In a previous post, we shared why we’ve decided to move away from industrialised processed food and stopped buying food from supermarkets. For instance, we recalled that as far as our hormones and metabolism are concerned, there’s no difference between a bowl of unsweetened corn flakes purchased in a supermarket and a bowl of table sugar…
So what does it have to do with the present post, i.e. ‘who is the ‘authority’ that said that Coca-Cola was safer to drink than raw milk?’ The question stems from the fact that the cola drink, which is an unhealthy drink if one looks at its proportion of sugar (or worse, sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup depending on country of origin), phosphoric acid or glycerine, is considered as safe to drink by health authorities worldwide. In contrast, a number of countries, including Australia, Canada, as well as 28 states in the US, Scotland in the UK, etc. prohibit the sale of raw milk for human consumption. Although health risks due to the consumption of raw milk are real, one still wonders why many industrially processed drinks are considered as safer than raw milk…
The questions of the risks and benefits of raw milk vs pasteurized/homogenized milk have become increasingly vivid these last years, but, all things considered, it seems to us that drinking raw milk that has been appropriately collected and distributed is certainly healthier than drinking Coca-Cola. So why forbidding the former when allowing the latter?… We totally understand the need for having health and safety standards that are based on science, not ideology, as well as regulatory frameworks to food distribution, but hey, hasn’t it been pushed it a bit too far?…
So, why do they pasteurise milk anyway? Well, pasteurising started in the 1920s to fight diseases caused by poor animal nutrition and dirty production methods but from what we have read (try here and here for some alternative information about raw milk), today’s methods make pasteurisation pretty much unnecessary. Additionally, we’ve read that in many cases illness initially attributed to raw milk often ends up being traced to something else… like a non food contaminant. So why do they continue to pasteurise? The big milk producers want to pasteurise milk so that it will keep longer, for mass production, transportation and shelf life. Your ‘fresh’ milk is probably at least days old before you see it. With raw milk, after a few days it will sour naturally. Unfortunately, pasteurising doesn’t just kill pathogens, it also destroys the enzyme that enables you to absorb calcium, decreases the vitamin content and kills beneficial bacteria. In all cases, please make up your own mind and just remember that checking your raw milk comes from a healthy source is the most important thing!
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola could be sold in restaurants, vending machines and shops all around the world even though it contained a controversial additive (E211 – Sodium Benzoate, used to stop fizzy drinks from going mouldy) that has been linked to damage to DNA and hyperactivity in children. It has only been through consumer insistence for a more ‘natural’ product, that in 2008 they started phasing out the additive from ‘some’ of their drinks.
Additionally, since 1980 in the U.S., Coke has been made with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as an ingredient (if you are unaware of health effects, please watch this interesting talk about HFCS). To add fuel to the HFCS fire, a 2009 study found that almost half of tested samples of commercial HFCS contained mercury, a toxic substance. This, on top of many well known health effects related to soft drinks – two common ones being the high refined sugar content and caffeine (which is a mildly addictive and a stimulant, increasing slightly the excretion of calcium).
Coca-Cola knows that their products aren’t healthy too! Otherwise why would they create products designed to appeal to the more health conscious? Like, the 90-calorie mini-can, apparently a “great way for people to enjoy the taste of Coca-Cola that they love, while still managing their calorie intake”. As this article put it, “These messages sound a lot like what tobacco companies said when they introduced light cigarettes.” Or perhaps Diet Coke can help you lose weight? Or is Coca-Cola Zero more your thing? Be careful! It’s sweetened partly with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Both of these have been approved by health departments all around the world despite controversy and debate over their safety to humans. Some concerns have been raised about aspartame and its breakdown products (methanol, phenylalanine and aspartic acid), including epilepsy, brain tumours and effects on the nervous system while studies have shown that artificial sweeteners like acesulfame potassium can stimulate high insulin levels in your body which can actually promote fat storage. Please do your own research to make up your own mind on these additives and don’t be surprised when you continually find the ‘authority’ telling you it’s safe. Lastly, what about Coca-Cola’s “healthy soda”, Diet Coke Plus with vitamins B6, B12, magnesium, niacin, and zinc added? Are you convinced?
Currently, in a desperate attempt to link soft drinks to good health, the industry emphasises that soda contains water, an essential nutrient: “Drink plenty of ﬂuids: consume at least eight glasses of ﬂuids daily, even more when you exercise. A variety of beverages, including soft drinks, can contribute to proper hydration.” A similar claim was made in 1998 by M. Douglas Ivester, then Coca-Cola’s chairman and CEO, when he defended the marketing of soft drinks in Africa. He said, “Actually, our product is quite healthy. Fluid replenishment is a key to health… Coca-Cola does a great service because it encourages people to take in more and more liquids.”
In fact, soft drinks pose health risks both because of what they contain (extra calories, sugar, and various additives) and what they replace in the diet (beverages and foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients).
As The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends (among others), “The Food and Drug Administration should require labels on non-diet soft drinks to state that frequent consumption of those drinks promotes obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, osteoporosis, and other health problems.”
Similarly, let’s look at a ‘natural’ alternative by looking at the ingredients present in so many juices sold in supermarkets. They mention ‘reconstituted [apple/orange/raspberry] juice’. Seriously, why?! Why shall we have juices which have been concentrated and to which water was later added – more often than not in another country, and with sugars, colours and additives? Not to mention the huge amounts of energy that is spent in the processing, transportation, and reconstitution of the juice… What sort of logic is that? Shouldn’t we rather favour juices that are truly 100% natural, produced locally and seasonally?
In all cases, our point is that, as ungrateful children of this industrialised society, we consider that we need to ignore the ‘authority’ and move away from industrialised processed food to natural – now called organic – food.
Having said that, we often hear that a major impediment people have with such move is that industrialised food is cheap while organic food is expensive. Indeed and as recalled by Prof. Ludwig “there’s the incessant advertising and marketing of the poorest quality foods imaginable. To address this epidemic, you’d want to make healthful foods widely available, inexpensive, and convenient, and unhealthful foods relatively less so. Instead, we’ve done the opposite.”
Indeed. However, while the price of organic food is definitely a point of concern, one needs to put things in perspective… this will be the subject of our next post.