What Is In Your Food


Photo by Hannah Reinhold
Senior Erin Romph enjoys lunch in the Senior courtyard. She brings her own food every day to school.

“I make an effort to eat consciously; I want to eat fresh and natural foods because it literally makes me feel better,” said Erin Romph.

Many food additives have proven to cause harmful side effects such as brain tumors, emotional disorders, seizures, and in extreme cases, death. When was the last time you checked the ingredients in your food?

Diet Coke, for example, contains carbonated water, artificial color E150d (caramel), aspartame, ascesulfame-k, flavorings, phosphoric acid, citric acid, and sources of phenylalanine.

Are you aware of what these ingredients actually are? Well, let’s look at the third ingredient of Diet Coke, aspartame. This artificial sweetener is one of the most common and harmful food additives. Aspartame is most commonly found in foods labeled as “diet” or “sugar free”. It is a neurotoxin, or nerve poison, and a carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent.

According to food.matters.tv, studies have proven aspartame to “erode intelligence and affect short-term memory…[as well as] lead to a wide variety of ailments including brain tumor[s], diseases like lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue,” and so the list goes on.

The fourth ingredient of Diet Coke is ascesulfame-k, also an artificial sweetener, which has yet to be thoroughly tested but has been linked to causing kidney tumors.

The second main active ingredient in Diet Coke is the artificial color E150d, studies have shown that some artificial colorings may “lead to significant reduction in IQ”. Countries throughout Europe have taken the initiative to ban such common food dyes.

Senior Erin Romph is one of many who are taking the first steps towards incorporating healthier foods into their diet. A cleanse that the Romph family tackled together last November got Erin’s eating habits rolling towards a more holistic approach.

Steps such as reading nutrition labels, researching ingredients, and choosing healthier options are ways to start eating consciously.

You have the right to know what is in your food, and the FDA has now made that possible by requiring a nutrition label on packaged food products. However, companies don’t go as far as to tell you on nutrition labels what things like aspartame actually mean for you and your body.

Senior Ben Schreck explains it’s more important to satiate his hunger with whatever is available at the moment than waiting for healthier options to choose from later on.

“I’ll eat whatever as long  as I am hungry,” said Schreck. “But I do make an attempt to eat somewhat of a balanced diet.” Ben packs a vegetable and fruit into his lunch box along with a lunchable.

“Pretty much the only time I check a nutrition label is to read the recommended servings,” said Schreck, who’s not so much as concerned with the ingredients but limiting the intake of food in his diet.

“Sometimes I can’t seem to avoid them, artificial food additives are nearly everywhere,” said sophomore Druanna Darling. The Darling family enjoys cooking and preparing their own meals at home and buying their ingredients from health foods stores such as Sawalls on Oakland. On the rare occasions when Darling does eat out, she eats at locally owned restaurants that support local farmers by choosing to buy their locally grown and harvested produce.