Hey! What do you think is in your kid’s birthday cake?
- a) material used in yoga mats for good “mouthfeel”
- b) rat hair for texture
- c) chameleon dung for color
- d) beaver intestines for creaminess
- e) sodium benzoate and sodium propionate so that it can sit on your shelf for ever and ever
(a) and (e) —although b,c, and d wouldn’t necessarily be worse… Yes, people, I am here to yuck your yum, but you will thank me in the end. It sucks to give up some of your favorite comfort foods but it sucks more to be chronically ill, or to be obese or diabetic or to have an auto-immune disease or cancer. And most of all it sucks to be dead, especially in the prime of your life. I am trying to save you from all of those possibilities.
My conversation in the check-out line at a supermarket chain:
Scene: a woman ahead of me was checking out with nutter butter cookies, which I remember fondly from my youth, when ignorance was bliss and before I got a whole litany of health ailments, one after the other.
Shopper: (looking at my cake and candles): Someone’s gonna be happy!
Me: (stifling a laugh. Should I keep my mouth shut and smile? I don’t think so.): Actually, I’m writing a blogpost about all of the disgusting ingredients in this cake. And then I’m going to throw it away.
Shopper (startled, confused): Well that’s too bad.
Me: Not really. It’s pure poison.
Shopper (starting to walk off): Well it’s not like it’s gonna kill you.
Me: If you eat enough, it will.
So here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for.
What is actually in that amazing cake?
The ingredients are too small to read because they’re not meant to be read, so I am featuring them here, nice and large, in all their naked glory:
How about another big chain near you?
Hey! What about these cute little cake-like thingies:
How about a “Natural and Organic” grocer…
What’s wrong with enriched and bleached flour? This heavily processed foodstuff is nutritionally dead. Enriched is industry jargon for “sprayed with synthetic vitamins”, since the real ones have been destroyed in processing. Worse, it is contaminated by all kinds of chemicals–including bleach, and glyphosate from Monsanto’s herbicide Round Up. Read more about modern flour.
What’s wrong with phosphates? If you have chronic kidney disease, high phosphate levels can lead to heart disease and death. If you don’t have kidney disease, phosphates will increase cardiovascular risk. Why?
What’s wrong with soybean and cottonseed oil? These are the two dirtiest oils. Genetically modified and packed with carcinogenic pesticides. Cottonseed is a byproduct of industial waste from cotton farming. Read more about it here.
What’s wrong with azodicarbonamide? This chemical is found in yoga mats and makes them stretchy. It also makes bread stretchy. But it’s linked to respiratory issues, allergies, and asthma and it’s banned in Europe and Australia. How did it end up in the food supply?
What’s wrong with BHT? It’s an endocrine disruptor. Some animal studies have linked it to lung and liver tumors and neurobehavioral damage to motor skills and coordination. Read about this and other food preservatives.
What’s wrong with aluminum in foods? Aluminum additives like sodium aluminum phosphate can accumulate in our bodies, particularly in bones. It can affect behavior, learning ability, and motor reflexes. There is a possible link to Alzheimers. Why?
What’s wrong with artificial flavors? A couple of things. You have no clue what’sin your food. It could be anything. The company gets to hide it, while making fake food taste real.
What’s wrong with natural flavors. These sound better but they aren’t. They are a smokescreen and a guise for anything the company wants to use. Like Monosodium Glutamate. Or something that you might be allergic to. Even synthetic chemicals, solvents, and preservatives fall under this umbrella because it’s an ill-defined term that invites industry abuse. Understand “natural flavors”.
What’s wrong with artificial colors? Many artificial colors are linked to hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders in children. Blue 1 is associated with an increased risk of kidney tumors and may be a neurotoxin. Caramel color is created by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure; this produces a substance which is a probable carcinogen—4-methylimidazole. Red dye is known to cause attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s also suspected to cause some birth defects and cancers. Here’s a list of the worst offenders—many of them banned in other countries.
What’s wrong with esters of monoglycerides/diglycerides? These are hidden forms of transfat. They do not appear on the label because of a technicality—the FDA considers these chemicals emulsifiers instead of lipids. So the label can say “0% trans fat” even though it’s full of transfats. These are are linked to diabetes, heart disease, and 20 thousand heart attacks each year.
