Discover how the food industry gets us hooked on fast food and pays to skew studies. Learn how the animal industry shapes today’s food policies and why you need to avoid GMOs and supplements. And find out how to avoid junk foods for good.
No more than 500 companies control 70% of our food choice. Of them, ten have even greater market share and influence. These companies are:
Together these companies generate more than $1.1 billion a day. Today, these companies are part of an industry valued at $7 trillion. That is bigger than the energy sector and represents about 10% of the global economy.
These companies use cheap land and labor to produce inexpensive products. They sell low nutritional products while maximizing profits. The Big 10 has exploited water resources in developing countries and farmers that work for them.
Nestle used valuable groundwater near villages in Pakistan to sell their drinks. In 2009, Kraft purchased beef from Brazilian suppliers that cut down trees in the Amazon. Coca-Cola faced allegations of child labor in its supply chain in the Philippines.
A third of the world's population relies on small-scale farming for their livelihoods. Our agriculture today can produce more than enough food to feed everyone on earth. However, one-third of the food goes to waste while almost 900 million people go to bed hungry each night.
80% of the global population that are hungry are farmers. Snacks and sodas steal valuable agricultural resources from local communities. The food and beverage companies do little to address these issues. There is still as much injustice as it was 100 years ago.
The Big 10 has a significant influence over the traders and governments around the world. The modern-day American supermarket carries more than 38000 products.
Even though there is a great deal of choice, only a few companies make these products. Products once produced by smaller companies are now owned by the Big 10.
Food companies use lots of tricks to get us hooked on their products. Three things they use to cast a spell on us is sugar, salt, and fat.
Our bodies are hard-wired for sweets. The entire mouth goes crazy for sugar, including the palate. There are specialized receptors for sweetness in every one of the mouth’s ten thousand taste buds.
Food manufacturers are well aware of our cravings for sweet foods. They pay scientists who specialize in the senses. The Monell Chemical Senses Center is one of the world’s foremost authorities on taste.
Taxpayers fund about half of the center’s $17.5 million annual budget through federal grants. The rest of its operation comes from the food industry and several tobacco companies.
Sugar makes foods and drinks irresistible. This white substance makes donuts fry up bigger or prevent breads from going stale. It also turns cereal toasty-brown and fluffy.
All of this has made sugar a go-to ingredient in processed foods. On average, we consume 71 pounds(32kg) of caloric sweeteners each year. That’s 22 teaspoons of sugar, per person, per day.
Sugar has no nutrients and create a huge insulin spike and make people hungry soon after. Kids like sugar even more than adults. The sweet taste is their signal for foods that are rich in energy. Sugar also makes children feel good.
Replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners does not improve things. Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame is highly toxic to the body. It can increase the risk of brain cancer. Other sweeteners from high fructose corn syrup are also toxic to the body.
Another substance food companies use to make it hard to stop eating is salt.
We have salt on everything now. People love salt. Imagine eating food without any added salt. Terrible. More than three-quarters of the salt we consume in a week come from processed foods.
Food companies dump sack after sack of salt into their cheeses, canned soups, and TV dinners. Even the low-fat, low-sugar versions of their foods have huge doses of salt.
Among the basic tastes, salt is one of the hardest ones to live without. Salt, or sodium chloride, give foods their taste appeal.
You can find it in everything from:
We taste salty foods like we do sweets, throughout the mouth. The body has receptors for detecting salt that goes all the way through the mouth and down to the gut.
Today, Americans consume much more sodium than health authorities recommend. They eat about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. Processed foods account for an estimated 75% of the total sodium consumed. A significant source of sodium in most diets comes from sodium chloride.
The salting of processed food is a way to increase sales and consumption. Salt fixes a myriad of problems in processed foods. Cornflakes, for example, taste metallic without it. Crackers are bitter and soggy and stick to the roof of your mouth.
Without salt, ham turns rubbery. Salt also prevents something called “warmed-over-flavor.” The fats in the meat give the meat a taste of cardboard when you reheat it.
