The Ingredients Not Listed In Your Food (It’s In The Packaging!)

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Ever wondered how chips and popped corn can stay “fresh” and not go stale for month (even years) on the shelf, but a day after you open it after you purchase from the store those once crispy chips ain’t so crispy anymore? Or have you ever air-popped corn yourself and tried to store it for the next day….all to wake up the next morning to stale popped corn? There’s a reason!

In short, it’s the packaging! Yes, ingredients DO count and are super important. Ingredients do play a part in preserving….but that’s not what I want to point out in this post. Say the ingredients ARE in fact, good. You checked. All seems clean, no chemicals, no gums, all real food. But how does that real food stay fresh for so long inside a box and bag?

I’ve often bought bagged spinach (I mean, hey, it’s so convenient!) and the very next day after I open the bag the leaves are wilted. But whenever I buy non-packaged spinach, they seem to stay fresh longer in my fridge. The reason is that bagged spinach isn’t as fresh as you think. It’s actually being preserved by the chemicals sprayed into the bag. DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION?

Chips, Crackers, and Cookies:
These are not filled with just air, but of nitrogen gas. Filling the bags with nitrogen keeps them from being crushed, and if filled with oxygen, the fat in the chips (for example) would oxidize and taste funny. Now nitrogen is a part of the air we breath, but I’m pointing this out because it is still aAnd most of these bags are made out of polypropylene (a moisture barrier) and in order to strengthen the material, many have a thin aluminum coating on the inside.

Salad Bags:
Similar to chip bags, bagged greens and ready-to-serve salad mixes are made of polypropylene, and also filled with nitrogen gas. Now, to be clear, nitrogen is a part of the air we breath so I don’t want there to be any confusion….but just pointing this out to 1) inform you and 2) note that’s one way leaves and chips stay fresher longer (being preserved) and then go rancid super fast after opening, which makes us more prone to consume rancid goods unknowingly (thought the product may look ok) Unlike chips and crackers, salad greens need to breathe with a little bit of oxygen. Ever see tiny needle holes in those bags? Those microperforations allow oxygen to come in and carbon dioxide to flow out.
And unlike chip and cracker bags, the inside of these bags have a thin, anti-fog coating to eliminate condensation….making it easy to see the beautiful leafy greens.

But What If It’s Organic?
Yes, even organic food can be packaged in toxic packaging. Fewer than 40 synthetic substances can be used in organic packaged foods as opposed to an estimated 2,000 synthetic chemicals can be used in conventional packaged foods (crazy!). So organic packaged food is much better than conventional, but is still allowed per this report.

I’ve reached out to several health food companies asking what they line their bags with, but I either got no response or ones like this:

But even without asking, it’s a no brainer. Just look at the inside of the packaging. And if a company doesn’t use the conventional method, they will proudly make sure it’s known to the public! One company I know that used compostable packaging is Hnina Gourmet. I’ve known them for years personally and they make sure they only use safe, recyclable, non-toxic packaging for all their raw, sprouted treats (another reason why they are so expensive but you get what you pay for and they sure are worth it!) Vapour Beauty is another brand that used toxic free packing for your organic makeup. Any if you are curious about anything, reach out to the company yourself! Be your own advocate.

Now, all this said, it doesn’t mean I will never buy a bag of chips or packaged spinach again in my life. However, I will be making more conscious decisions when purchasing items. In fact, it not only is healthier to buy fresh veggies and make your own chips, but it’s also cheaper and less wasteful! The point of this post is to inform you (not to scare you) of what may be leaking into your food beyond the ingredients. There’s more thought and ingenuity than you realize. That’s why whenever I can, I always make food and snacks from scratch. Just something to be mindful of. I’ve always been one to eat less packaged snacks and have noticed a HUGE difference in my digestion and health….Eating a packaged product won’t kill you (obviously) and I do it too! And if I see you eating a bag of chips, popped corn, a bar, or crackers on Instagram, I won’t flag you down or judge. Haha We all need to live our lives….just live it with more knowledge.

As always, appreciate your support and look forward to hearing your thoughts on Instagram!

@lilsipper

Sources:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814615302715
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3385451/
https://www.onsitegas.com/blog/2017/09/18/nitrogen-gas-in-food-packaging/
https://www.polymersolutions.com/applications/film-layer-analysis/

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