we don't buy many packaged foods, but cheese and ice cream are things we buy regularily. So when I heard that my ice cream wasn't really made with cream, I took notice.

Modified milk ingredients are in everything diary and things that require dairy like cookies etc. They take skim milk and put it through a sieve to separate out the proteins from the other components of the milk. The different components of the now separated milk are sold wide. That means that your ice cream could have milk from countries like China and the U.S without you knowing it. Bryer's is one of the famous stories. Remember how they were "all natural" and then they became "double churned"?? Well, what happened is that they are now "naturally flavoured" with modified milk ingredients. They changed their recipie and cream is no longer an ingredient. Many ice creams, including some made by Bryer's are not even allowed to be called ice cream. They must be called "frozen desert". The reason? They no longer use butter fat, they use a various buffet of oils.

So I went to the store to buy some ice cream and cheese and what I found is that President's Choice and Haagen Daaz are the only commercial brands that actually use cream. And as for cheese? Only Organic Cheese is free from Modified Milk Ingredients, almost EVERYTHING else, especially cheddar doesn't even start with milk.

You may think, well I don't buy cheap brands, neither do I. Here are a few offenders:
Island Farms (Ice cream, yogourt)
Armstrong Cheese
Paradise Island cheese (except organic)
Cracker Barrel
there's lots more.....

There is a new system being set up by the Canadian government to regulate the amount of milk in cheese and you can bet Kraft, Saputo and Agropur are none too happy. The government is requiring that most cheeses have at least 80% actual milk, pizza mozzerella only is required to have 69%. What is the rest made of?

What happened to food? The real stuff. The kind when you bought Ice Cream and got Iced Cream? or cheese and got something actually made from milk? When did eating plastic, mystery food become acceptable? Take a look at the labels next time you go shopping, you might be surprised to find what's in your food.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's been a while since I last wrote in my blog. It seems like so much has been happening around here. We have been preparing for Christmas and celebrating Advent with our wreath, making paper window stars and home made presents as well as spending some time reflecting on what this time of year is about for us. With so much uncertainty in the world right now, being close to home, loving our family and friends and counting each blessing seems so important.

I just taught a weekend intensive a week and a half ago and it was one of the best weekends I have ever had. This was such an amazing group, with so much willingness to explore their possibilities and willingness to share their concerns. I came away from that weekend feeling so very blessed to be able to do this work.

We are so blessed with so much, sometimes I realize that we forget to stop and actually see how much we have and be grateful for it. The past few weeks have been a time for me to pause for a while and be thankful. This little bunny hopped into our yard the other day, we still can't figure out where it came from. We've never seen it before, and we haven't seen it since. It was one of those days that I was too lazy to cook supper and was daydreaming out the window. Because of my slacking the kids and I had an amazing moment to see this little creature that came by to see us. The excitement and wonderment that my kids experienced was pure magic. It's amazing how our lives can be full of moments like this, if we only stop for a while to daydream and take stock of how blessed we really are.