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We Ain’t As Smart As We Think – Killer Popcorn

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

September 5, 2007, NY Times headline: “Doctor Links a Man’s Illness to a Microwave Popcorn Habit” “Lung specialists and even a top industry official say the case raises serious concerns about the safety of microwave butter-flavored popcorn.”

Are you worried? You should be. Even if you’re a “naturalist” like me who stays clear of artificial and processed foods, just the knowledge that our consumer industry, as a whole, messes with our food supply to the extent that it can kill us is more than frightening. Yeah, I ate microwaved popcorn occasionally during college, but the odd taste (and the stomach ache that followed) kept me from making it a habit. Well, that odd taste turns out to be the butter flavoring made from diacetyl, already linked to cases of severe lung damage in popcorn factory workers. Huh?

“We’ve been working on the workplace safety side of this, but the potential for consumer exposure is very concerning.” says counsel for the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the U.S.. Huh?

So, the fact that workers lungs were being destroyed by this stuff wasn’t enough to discontinue its use? They even have a nickname for the disease – “popcorn worker’s lung”. Yet, the subject of consumer exposure never came up? And now? According to this NY Times article, ConAgra Foods (the nations’ largest maker of microwave popcorn) planned to remove diacetyl from its microwave popcorn products “in the near future”.

Mother Nature perfected our food supply, but somehow, we always think we know better while in actuality, we’re mutating our food into nutrition-less, toxic, empty calories. And we pay for it with our health and our wallets. After all, it costs mere pennies to buy kernels and make your own popcorn on a stove top. But we need it in 3 minutes, not 8 and we certainly don’t want to wash a pot, so give us something we can just throw in the trash. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

I’ve always supported the organic and natural foods industry – even before it became popular or widely available. It made sense to me, even then. I don’t know of one food that has been improved or shown to be completely safe with artificial or altered ingredients. Do you?

If this posts seems full of questions, that’s the point. It’s time to wake up and smell the popcorn (wait, don’t do that – it could kill you!). The industry nor the FDA will not protect you. The health of our planet and bodies is in the hands of consumers – Want not. Buy not. Stop the madness!

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3 Responses to “We Ain’t As Smart As We Think – Killer Popcorn”

  1. phyllis diehl Says:

    since i know you around maybe 7 years, i slowly am leaving out processed food from my diet, most of my grocery cart is filled now with fresh vegtables. and why did i wait so long,? its so easy. to steam string beans is probably 3 minutes…a micro is probably even more……is it the advertising that got me hooked?……………..thanks trace for helping me “see” the fresh, local and beautiful food in my “backyard.” thanks again, your grateful student

  2. Sami Grover Says:

    I’m with you Phyllis and TAO – what the heck inspired anyone to think they could improve on teh wonderful thing that is butter??!!!!! It’s actually one of the reasons I married Jenni – call me perverse, but a nutritionist who loves butter over ‘low fat spreads’ was kind of hot.

    When I asked my grandmother why her food was always so good, she used to laugh and say “Butter and cream in everything.” Note – she did not say “Butter-flavored lung destroying substitute in everything.”

    Anyhow, I’m digressing on the butter aspect of this (I love butter, as you may be able to tell), but the point is that taste is about so much more than the reactions on your tongue which makers of artificial additives try to break it down to – it’s texture, it’s aroma, it’s looks and, when it’s at it’s best, it’s your emotional and intellectual reaction to the food and its story in getting to you. CArlo Pettrini said something very smart about this in a speech Jerry forwarded to me. I can’t remember it now.

    On another note – here is some VERY scary stuff – man-made chemicals are apparently causing a 2 to 1 shift in the ratio of girls vs boys born in the Arctic:

    Time to wise up, and fast! Thanks TAO.


  3. The Tao of Change » Blog Archive » Bratwurst AND a Better World Says:

    […] and thanking the people that bring it to our tables. (And it’s about turning our back on lung-destroying popcorn once and for all.) Fortunately, it’s also about eating great […]

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