Are We Being Robbed?

June 30, 2010 in Diabetic Menu Item, Foodland, Mediterranean by Joyce Bunderson

Are we being robbed? Yes, increasingly, our foods are being robbed of anything real and perishable that costs more than an artificial substitute. In other blogs we have called these highly processed offerings food-like substances. This is NOT a term of endearment. This past Tuesday I was reading some trade journals and found an article titled Fruit pulp replacer launched for mango juice drinks, published in Food Navigator.  At first, I thought that I was experiencing déjà vu (see Tomato Flavor Instead of Tomato, Humm?). This feeling was mixed with a wave of indignation and a sense of powerlessness to stand against these huge companies. I’m speaking of the ever-expanding list of food-like substances being created to replace real food.

I feel that I’m a fairly compassionate individual. I want businesses to be successful (though not at the expense of the public’s health). At the same time I understand that the fruit pulp is the most expensive ingredient in fruit juice drinks. I’m so sorry that they face the problem of expensive ingredients. Believe me, we at Dr. Grandma’s understand the expensive ingredient problem in a very intimate way – all our ingredients are real food.  In consequence our prices are much higher than, for example, pancake mixes based on white flour, sugar, and low-quality oil (or none at all). So I’m ‘bleeding’ for the juice companies who decide to turn their more natural food product into “fude”. ….Kind of! OK, so I’m a little sarcastic. I usually don’t use the term “fudes” that Dr. Grandpa likes, because it seems a bit strong in its un-naturalness and sarcasm.  But this case seems to fully deserve it.

Having shared my sympathies for the food companies, I must share the other side of that story. And if I’m going to be fully honest, I should tell you that the other side of the story is where my real passion lies. If you read this blog frequently, you already know that this is where my zeal, my education and my life’s work lies. Seriously, I feel close to tears when I learn what the food industry continues to do in order to widen their profit margins at the expense of the public’s health.

Do we really need juice with some calorie-laden starch used to replace the texture and feel of the pulp that would normally come from the fruit itself?

You may already know that I’m not a big proponent of drinking juice, even juice with the real pulp in it. Don’t forget, drinking juice doesn’t satisfy hunger the way solid food does. It is, therefore, much easier to take in surplus calories with juice. I believe that you’re better off eating the fruit and drinking water.  The fiber (including that very expensive pulp) is actually in the fruit. The fiber is an important part of slowing down the metabolism that turns fruit into blood sugar and other nutrients – this is a good thing.  When you have juice, generally most of the fiber is removed or broken into very small particles; the resulting juice has the ability to drive blood sugar up very quickly. For some people that’s not such a problem, but if you’re struggling to maintain your weight, or to stave off diabetes or to keep your diabetes under control, maybe you should choose fruit more frequently and not have fruit juice very often. Drinking juice creates a secondary problem for our bodies to manage; that is when the spike in blood sugar drops off as quickly as it rose. Then we feel hungry again and the signal goes out from the brain “blood sugar is low. Danger, danger.  Seek food.” How about another glass of sugar, er juice?

But let’s just say that you want to give juice with mango to your healthy child; why would you care if they were replacing the pulp with starch? After all, the starch manufacturer (who is joyful about their new ingredient Precisa Pulp 02) says that their starch creates an “authentic pulpy texture and mouth feel” and helps beverage manufacturers “deliver authentic beverages while keeping costs in check.” Please note the use of the wonderful word “authentic” twice.  Translation from marketing jargon: authentic = fake and fattening, but it takes an expert to tell. I say the issue it is not just about the profit margins of juice manufacturers and the way the juice ‘feels’ in your mouth. It is about consuming foods that optimally contribute to health. Taking out the real pulp and replacing it with starch increases the speed of raising blood sugar – which is something that most of the population does not need. Starch is only one enzyme away from becoming sugar – amylase is right in your mouth just waiting to start the process.

This is another fine example of the need to take control of the ingredients that go into your body or your family’s body. It takes time to get back into your own kitchen, but in the long term, your health and better relationships will repay you many fold. I hope that you will continue to develop some cynicism toward processed foods – and especially toward fake, fattening “fudes.”

The food processors are striving to develop ‘clean label’ products; a new major focus. It is essentially to combat the consumers who are reading labels and trying to avoid certain processed ingredients. The ‘clean labels’ will sometimes mean cleaning the processed non-food substances out of the product.  We will applaud those companies who actually do this.  Unfortunately, the term ‘clean label’ is for some long time going to mean only, that they are getting trickier and trickier in constructing labels.  It is going to get harder and harder to know, exactly what mix of ingredients are in the package. This difficulty in deciphering the label goes for me too. I’ve studied nutrition (formally in school – 2 degrees in nutrition) and done continuing education for decades and can’t always know what’s going on from reading the labels. This starch is such a perfect example. I would look at the label and see a little food starch and think, “Oh that’s not so bad.” But if I realized that they’d taken the fruit pulp out and replaced it with starch, I’d say: – “It’s highway robbery” and “It’s high time for us to fight back!”

How can we fight back?  Actively, by insisting that those who represent us are not bought out by the tremendously powerful food lobbies. We can insist that these representatives repeal food subsidies that have distorted food economics so badly. We can seek laws that level the playing field more between small, local food companies and massive industrialized giants. More personally, we can fight back by controlling the ingredients we use and cooking more at home, while pushing the restaurants we like, to offer more healthy choices. For all of us, both in our own cooking and our restaurant choices, we can firmly select whole foods and reject processed foods. And, we can share our small successes with others. Big changes can be made as a result of many small successes.

The following two recipes use real mango with the pulp included - what an idea! 🙂

Cool Refreshing Cucumber Mango Salsa

Perfect for a summer meal.


1 ½ cup mango, diced

2 cups cucumber, diced

1/3 cup green onion, sliced

1 cup red pepper, diced

¼ teaspoon of chili powder

¼ teaspoon of cumin

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dr. Grandma’s Delight, All-Natural, Zero-Calorie Sweetener

1 tablespoon limejuice


Mix together all of the ingredients. Serve with fish, or chicken.

Prepare the ingredients.

Prepare the ingredients.

Cool Refreshing Cucumber Mango Salsa

"Flavor Up" your favorite meal.

Lively Tropical Chutney

This recipe is designed to add flavor to fish, poultry or red meat.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed

1 cup red onion, chopped

1 cup diced red pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, grated

2 mangoes, diced  (about 1 ½ cups diced mango)

3 cups fresh pineapple, peeled and diced

1/3 cup Dr. Grandma’s Delight all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener

3 tablespoons lime juice

¼ teaspoon ground Cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg


Heat the oil. Stir in the red pepper flakes; sauté for a minute or two, then add the onions. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions are soft, add the ginger and red pepper, and sauté with a slightly higher heat for about 3 or 4 minutes. Finally stir in the mangoes, pineapple, Delight, lime juice, Cayenne pepper, cumin, and nutmeg. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Gather the ingredients.

Simmer the pepper flakes for a moment or two.

Add the onions.

Steam the red peppers and onions.

Add the remaining ingredients.

Mix the ingredients and simmer.

Simmer until fruit is tender - about 25 minutes.

A lively addition to your meal.

We enjoyed the chutney with chicken.

Another delicious option - in a whole wheat tortilla.

A rolled up accompaniment to lunch.