This is where salt comes in. Once WOF sets in, salt becomes a convenient antidote for the processed food industry. They often rely on reheated meats.
Companies use various forms of sodium as food additives. They often add sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, and sodium acid pyrophosphate.
These compounds have become essential components in processed foods. They have less sodium than salt but share the same benefits.
The last thing food companies use to make food unresistible is fat.
Fat is one of the core components of processed food, even more, powerful than sugar. The taste of fat is a bit harder to pin down than sugar.
Humans have receptors for sweet, salty, sour, and bitter foods. Umami is a more recent addition. It is a meaty, savory taste derived from an amino acid called glutamate.
All the other tastes have receptors in the taste buds that we can identify and label. It is through these receptors that the sweet taste and different flavors get delivered to the brain.
But we have not found any receptors for fat. And yet, the processed food industry relies on it like no other component.
Fat turns chips crunchy and breads into silky loaves. Like sugar, some types of fats increase the shelf-life of foods for days or months at a time. Fat gives cookies more bulk and a firmer texture. It also lessens the rubbery texture in hot dogs and deepens their color.
Fat can also mask and convey other flavors in foods. This act of delivering different flavors is one of fat’s most valued functions.
Fat contains nine calories per gram and leads to rapid weight gain. The saturated fat in junk food is unhealthy and can increase your risk of heart disease.
Hydrogenated oils, leave a residue of trans fat which is dangerous to humans. Trans fat comes from the processing and is not a natural fat.
Food manufacturers are also experts at marketing and deceit.
Food companies use a vast amount of marketing tricks to make us buy their products. They often capitalize on current health trends like Omega-3 and probiotics.
One way they can achieve this is by adding algae oil rich in Omega-3 to their product. They then say it contains Omega-3 in big letters in the advertisement.
Food companies also add synthetic vitamins and minerals to their products. In this way, they can make their products seem healthier than they are. You might see "A Good source of vitamins and calcium", or "100% daily value of 12 vitamins and minerals."
Producers also exploit the term "natural." The FDA hasn’t developed any definition for this term. This means any package can have the phrase "100% natural" even if it's processed.
Trans fats have been proven to cause heart disease and other health problems. In U.S. supermarkets you can say a product is free from trans fats if it has less than 0.5g of trans fats per serving. If any product mentions "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated oil" it has trans fats.
Many fat-free products are not healthy at all. Anything "fat-free" can still contain added sugars or additives.
Manufacturers also like to toy with the serving size. This is one of the classic marketing traps which make a product look healthier than it is.
In general, the serving size does not reflect an actual regular serving. The calories and nutrient you ingest are much higher than expected by a glance at the label.
On the label, they can list the calories of one serving. But the whole product can count as 2.5 servings. That means that you need to multiply the serving size with 2.5 to know the real caloric intake.
Manufacturers can also make you believe that sugar-free products are healthier when they are not. One such example is Pepsi.
Some products brag that they are sugar-free. But watch out! Often that means that they replaced sugar with artificial sweeteners like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup.
Some manufacturers create products marketed as healthier choices. One such example was Pepsi Next. Pepsi advertised it as being “sweetened naturally.”
But if you looked at the ingredients sugar was the second ingredient after water. The product used Stevia to reduce the amount of sugar by 30%. But the rest of the sweetening came from sugar.
When you read the labels, the main components should be at the head of the list. By law, the manufacturer must name the major ingredients first. And then list all the other elements in the order of diminishing weight.
The food industry also uses fancy names to disguise the real ingredient. Evaporated cane juice sounds better than white sugar. But it is still granulated sugar.
Supermarkets also have tricks they use to sell products. They often bake fresh bread or cookies so that we can't ignore the pleasant aroma. Stores also make sure to keep the shelves well-stocked or move the products to the front.
Many supermarkets also put the most desirable products at the other end of the store. This ensures that people need to walk through the whole store and accidentally buy something else.
But it doesn't stop there. Food companies use various camera tricks to make their products seem more irresistible.
Manufacturers use deceitful tricks to make their products look better on camera. Did you know that ice cream makers use mashed potato when they take photos of ice creams?
It is hard to take pictures of ice creams because they melt within minutes. A photoshoot often takes several hours, and it is too inconvenient to make many batches of ice cream.
When companies take pictures of cereals, they use glue instead of milk. Cereals become mushy when you soak them in milk. Food companies also put food polish on meat products to make them seem more appealing.
The video below shows ten tricks these companies use to make their food stand out.
It is not only the Big 10 that controls the market, but also the meat and dairy industry.
The meat and dairy industry has a massive say in today’s food policies. They are billion dollar industries and are not willing to give up their profit. Meat and dairy products are detrimental to our health. They lead to more cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Meat and dairy foods are the highest sources of saturated fat in American diets. The meat and dairy industries fund studies to stop the idea that saturated fat is dangerous. These industries want evidence that meat or dairy do not raise blood cholesterol.
The USDA has to make sure food is safe and healthy. But they are also responsible for the wellbeing of meat and dairy farmers. It is impossible to promote health while at the same time helping the animal industry. The food industry influences the food pyramid to make us eat more meat and dairy products.
The government supports research and promotional programs for many farmers. These programs are better known as “checkoff programs.” The purpose of checkoff programs is to increase the demand for agricultural products.
Producers pay fees per weight of the product. These fees go into a common fund distributed to national and state programs.
The USDA oversees and administers the programs, sets guidelines, and approves board members. They also monitor adverts, budgets, and contracts as well as the research. The dairy lobby has a strong grip on the government and needs its support to survive.
The federal government plays an essential role in the promotion of dairy. They control the dairy industry’s checkoff program to subsidize school food programs. Meanwhile, the government creates dietary guidelines to help Americans eat right.
About half the U.S. milk supply goes to the production of cheese. Frozen desserts and flavored milk account for 70% of milk sales in schools. And more than 10% of all U.S. sugar goes into the production of dairy products.
The dairy checkoffs generate about $200 million in annual fees. They are best known for the milk-mustache “Got milk?” campaign. It featured celebrities and athletes sporting milk mustaches. A similar dairy program in Canada funds research to promote Canadian dairy farms.The USDA also helped fast food companies to use more cheese.
The USDA is not supposed to support or endorse specific companies or brands. But they still partner with many fast-food chains through the checkoff program. They also give money to lobbying groups not allowed with checkoff dollars.
The dairy checkoff program helped Taco Bell introduce more cheese to their products. In 2013, the checkoff program helped Pizza Hut develop a 3-Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza. It was the company's first permanent new pizza in almost two decades.
The dairy industry influenced school boards to use dairy products in the cafeteria. They claim that dairy products contain calcium and therefore create strong bones. But that is a lie. Countries that consume the most dairy also have more osteoporosis than the rest of the world.
Dairy-funded studies often find that dairy foods protect against stroke and heart disease. Yogurt companies want us to believe that probiotics in yogurt offer health benefits.
Another thing we need to look out for in our food is GMOs.
GMO stands for genetically modified organism. You create a GMO by taking genes from species and inserting them into another. Genetic engineering is different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks.
GMOs can tolerate herbicides. This feature lets the farmer spray a weed-killer on the crop without killing it. When farmers buy GMO seeds, they also have to buy the company’s corresponding herbicide.
We have no real proof that GMOs are safe for human consumption. The FDA claims that GMOs are safe because ordinary vegetables are. According to the law, you can’t patent living organisms like vegetables. But food companies can license GMO products.
If GMOs are the same thing as natural vegetables then why are they able to patent them?
The United States doesn't want to label GMOs. Neither consumers nor manufacturers know how much GMO content is in the food. The FDA does not require safety studies. Instead, if the makers of the G.M. foods claim that they are safe, the agency has no further questions. The largest risk factor with GMOs is the herbicides used.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. The World Health Organization labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic.”
In the U.S., three major crops are mostly GMOs, soy, corn, and cotton. Almost 98% of Canadian grown Canola is genetically engineered for herbicide resistance.
U.S. sugar beet production is over 95% GMO. Also look out for GMO sweet corn, papaya, zucchini, and yellow summer squash. They are for sale in grocery stores but in far lesser amounts.
The safest way to avoid GMOs is to buy organic products. They can’t use G.M. ingredients or herbicides.
Do you believe that you need to take supplements to be healthy? If so you have to read the next section carefully.
The supplement industry is a billion dollar industry. They need people to believe that our food lacks nutrients so that they can sell their products.
There are pills, powders, liquids, nutrition bars, “health” drinks, and fortified foods. High profits and consumers’ desires for quick fixes keep the system going.
There is no real proof that their products work. If there are any benefits it is because of the placebo effect. Manufacturers do not have to prove the safety and effectiveness of their products.
We often hear that our soil does not contain enough nutrients. But the only people that repeat that lie work for the supplement industry. Our food contains all the nutrients that we need to be healthy.
The USDA has a massive database of the nutrient content of foods. You can look at the nutritional value of different foods on their website. If you search for raw broccoli, you can clearly see that it contains nutrients. It's better to get your nutrition from whole foods than supplements.
The food we eat affects our bodies differently than supplements. A nourishing diet consists of many different nutrients that interact with each other. Proper nutrition begins as we chew whole foods into smaller parts and swallow them.
Have you ever known a person who has lost 100 pounds by taking supplements? Or a person that cured their type-2 diabetes through vitamin and mineral therapies? I don't think so.
Get your vitamins by eating a whole food plant-based diet, as a supplement will never compare to real food. Starches, vegetables, and fruits are the best way to deliver these nutrients to the body.
The food industry is also notorious for manipulating and funding nutrition studies.
In the 1950s, the tobacco industry was well aware that cigarettes led to lung cancer. Even so, they embarked on campaigns to deny that cigarettes were harmful.
The tobacco industry produced the model which the food industry copied. Some strategies the food industry uses to sell its products include:
Nutrition is a complex science. We eat an enormous variety of foods and diets. Everything else we do also varies. Humans are terrible test subjects.
We cannot lock them in cages and feed them controlled diets. Most studies of nutrition and health are observational rather than experimental. Therefore the experiments are vulnerable to interpretation biases.
Most academics live in a “publish or perish” environment. Their career advancements depend on them winning grants and publishing in prestigious journals.
Universities expect them to get grants to pay for research supplies, and salaries. Government agencies funded about half of all food and nutrition studies. But a decline in federal funding changed everything.
By 2013, industry and foundations accounted for 70% of food-related research. Most food companies use studies as a marketing tool, not to make people healthy.
Food companies want to sell products. Researchers want to get grants. Industry funding often goes for projects aimed at developing, defending, and marketing products.
Not all food products promote health. Therefore the goals of nutrition science don't align with the food companies. Industry-funded studies often have favorable results to the sponsor’s interests.
They expect that studies will yield evidence of health benefits or they will not fund them. Researchers can skew studies to show benefits. They can focus on single nutrients, ingredients, or foods rather than the diet.
Or they can design trials without randomization, blinding, or appropriate comparisons. The food industry has a vested interest in keeping the public confused. Many scientists are on the payroll of food companies.
Journals have responded to this trend by making scientists disclose their financial ties. Not everyone reveals it, and many disclosures are incomplete.
So how can you protect yourself from this bias?
It is vital that you learn how to distinguish between a good or a bad study. One of the first things you need to look at is the financial disclosure. Industry-funded studies are for the most part biased and untrustworthy.
Studies differ in how much of the whole picture they can show. A decades-long population study tells us much more than a lab study conducted over a few days. The shorter the study, the less it costs.
Here are six things you should look for before trusting studies:
You have to guard against believing in something just because of a single study. One paper cannot prove or disprove anything. You need to look at a cluster of research before you can draw any conclusions.