What’s wrong with TBHQ? This preservative has a detrimental effect on the body’s T-cells and can actually promote food allergies. Read my article about it.
What’s wrong with imitation vanilla extract? Well, for starters, it doesn’t come from vanilla beans. It used to be extracted from a beaver’s glands, but this process is messy and expensive, so most manufacturers now use the waste products from paper mills. Wood pulp extract doesn’t sound as glamorous as vanilla so you won’t see that on the label, and the FDA isn’t concerned that customers are deceived. Now you know.
What’s wrong with high fructose corn syrup? Made from GMO corn, this sweetener increases appetite and is associated with weight gain, type 2 diabetes (especially in children), heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Find out all the reasons it’s bad for you.
What’s wrong with partially hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenation makes a liquid oil solid at room temperature and it becomes a transfat. Transfats are linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Their health risks are now undeniable and FDA has finally decided to ban them in foods. But manufacturers can still apply for a permit to continue using it.
I could go on, and on, and on (and you know I want to, lol). But you get the point.
How on earth?
…did we get to this place where your neighborhood store is selling a monstrosity disguised as a cake but made in a lab that is basically poison sprinkled with poison for your child’s birthday?
It’s a long story, one that is told wistfully in the pages of this blog. In a nutshell, the industry operates with basically no oversight and makes its own regulations, and its sole purpose is profit. Why use butter when you can use cheap vegetable shortening, why use real eggs when you can use a factory-produced foodstuff called a “dry egg white”? How come we’re not all rebelling? How come we’re giving this to our kids?
OK, sermon over. Please read ingredients. There should be no more than 8-10, unless there’s a bunch of herbs for seasoning. If there’s over 8 grams of sugar, it’s dessert, and if there’s more than about 15 grams of sugar, it’s Satan beckoning you from the underworld.
Want to know more? Check out the Environmental Working Group’s analysis of chemicals in your food.
Want to express your dissatisfaction?
- Randall’s corporate office: 713-781-1619
- HEB corporate office: 210-938-8357
- Sprouts corporate office: 480-814-8016
Don’t live in Texas? I bet you’ll find similar ingredients at a big box store near you. Unless you live in Europe where it’s harder to find crap like this. I’d love to hear what you discover now that you’re aware, so please share your experiences with our readers!
Learn more about transfats (hydrogenated oils)
Hopefully you’ll decide you don’t want them in your cake, or anything else you eat!
How to make a normal cake.
This is what your grandma used.
How to make a better cake.
Here are some fun, delicious ideas. All made with pure, real ingredients, and not too much sugar.
You’ll notice a common thread:
- coconut flour and almond flour, which are way healthier than gluten and the standard gluten substitutes. Adding tapioca flour will make it higher on the glycemic index but you may prefer the way the cake holds together.
- maple syrup or honey instead of sugar. It’ll make the cake more dense and less fluffy, which may or may not matter to you. Experiment a little to see what you like.
But what if I just want to walk into a store and buy a cake?
Then walk into a better store, one that is committed to better quality products. Stay away from big chains. Look for something local. Is there a natural grocer? A co-op? A bakery? Do a google search. Who makes cakes in your town or city? If it has to be a chain, try Whole Foods, but you’ll still need to read ingredients—most items are free from toxic synthetic chemicals but they still use soybean oil and other crap in some of their products. Ask questions. Can they supply an ingredient list? Is the cake par-baked? That essentially means pre-baked in another facility, then shipped to the store to “top off”. This trick fills the store with the aroma of freshly baked goods.
Too expensive? Buy a smaller, better quality cake. Maybe just a single serving for the birthday boy or girl. Trust me, the increase in price is still galaxies cheaper than the cost of medication and medical intervention resulting from a diet of toxic chemicals.
So what desserts does the GFF recommend?
Glad you asked. I just compiled a list of Good Food Fighter approved desserts—some local to Austin, some originally from Austin and now available elsewhere, and some available across the US. Check it out!