Three “Real Food” Staples That Aren’t What You Think

This is a guest post from Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe) and New York Times Best Selling author. You can read more about her take on the food industry in her second book, Feeding You Lies!

I’ve made it my mission to tell people the truth about their food, where it comes from, and how to live healthfully in our processed-food world. My latest book, Feeding You Lies, just hit stores yesterday and exposes the many lies that you’ll find about our food on product packages, advertising, and in the media.

My journey to a real food lifestyle didn’t happen overnight. Just like most people living in this processed-food world, I was easily fooled by deceptive marketing and packaging. I knew nothing about real food or chemically processed ingredients, but I knew I needed to make a change.

First, I started with the obvious stuff. I stopped eating frozen Lean Cuisines and stocking up on “zero calorie” drinks… and I started buying more fresh ingredients so that I could cook at home and stocked my pantry with staples such as spices, cooking oils, and beans.

However, the more I investigated my food and what I was putting in my body, I began to realize that my grocery shopping still needed a makeover! A lot of those “real food” ingredients I was buying weren’t as healthy as I thought and were quietly sabotaging my health.

And let’s face it, with all the millions of dollars that companies spend to persuade us into buying their products, it can be hard to cut through the B.S. and know if you are making the right choices.

Let’s take “real cheese” for example…

sargento sharp cheddar cheese package

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With the claim “Off the Block” blazoned on the front of the bag, Sargento is insinuating this cheese is like the kind you’d shred “off the block” of cheese at home. However, flipping it over to read the ingredients list, you’ll find it contains powdered cellulose, an additive made from wood and used as a coating on most pre-shredded cheese to keep it from sticking together. Tests done by Bloomberg News found up to 8.8% of cellulose in some brands of shredded parmesan cheese. Eating cellulose is linked to weight gain, inflammation, and digestive problems. Ever since learning about this additive, I started shredding my own cheese!

Plus, dairy products without the USDA certified organic seal usually come from cows raised on grains and GMO feed, which is not healthy for them and produces less nutritious milk. It may also contain residue of artificial growth hormones, antibiotics, and synthetic pesticides. Any of these things can be in cheese labeled “Natural” and “Real”… so don’t fall for these claims on the package.

A Better Choice: Instead, it’s best to choose organic, raw, 100% grass-fed cheese and shred it yourself. Raw cheese contains enzymes that make it easier to digest and is more nutritious. Goat milk cheese is also an excellent option that can be easier to digest.

Another food to watch out for is cooking oil…

canola oil bottles

I used to think I was doing the right thing when I cooked with canola oil. It’s “heart-healthy” right? I mean, it says so right on the bottle! What they don’t tell you though is that most vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, and corn oil go through an INSANE amount of processing with chemical solvents, steamers, neutralizers, de-waxers, bleach, and deodorizers before they end up in the bottle. They are so heavily processed and should not be part of a “real food” lifestyle. Avoiding these oils just for that reason alone is a good idea. However, it gets worse. The “solvent” most often used to extract the oil is the neurotoxin hexane–it’s literally bathed in it.

These mass-produced vegetable oils are also too high in omega-6 fatty acids, which fuel chronic inflammation in the body, leading to disease. Thankfully, there are much healthier choices.

A Better Choice: Unrefined coconut oil is one of my favorites to cook with today. It is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which have been shown to reduce cholesterol and obesity. Other unrefined cooking oils, such as Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Hemp Oil, and Ghee all make excellent choices. Choose organic oils because that’s where GMO ingredients and hexane extraction are prohibited.

Growing up we always had this in the fridge…

land o lakes butter

Land O’ Lakes was a staple in my household. We used the whipped butter like it was nobody’s business—my mom would use it on her infamous parathas (Indian stuffed flatbread), in countless desserts, and to make homemade ghee. Once I found out what was happening at Land O’Lakes, my Mom and I had a little chat. I explained to her that Land O’Lakes is not organic and raises their cows with growth hormones linked to cancer, antibiotics, and harmful pesticide-ridden GMO feed. I told my Mom she had to stop buying Land O’Lakes if we’re going to change this world. Knowing all these facts, my Mom asked, “What butter can I buy?” Well, thankfully there are many brands out there that are light years ahead of Land O’Lakes.

A Better Choice: Today, I choose organic pastured butter. Butter from grass-fed cows has higher amounts of beneficial CLA and healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Also, grass-fed cows produce butter with up to 50 percent more vitamin A and E, and 400 percent more beta carotene (which gives the grass-fed butter a deeper yellow color). You’ll also be avoiding butter laced with residues from antibiotics or hormones as these aren’t used on organic farms.

What you can do

You don’t need to make a full-time career out of investigating food like I have to make better choices at the grocery store. You just need to ask and answer three simple questions about food. In my new book, Feeding You Lies, I walk you through these three simple questions that will dramatically improve your food decisions:

  1. What are the ingredients?
  2. Are these ingredients nutritious?
  3. Where do these ingredients come from?

I believe that if you can select food based on your answers to these three questions, you’ll put yourself—and your loved ones—on the path to a healthy lifestyle right away. Plus, you’ll be fighting back against those guilty parties who are trying to contaminate our foods in the name of profits.

Feeding You Lies book by Vani Hari

Feeding You Lies is a new kind of diet and health book. It’s a revealing investigation into the food industry’s playbook. You’ll become your own health investigator after reading this book, and stop falling victim to the food industry’s lies that have kept us from feeling our best.

I give you action steps that protect you from cheap, processed, unhealthy foods and the health problems and suffering they cause. My 48-Hour Toxin Takedown at the end of the book will help you rid your pantry of foods that are weighing you down. You’ll end your sugar and processed food addictions, lose pound after pound, never “diet” again, and rejuvenate your energy levels, mental fitness, and overall well-being.

Feeding You Lies is now available in bookstores everywhere. Pick up your copy here.

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4 thoughts on “Three “Real Food” Staples That Aren’t What You Think”

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  1. In regards to lead in tumeric, it is my understanding that it’s the low quality turmeric that contains lead. The high quality organic turmeric should not pose a risk for lead.The turmeric in her product is organic. Not saying she is in the right to withhold lab results though. This causes me to raise a brow as well.But remember when it comes to any company selling products to the masses it all boils down to money. Even companies that claim clean products do eventually cut corners if needed for money.

  2. My problem with her products is that she is not transparent enough in her lab results. Turmeric is known for having higher levels of lead in it and from everything I have researched they do not release the lab results or respond to inquiries. Hers uses the powder form not the extract which is supposed to be much more problematic as well. I used to be a big fan but I have cut off all communication from foodbabe because of this issue. I feel like she is untrustworthy now since she yells from the mountain tops for companies to be transparent but she seems not to be. If anyone can prove me wrong and show me the released lab results I’d love to read them.

    1. Food Babe is not transparent about any part of her business, and she does not like and will delete any questions or criticism that challenge her claims. Most recently on her Truvani page she posted a recipe for turmeric tea with an added 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar. This amount of vinegar in a recipe for sipped tea is a disaster for our tooth enamel (and amount of sipped vinegar is in reality) and when I politely commented on this my post was deleted and I was banned from further commenting. She can’t be passing out harmful information without any recourse. :(

  3. My sister-in-law sells cheese to supermarkets and she won’t use grated cheese because of the additives.
    Growth hormones and antibiotics for fattening animals are prohibited in the EU. As long as regulation is a dirty word in the U.S., each consumer has to be extra vigilant.