Some researchers are more trustworthy than others. When you encounter a research article, look at the authors. What institution are they affiliated with? Where did they get their funding for this study? Many journals require authors to state any potential conflicts of interest.
Sometimes researchers hide their funding by taking industry money for unrelated research projects. In this way, they don’t have to disclose it in any particular article. Industry fundings almost always influence the outcome of a study.
Randomized controlled clinical trials are often seen as the gold standard of research. The pyramid below explains what study designs are more reliable.
Different Study Designs
A case report is an article that describes and interprets an individual case. It is often written as a detailed story. Many consider case reports as the lowest level of evidence. They are the first line of proof. This is why they form the base of the pyramid.
A case-control study compares patients who share the same outcome with a control group. It looks back to examine how exposure to a risk factor is present in each group. Then they determine the relationship between the risk factor and the disease.
Case-control studies are observational. They don't try to intervene or alter the course of the disease. The goal is to determine the exposure to the risk factor from each of the two groups.
Case-control studies are also known as "retrospective studies" and "case-referent studies."
A cohort study is an observational analysis of groups of people. They can be forward-looking (prospective) or backward-looking (retrospective).
Scientists may ask participants to record specific things throughout a study. Then, they can analyze any possible correlations between lifestyle factors and disease.
The Nurses' Health Study is one example of a large cohort study.
Randomized Control Trial
A randomized control trial randomly assigns participants into a specific group. It can either be an experimental group or a control group. Scientists highly regard randomized controlled clinical trials.
Trials mean that you take a bunch of people and do something to them, then reports on the result. Clinical refers to medical professionals monitoring the progress of the trial.
Controlled means that you include a new group or groups that get no treatment or a variation of it.
Randomized tells us that the participants get a random assignment to any of the groups.
A practice guide is a statement produced by a panel of experts. They offer an extensive review of the literature.
A systematic review is a research study that collects and looks at multiple studies. It provides a detailed analysis of all relevant studies on a particular health topic. Experts then base recommendations, or guidelines, on these findings.
A meta-analysis is a statistical analysis of many scientific studies. It has become a popular approach for summarizing a large number of clinical trials. It also resolves the discrepancies raised by these trials.
A statistical analysis tells us if a given result represents a true outcome and is not a random chance. Statistical adjustment allows researchers to find nuggets of truth obscured by other data. Look at how the researchers analyzed their data and see if it is reasonable.
Good scientists are humble and cautious. They are transparent about their work so that others can try to disprove it.
Most scientific articles have a discussion section. These discussions often include the authors’ opinions on the shortcomings of the study. Read this to understand the significance of the results better.
Before you accept a study, you need to ask if the results make sense in the real world. Some authors come up with hypotheses without real-life application. This is especially true when they lack knowledge about the subject of their research.
10 food companies control most of the food market.
The food industry uses sugar, salt, and fat to get us hooked on junk foods.
Food companies use a vast amount of marketing tricks to make us buy their products.
Manufacturers use deceitful tricks to make their products look better on camera.
The meat and dairy industry has a massive say in today’s food policies.
The federal government plays an essential role in the promotion of dairy.
GMOs can contain glyphosate which can cause cancer.
There is no real proof that supplements work.
Our food contains all the nutrients that we need to be healthy.
The food industry is notorious for manipulating and funding nutrition studies.
Food companies use studies as a marketing tool, not to make people healthy.
You need to learn to distinguish between a good or a bad study.
1. Eat a whole food plant-based diet
2.Learn more about food additives and avoid them
If you want to be healthy and avoid cancer you need to stay away from processed junk foods. The best way to do that is to educate yourself about the things manufacturers put into their foods.
We created a free 47-page e-book that exposes the stuff added to processed food. Download this guide to learn how to read food labels and avoid toxic food additives.
Another thing you need to do is to eat a low-fat whole food plant-based diet. On page 46 in our food additive guide, you get some tips on how to start eating a healthier diet.
Simon Persson is a holistic cancer blogger with a passion for natural health cures. When he is not blogging, he enjoys nature, cooking and learning about the latest gadgets on the market.
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