From the Left



Ultraprocessed Foods Are Everywhere, and the Corporate Manufacturers Do Not Care About Your Health

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp on

In my quest to eat healthier as an adult, I've encountered a lot of meat and dairy alternatives along with low-fat and sugar-free treat options that claim to be better choices. Many of these products are also marketed as organic. Like the almond milk I buy. I choose not to eat mass-produced animal products because of the unethical and inhumane conditions found in corporate farming. What I failed to realize was that the corporate atmosphere of processed food marketed as healthy is equally horrific.

I just finished reading the book "Ultra-Processed People: The Science Behind Food That Isn't Food" by Chris van Tulleken. It feels like a paradox to have food that is certified organic also be laden with chemicals and additives, but apparently it's not. Just because something is labeled organic does not mean that it's not an ultraprocessed food.

Tulleken shows readers time and time again that we do not have a food system built on nutrition and what's best for the human body. We have a food system that is based on corporations building global markets to sell products with no regard for how it affects our biology. Like everything else, it boils down to greed, while also preying upon our most vulnerable, already marginalized human populations.

The examples given in the book reminded me of a scientist I once worked with on an academic writing project. He told me what it was like for him to work as a corporate food scientist. One of his projects was to figure out how to remove weight from frozen waffles so they'd be cheaper to ship. That was the job. Nutrition didn't matter. The waffles just had to stay the same size, taste the same and weigh less to save on shipping costs for the company.

Corporations do not care about your health. They only care that you buy their products.

What's equally awful is that Tulleken details for the reader how these companies are permitted to self-regulate for safety. The Food and Drug Administration is supposed to oversee safety of food additives in the United States. However, the FDA permits corporations to self-determine if their food additives are safe for human consumption.


Corporate America doesn't have enough forethought to be concerned about the implications their manufacturing practices have for climate change. They don't care about the Indigenous cultures they prey upon to farm raw materials either. Why would I ever trust them to have my long-term health concerns top of mind when it comes to artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, binders and emulsifiers? I am disappointed I trusted the label marketing that presented products as good for you.

Tulleken shows throughout the book how all of this affects our body, and not only in terms of your body weight. His unpopular analysis shows readers that no, obesity isn't your fault, and no, your struggle to maintain a healthy weight is not an excess fat, sugar or salt issue. Nor is it an exercise failure. Just like inflammation diseases, thyroid disease, anxiety, depression and cancer are not your fault either. All of these diagnoses have a trail that leads back to what manufacturers are putting in edible products. I can't even call it food after reading this book.


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