Monday, August 25, 2014

Read the labels! {Tortilla Wraps}


The hubster and I ate tacos last week. We often eat "tacos", but we usually serve them nacho style on a bed of chips {corn chips for him, plantain chips for me}. This time though, he wanted tortillas for the "real" taco experience.

So, we did our grocery shopping for the week - and he picked out his tortillas. They sat on our shelf all week, then it was finally Friday and we got to eating our tacos! 

I had my usual taco salad with a side of plantain chips... and he threw together his first real taco in I don't know how long. He ate the first one, then got the urge to look at the back of the tortilla package. He said, "Wow. I should have looked at that before buying them..." He made a second taco though, and ate it as I finished my salad.

Then he took out The Book. This book isn't even ours {I think the hubster borrowed it from a co-worker} but I highly suggest that everyone buy a copy {or borrow a copy long-term, like we seem to be doing}. Here's the website to learn more.


This book lists all European food additives, explains potential consequences and uses a color code {green, orange, red} to classify them according to their danger level {safe, harmful, dangerous}. 

Anyway, back to those tortilla wraps... Here is a picture of the ingredients list, the one the hubster didn't read before throwing into the cart {pro tip: always read the ingredients list, or better yet, only buy food that doesn't have an ingredients list because it's an ingredient itself}:


Alright, now, as I was saying with the hubster, they could have stopped at the first three ingredients and the product would have been cleanish. Not paleo, but it would have been made from simple ingredients. "Whole wheat" would have made it clean, but I digress...

The truth is, they didn't stop at three ingredients. They didn't even stop at six ingredients. There are FOURTEEN ingredients in these tortilla wraps! Huh?! Let's go through them one by one, shall we? {Note: Any additive with a capital letter "E" in front of it means it has been accepted by Europe and is allowed in European-grade food products.}

  • Wheat flour: if you really need explaining on why this is bad for you, check out this article by Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple.
  • Water: Okay, this one is good for you :)
  • Palm oil: This one can be good for you as well - though there is no way of knowing if it's sustainably harvested or not.
  • E422: Glycerol. Can be transgenetic. Can cause nausea, migraines and high blood pressure. To be avoided by pregnant and nursing women.
  • E466: Microcrystalline cellulose. Cotton by-product {part of the waste that results when treating cotton}. Cancer-causing.
  • E412: Guar Gum. Can cause allergies, nausea, flatulence, abdominal cramps, eczema, poor absorption of vitamins and minerals.
  • E500: Sodium Carbonate. A leavening powder.
  • E450: Diphosphate. Synthesized from phosphate salts. Can cause hyperactivity, digestive troubles and poor absorption of vitamins and minerals. Rats have shown reductions in fertility, life expectancy and size.
  • Salt: Good for you.
  • E296: Malic acid DL or L. DL: Natural or chemical, can cause digestive troubles in infants and children. L: a GMO authorized in food for children and infants, can cause digestive troubles in infants and children.
  • E471: Mono and diglycerides of fatty acids. Often mixes of chemical products, can also be transgenetic. Can prevent proper growth, can prevent absorption of essential fatty acids, can increase liver and kidney size, can reduce uterus and testicle size.
  • Dextrose: Any added sugars are a bad idea.
  • E282: Calcium propionate. Chemically produced. Can cause digestive problems and migraines. Is also used to treat "athletes foot".
  • E202: Potassium sorbate. Chemically produced. Can provoke birth defects. Can also cause asthma, hives, rhinitus and digestive troubles.
Is that enough for you to put down the tortilla wraps? It certainly was enough for the hubster. He threw out the four other tortillas, preferring to eat the leftover taco fixings in a taco salad when we finished them off last night.

And when we went grocery shopping for this week, we decided to look at the ingredients list of the other tortillas available in our grocery store... the others weren't much better! Worse, it became obvious there aren't many regulations for those lists. One package had a very long list of ingredients, but written out in words. Next to this package full of numbers, the words look healthier - but they really aren't! Remember: if you can't pronounce it or buy it in a whole-foods form, IT'S NOT FOOD!

Re-reading this book has also prompted us to stop eating foods with nitrates and nitrites. This means no more canned corned beef, and no more bacon. Here's what the book has to say about added nitrates and nitrites:

  • E249 Potassium nitrite: Chemical. Can prevent the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Interacts with other additives and thereby becomes cancer causing. Can also cause shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. 
  • E250 Sodium nitrite: Chemical. Can prevent the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Interacts with other additives and thereby becomes cancer causing. Can also cause shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. Can cause hyperactivity, asthma, insomnia, low blood pressure, cancer.
  • E251 Potassium nitrate: Chemical. Also used to make fertilizer. Can prevent the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Interacts with other additives and thereby becomes cancer causing. Can also cause shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. Can cause hyperactivity, asthma, insomnia, low blood pressure, cancer.
  • E252 Sodium nitrate: Chemical but may also be derived from animal carcasses. Also used to make fertilizer, gun powder and other explosives. Can prevent the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Interacts with other additives and thereby becomes cancer causing. Can also cause shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. Can cause hyperactivity, asthma, insomnia, low blood pressure, cancer.
We have both decided that eating the foods that contain these additives just isn't worth it. What food contain these additives?

Delicatessen {deli meats}
Salaison {salted meats}
Foie gras
Cured bacon

Even organic meats of these sorts can contain these additives! We will be extra vigilant when reading our food labels for now on.

Do you read food labels? Are there any exceptions you make when buying certain products?

4 comments:

  1. Aren't those what are referred to as E numbers?

    The only exception I make when buying foods that have ingredients lists is sugar: if it's 5 or more ingredients down the line, then it's okay, (as per Gary Taubes).

    Have you read Authority Nutrition's article on nitrates and nitrites?

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    Replies
    1. Yup, the E means Europe and the number is the number of the additive.

      I haven't read that, what is it/does it say?

      Delete
  2. Have you tried the foie gras from Upignac yet? We used to eat it quite often when we lived in Belgium.

    ReplyDelete