CARAGEENAN?

A most unhappy moment came today, February 2, 2013 when I discovered through my research that not all labels have to disclose carageenan as an ingredient, which if you are unfamiliar with this horrible additive just keep reading.  I found out my most precious, loved food in the world may contain it ……. beer!     This is a very sad day my friends. For those who know me, you know how much I love my Coors Light.  Read more  

What if I told you that you too are ingesting this additive on a daily basis?  What if I also told you that this “natural” (I love that word, don’t you?) food additive has been a KNOWN dangerous allergen since 1940, yet it’s still classified by the FDA as “safe for human consumption”?   Yes, this is the same FDA that also approves MSG (linked to brain damage, obesity, and cancer), aspartame (linked to MS, seizures, memory issues, and blindness),and  saccharine (linked to many cancers).

But what is Carageenan?  Where does it come from?  It is a product derived from certain types of red algae, a seaweed found throughout the coasts of North America and Europe. It’s used most often used as a thickening agent in place of animal-based products like gelatin, which is extracted from animal bones.  It works as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier, meaning that it helps keep mixed ingredients from separating. It gives foods a smooth texture and accentuates flavor. Carrageenan has to be removed by a powerful alkali solvent. A solvent so strong it would remove the tissue right off your hands if you were to ever touch it.

Where can you find it you ask?  BESIDES my beer?  It’s found in your dairy-based foods, like ice cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Carrageenan is also found in jelly, pie filling chocolate, salad dressing, and even as a fat substitute in processed meat.

Have you or any of your friends and family say they are ‘lactose intolerant’,  can’t ‘consume’  or eat ice cream?  People say it gives them gas and bloating. Well, it very well may be lactose intolerance, like you thought, or it may be the effects of carrageenan in the dairy products. Sometimes it’s not the actual food, but the additives in the food that may be causing your system to be stressed.

But it doesn’t just stop there my faithful readers… it’s also found in your toothpaste, personal lubricants, and air fresheners.  Why?  Because it serves the same purpose…..to thicken and stabilize the product, and make it smoother.

But what can we do??  For starters:

  • we can read labels, learn what is REALLY lurking in your food
  • buy organic whenever possible and always remember to WASH it first
  • Shop at least twice a week for the freshest produce.  Lean what days your market brings fresh produce in.  Mine is Tuesdays
  • Eat grass fed, range free meats from your local butcher – AVOID large supermarkets
  • if you cannot pronounce the ingredient don’t eat it

And lastly, visit sites like  cornucopia.org who neatly lists products that DO NOT contain carageenan.  So ending on a happy note …. on that list is my favorite Ben and Jerry’s Organic ice cream.  So looks like I’ll be drinking ice cream for happy hour!

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