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Re: [pct-l] Trail food

>From: Brick Robbins <brick@fastpack.com>

>I'm not sure why blisterfree says the labels are not "entirely honest." Due 
>to variations in source material, the labels are not always accurate for 
>every product, but they should be pretty good over a wide sampling of 

Brick, I'm not a nutritionist or a food research scientist, but I do have 
access to books written by them. As do all of us. :) Check out Paul Stitt's 
"Beating the Food Giants," which discusses the corruption and dishonesty in 
the food industry, as allowable by law under the FDA's lax policies. For 
example, he points out that while the food labels may not outright lie about 
the ingredients listed or the nutritional content, they often tell only part 
of the story. Take for example the vitamin content of a product. Check out a 
box of durum semolina, any old brand, and note the vitamin percentages. 
Looks pretty good, doesn't it? Now check out a box of whole wheat pasta, or 
corn pasta, and compare. By golly, these products appear to be nutritionally 
impoverished by comparison. How can this be, when "faith" tells us (and 
faith can be a powerful thing) that a grain in its whole state (with bran 
and germ) is far more nutritious than one which has had the bran and germ 
removed? That is, when whole wheat or whole corn must contain more nutrition 
than some bleached version of these products selling for 49 cents a pound.

The answer, of course, is that the durum semolina has been "enriched" or 
fortified with synthetic vitamins, which is the companies' way of attempting 
to put back what they took out during processing. The reason for this is 
economics, of course, but the real tragedy is that the FDA labeling makes no 
distinction between synthetic and naturally occuring vitamins. To the 
layman, these nutritionally bankrupt products appear entirely wholesome. 
Study upon study has proven otherwise, on lab rats and such, but the public 
knows nothing of the matter, because the food labels tell only "part of the 
truth." And all concerned parties know that the food labels are all that the 
average consumer is looking at, if that.

Faith can be a powerful thing. Faith tells me that Wonder Bread doesn't have 
much nutrition, regardless of what the label says. But what about "100% 
Whole Wheat" bread, as we find labeled on breads to and fro? Turns out that 
no bread on the market contains 100% Whole Wheat, at least in the way one 
would naturally discern that term. It seems to say that the product is 
nothing but whole wheat - bran, germ, nutrition and all. But such a bread is 
very difficult to bake, because it doesn't rise very well. So no company 
attempting to stay alive in a cutthroat industry would dare try to make 
something like that. Instead, they include whole wheat in whatever amount 
deemed suitable, and then they smack the 100% Whole Wheat label on there - 
legally - because the portion of the bread containing whole wheat is "100% 
whole wheat." Cute, isn't it? And the FDA nods and winks.

Breads, among many other products, can also contain trace ingredients that 
they are not legally required to list. For instance, if occuring in 
quantities under 2% of total content, breads can contain things such as, 
believe it or not, sawdust and benzoil pyroxide. Apparently sawdust is a 
favorite among the diet bread makers, since it has zero calories, and it 
helps to bulk the product up. The ingredient, "spices," can contain any 
number of chemicals, including MSG, and the company does not have to 
indicate such even if the MSG content were as high as 40%...

You read enough of this sort of thing, and you start to lose all faith in 
the food industry. At the very least, the FDA labels appear utterless 
worthless in terms of indicating what it is we're eating, and what the 
actual nutrition of the food might be. The science being used here is just 
not useful to the consumer, as presented to them. So what do we do? We turn 
to faith. Faith in our own ability to determine what is and is not healthy, 
energy-providing food. This is not science, for sure. To an extent, I agree 
that the person who has faith in Twinkies, for instance, might be able to 
run on enthusiasm alone for a while (placebo effect, as Brick says). But 
eventually, the true nature of the Twinkie :) would surface, and the hiker's 
body and mind would respond accordingly. If Twinkies, or hamburgers, provide 
adequate nutrition for that particular hiker, then all may be well. But if 
they do not, then the mind and body will say so. And if the hiker is paying 
attention, then he should be able to correct the problem on his own, without 
scientific support.

>I suspect that Corn works best for some folks, while Twinkies work better 
>for others.

I figure if one were to take 20 people who were truly interested in their 
health and in maintaining energy, put them on the PCT for 2600 miles, and 
give them access to any foods they wanted, they would soon single out the 
truly nutritious foods. The "ultimate trail diet" would still be a hazy and 
subjective notion, but at least we'd prove that the hiker can figure these 
things out on his or her own. If we can't trust the FDA, then we don't need 

- Blisterfree

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