Alongside an untamed stream in Idaho, a Newt Minow might be something you’d have squirreled away in your tackle box.
In the history of media, though, Newton N. Minow is remembered as the Federal Communications Commission chairman who famously referred to American television as a “vast wasteland.” Incredibly, Newt had this insight in 1961, long before anyone imagined a digital universe without either downward limits or uplifting purpose.
Today’s processed food landscape is a lot like that: a wasteland of contrived foods, hollow calories and astonishingly bad choices. The folks at WebEcoist have chronicled a few examples of the corrosive reality programming industrial conglomerates are piping into the modern American food chain:
“Fertilizer in Subway Sandwich Rolls: While chemical fertilizers inevitably make it into our produce in trace amounts, you would not expect it to be a common food additive. However, ammonium sulfate can be found inside many brands of bread, including Subway’s. The chemical provides nitrogen for the yeast, creating a more consistent product.”
“Beef Fat in All Hostess Products: While this may not bother the most ardent omnivore, others are shocked to discover that their favorite childhood treats contain straight-up beef fat. The ingredient comes included on a list of other oils that may or may not be used, so it is always a gamble!”
“Beetle Juice in Sprinkles and Candies: You know that shiny coating on candies like Skittles? Or the sprinkles on cupcakes and ice cream sundaes? Well, they get that glaze from the secretions of the female lac beetle. The substance is also known as shellac and commonly used as a wood varnish.”
“Coal Tar in Red-Colored Candy: Coal tar is listed as number 199 on the United Nations list of ‘dangerous goods,’ but that doesn’t stop people from using it in food. The coloring Allura Red ACg is derived from coal tar and is commonly found in red-colored candies, sodas and other sweets.”
“Sand in Wendy’s Chili: Sand is hidden in Wendy’s chili as a name you might remember from high school chemistry class: silicon dioxide. Apparently they use sand as an ‘anti-caking agent,’ perhaps to make sure the chili can last for days and days over a heater.”
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