Melanie Warner: Where Do Vitamins Added To Processed Foods Come From? The Answer May Surprise You
Mar 1, 2013 | democracynow
Watch the entire interview with Melanie Warner on Democracy Now! at http://bit.ly/Z2Bo6d.
We ask longtime food journalist Melanie Warner, author of the new book,
"Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal,"
to describe where the vitamins added back into processed ingredients and
fast food come from.
MELANIE WARNER: One of the things with
processed food that I found while doing this book, is not only that it
has an abundance of the things that Michael was talking about—salt,
sugar, fat—it's also what it's lacking, which, it turns out, is
naturally occurring nutrition, in many cases. So that's vitamins and
minerals and fiber and things like antioxidants.
So, you take
something like cereal—you know, you walk down the cereal aisle, and
you're bombarded with health messages: It's high in vitamin D, a good
source of calcium, fiber, antioxidants. You see these things all over
the package. And one of the things—one of the questions I asked myself
when I was starting to work on this book was: Why is it nearly
impossible to find a box of cereal in the cereal aisle without vitamins,
added vitamins and minerals, in the ingredient list?
turns out, because most cereal has very little inherent nutrition. And
this is in part because of processing. The processing of food is very
intensive. It's very—it's very technical, and with cereal, can be very
damaging to naturally occurring nutrients, especially vitamins and
oftentimes fiber. So, what manufacturers do is they add back in
vitamins. So, essentially, you see all these wonderful claims on the
package, but essentially—and you look at the panel, and you're getting
35 percent and 40 percent of your recommended daily allowance of these
vitamins, but they're essentially added in like a vitamin pill, which
many people maybe are already taking in the morning.
And I was
really surprised to learn where some of these vitamins come from. I
never really thought about it in much detail, as probably most people
don't. But it turns out that they're—these vitamins are not coming from
the foods that contain them. Like vitamin C does not come from an
orange, and vitamin A does not come from a carrot. It's very far from
that. They come from things that really aren't actually foods. Vitamin
D, for instance, was probably the most shocking. It comes from sheep
grease, so actually the grease that comes from sheep wool. You have
giant barges and container ships that go from Australia and New Zealand
over to China, where most of—a lot of our vitamins are produced. About
50 percent of global vitamin production comes from China inside these
huge factories, very industrial processes. A lot of vitamins are
actually chemical processes.
Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,100+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday.