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The Whole Truth About Whole Foods: The Not-So-Organic Grocery Store

Although Whole Foods is marketed as a grocery store that sells the “finest natural and organic foods available,” that’s not the whole truth regarding the products they sell and the food they prepare in-house.

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Right off the bat, I’d like to make it clear that this is not a hate piece against Whole Foods. I’ll be the first to admit that the store offers a wide range of organic and plant-based foods, making it easier for the health conscious among us to find quality organic food and beverage products.

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However, that’s not all Whole Foods sells, and I’d like to bring further awareness to that. Although Whole Foods has an incredibly large supply of high-quality, plant-based, organic foods, the retailer also offers a ton of GMO, pesticide-ridden, and unhealthy products.

Although Whole Foods is marketed as a grocery store that sells the “finest natural and organic foods available,” that’s not the whole truth regarding the products they sell and the food they prepare in-house.

The Whole Truth About Whole Foods’ Prepared Foods  

To start, let’s take a look at the foods Whole Foods actually cooks in-house. If you’ve never been to Whole Foods, they have an awesome prepared food bar. Not only is much of the food delicious, organic, and vegan, but there’s a wide range of items to choose from.

Envision a long buffet bar filled with cold foods, another filled with hot foods, and then tons of other prepared foods surrounding the store based on different dietary preferences. Whether you’re looking for baked goods, desserts, salads, cold foods, hot foods, pizza — you name it, Whole Foods probably makes it. 

 And although some of these foods are truly high-quality and healthy for the body, some are not quite as healthy as you’d expect to be eating at a place called “Whole Foods.” For example, in recent years, Whole Foods has been facing a lot of criticism for the oils they use in their prepared foods.

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A lot of the food Whole Foods makes contains canola oil, a low-grade oil that isn’t very good for the body. It is estimated that 95% of canola oil in Canada is genetically modified. The comparison between the number of GMO and non-GMO crops in the U.S is similar, as the U.S. is the leading producer of GM foods globally. Since so many of the crops grown in North America are GM, cross-contamination can easily occur between GMO and non-GMO crops.

Despite the “Organic” sticker on canola oil, there is still a risk of GMO contamination in some crops, particularly ones that are predominantly GMO. GMO contamination can happen in several ways:

  1. cross-pollination between GMO and non-GMO crops
  2. trace amounts of GMO ingredients found in animal feed
  3. seeds traveling by wind
  4. migratory birds taking root in the soil of an organic farm
  5. ingredient suppliers that co-mingle various sources.

That being said, of course organic is always the better option than conventional, but it’s important to note that canola oil is still unhealthy if it’s organic and can still be contaminated with GMOs. Whole Foods maintains that they use a non-GMO canola oil in their foods, although they do sell GMO canola oil in their stores. Keep in mind that pesticides are still used on non-GMO products, because that is not the equivalent to organic.

In addition, when it comes to low-grade oils like canola oil, they still pose health risks even when they’re organic or “expeller-pressed.” They perform similarly in the body as things like margarine and animal fat do, because they still coagulate in your blood (which is associated with blood clotting).

This isn’t the only concern regarding their prepared foods, either. Popular blogger Food Babe reported: “On several occasions, I’ve found less than stellar ingredients hidden in their prepared foods – like GMOs, hidden MSG and the over use of cheap oils like corn, soy, and canola, which I will get to in a minute.”

Again, although lots of the food prepared by Whole Foods is genuinely organic and healthy, it’s clear that not all of the food is healthy. This serves as an excellent reminder for us all to always read ingredients, regardless of where we’re buying our food!

Other Issues With Whole Foods 

Whole Foods is currently under public scrutiny after launching their produce rating program. Tons of organic farmers have vocalized their concerns surrounding this new rating system, as they claim it devalues the organic label and threatens their business models.

Whole Foods’ rating system, Responsibly Grown, was designed to provide customers with more information about how their food is grown. However, suppliers must pay for this rating, resulting in a steep cost for organic farmers.

Organic produce farms are often smaller farms that aren’t owned and operated by rich and powerful corporations like Monsanto. The organic certification is costly enough already, and many farmers can barely afford that, let alone an additional rating system.

The new rating system takes into account much more.

Whole Foods is asking its suppliers to pay a fee to get into the program, then answer a long questionnaire. There are questions about how they protect the soil and wildlife on their farms, whether they limit their use of pesticides, how they conserve energy and irrigation water, and how they treat their workers.

The rating system essentially grades farmers on their produce in regards to pesticide usage, conservation efforts, water usage, and more. Based on these findings, they’re graded as Unrated, Good, Better, or Best. This in theory could create more transparency between farmers and consumers, which would be awesome.

However, farmers have been quick to point out holes in the program. NPR reported:

But here’s what is making organic farmers angry. At a Whole Foods store in Washington, D.C., I found nonorganic onions and tomatoes, presumably grown with standard fertilizers and pesticides, that were labeled “Best.” A few feet away, I found organic onions and tomatoes that were graded merely “Good” or just “Unrated.”

This isn’t the only large-scale issue with Whole Foods. Just last year, Whole Foods was under public scrutiny for supporting GMOs and selling so many GMO foods in their stores. You can read more about that in the following CE article:

Whole Foods Caves To Monsanto To Kill GMO-Labelling Bill?

GMOs aren’t the only cause for concern within the ingredients lists of some of the foods sold at Whole Foods. CE covered another story on this, which you can read below:

Whole Foods Boycott? They Knowingly Sell Dietary Products Significantly Contaminated With Toxic Heavy Metals

Final Thoughts

To be clear, Whole Foods still sells some awesome products. They have a wide range of organic produce and serve as a massive supplier of plant-based and non-GMO foods that are rarely found in conventional grocery stores. For example, I visited the Whole Foods in Hawaii recently and was thrilled to purchase lots of organic plant-based foods, including some products I hadn’t been able to find in Canada, such as the vegan Beyond Meat burgers.

It’s clearly convenient for those of us interested in health to go to a big box store and be able to purchase the products we love that are not only delicious, but healthy for the body as well. However, it’s equally clear that these aren’t the only products Whole Foods sells, as they do sell some non-organic produce and GMO foods.

I’d encourage you to check out some local farmer’s markets instead of going to Whole Foods once in a while. Although local doesn’t mean organic, many markets typically offer organic options, and it’s really nice to be able to support local farms. Plus, the prices are typically a lot more affordable at organic markets than at Whole Foods, where they inflate many of the prices.

At the end of the day, this is a really important lesson for all of us to remember to read the ingredients in everything we buy, whether that be food, drinks, body products, cleaning supplies, or whatever else. Just because something is marketed as being “all-natural” or is sold at a health food store, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.

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Awareness

Johnson & Johnson Found To Have Knowingly Allowed Asbestos In Their Baby Powder

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Johnson and Johnson have recently lost lawsuits for negligence in knowingly allowing carcinogenic substances in their talc-based hygiene products.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we starting to turn the page on an era where human health and safety are not the prime considerations in the manufacturing of consumer products?

We are starting to awaken to the fact that it seems to be the rule, and not the exception, that large Western corporations put profits above human health considerations. The only time they seem to give any regard to human health concerns is when their forecasts of potential lawsuits down the road would likely exceed the cost measures needed to ensure the safety of their product.

Johnson & Johnson is just one of a long line of corporate perpetrators who believed that covering up and lying about known health concerns would make better business sense than taking the time and resources to actually address those health concerns within their products.

Contaminated Baby Powder: The Height Of Indignity

One would think, regardless of an understanding that the bottom line is a priority for most private companies, that the health and safety of a nursing mother and her newborn child would be sacrosanct for any industry. The reality is that this is simply not the case, even though J&J could have mitigated this problem from the start.

Companies that mine talc are required to take extra steps to ensure the absence of asbestos in their talc. Instead, J&J allegedly went to great lengths to fake it.

Not only did the company know about the asbestos contamination, evidence suggests, but J&J also failed to warn its customers about the link between Baby Powder and cancer or replace its talc with a safer alternative. As a result, J&J guaranteed its customers’ exposure to asbestos.

And regardless of their size or numbers, asbestos fibers are lethal at any capacity. As the World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed repeatedly, there is no safe level of exposure. (source)

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The Testimony of Scientist James Webber

Baby Powder’s contamination with asbestos (a mineral that naturally occurs near talc) has long been the subject of lawsuits. But only in recent years has evidence begun to unravel J&J’s defense – that the company had no idea – and threatened its success in lawsuits to come.

In March, a California jury awarded $29 million to Terry Leavitt, a woman who said that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-powder-based products caused her terminal mesothelioma. Environmental scientist James Webber testified in her high-profile California trial and made these observations:

During several hours on the stand, Webber explained how he ran tests that showed “clear” evidence of asbestos contamination in the mines from which J&J sourced talc.

“The testing I have seen [shows] that it was present at least as early as 1971 and up through the late 1990s,” said Webber, who ran an asbestos laboratory in New York state.

Despite denying it publicly, J&J had observed this contamination in internal memos. Its notes dismissed the amount of asbestos in its talc as “but a trace,” Webber alleged. But that was just an optimistic interpretation of superficial testing, he said: the tests used methods too weak to detect microscopic asbestos fibers. Webber insisted the actual tests results revealed there could be millions of asbestos fibers per gram of talc.

And J&J’s inaccurate reports were allegedly only the tip of the iceberg. In some instances, Webber said, photos attached to J&J’s reports revealed that “they had been seeing it and not reporting it.”  (source)

And It’s Getting Worse

The $29 million verdict, in California Superior Court in Oakland, was the latest defeat for the healthcare conglomerate facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide. And things may be getting even worse for J&J, according to ZeroHedge:

Johnson & Johnson shares are down over 5% after Bloomberg reports that, according to people with knowledge of the matter, the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation into whether Johnson & Johnson lied to the public about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder…

Now, a grand jury in Washington is examining documents related to what company officials knew about any carcinogens in their products, the people said.

The Takeaway

It seems as though corporations have long been willing to take the calculated risk of short-cuts and denials instead of ensuring that their products are safe for public use. My suspicion is that a part of our collective awakening process will be issuing in a new business paradigm in which human health and safety become paramount.

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Awareness

Prescription Infant Formulas Found To Be Contaminated With Aluminum

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple brands of prescription infant formula were found to contain high levels of aluminum.

  • Reflect On:

    Should we be questioning the quality of products that come from pharmaceutical production? Do we veer away from natural methods of raising children more than we should? At what cost?

You may not think aluminum is a big deal, but it is. For anybody who has looked into aluminum toxicology, it’s quite clear and apparent that it has no place inside of any living biological organism. Putting it simply, it wreaks havoc on our biology. High amounts of aluminum have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, with experts in the field believing that aluminum brain accumulation may be one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s also been discovered within the brains of MS patients, and some of the highest aluminum content ever recorded in brain tissue has also been discovered in people with autism. Aluminum is associated with several diseases. But an adult body can do a great job of flushing out aluminum.

Despite the fact that aluminum has no place within earth’s biota, it’s still present in many of our medications, our food, and even in the water that we drink due to contamination since the industrial revolution. Aluminum inside the body is a new phenomenon and still understudied. Again, there is a threshold, and aluminum that is injected via vaccines doesn’t exit the body–there is strong evidence that it remains inside the body and ends up in distant organs and eventually inside of the brain. If you want to access more studies on that topic, you can read this article I published that provides them and goes into more detail. You can also watch this interview with Christopher Exley, where he also points to that fact.

A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has shown that multiple popular infant prescriptions are contaminated with aluminum. You may be asking how much aluminum, but the authors make it a point to stress that there are no safe amounts of aluminum levels that can be inside of a human body, let alone a newborn baby. That being said, the amounts found are listed within the abstract of the study:

Historical and recent data demonstrate that off-the-shelf infant formulas are heavily contaminated with aluminium. The origin of this contamination remains to be elucidated though may be imported via ingredients, packaging and processing. Specialised infant formulas exist to address health issues, such as low birth weight, allergy or intolerance and medical conditions, such as renal insufficiency. The aluminium content of these prescription infant formulas is measured here for the first time. We obtained 24 prescription infant formulas through a paediatric clinic and measured their total aluminium content by transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry following microwave assisted acid/peroxide digestion. The aluminium content of ready-to-drink formulas ranged from 49.9 (33.7) to 1956.3 (111.0) μg/L. The most heavily contaminated products were those designed as nutritional supplements for infants struggling to gain weight. The aluminium content of powdered formulas ranged from 0.27 (0.04) to 3.27 (0.19) μg/g. The most heavily contaminated products tended to be those addressing allergies and intolerance. Prescription infant formulas are contaminated with aluminium.

Another very important point made right off the bat by the authors:

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Human exposure to aluminium is a serious health concern. Aluminium exposure in infants is understandably a burgeoning issue. While infant exposure to aluminium continues to be documented, its consequences, immediate and in the future, have received only scant attention and research is required to understand the biological availability of aluminium through formula feeding. For example, how much aluminium is absorbed across the neonate gut and its subsequent fate, including excretion.

There is already too much aluminium in infant formulas and herein we have measured its content in a large number of prescription formulas, products which are fed to vulnerable infants in their first months of life. Many of these products are heavily contaminated with aluminium.

As for the specific infant formulas, you can refer to the study. The researchers obtained 24 prescription infant formulas via the Paediatric Clinic of Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, United Kingdom. The ready-to-drink and powdered products were new, ready-to-be used and unopened samples. These formulas are for babies with some sort of growth restriction, like for preterm infants or infants who have poor weight gain. There were also powdered formulas for allergies and intolerances and powdered formulas with additional amino acids.

The authors contacted each manufacturer and expressed that they denied knowing that there was any aluminum in their products, which means it’s still a mystery as to their source. The authors hypothesize on a number of ways that aluminum could be entering into the formulas.

In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that:

Where possible, breast milk feeding should be prioritised, as the aluminium content of breast milk is invariably an order of magnitude lower than in formula feeds. Where infant formulas are the only source of nutrition for many infants in their first weeks and months of life, aluminium ingested in formula feeds will be the major contributor to their body burden of aluminium. The last thing that vulnerable infants fed specialised formulas for their specific nutritional/medicinal need is additional aluminium in their diet.

Detoxing

There is a lot of information out there on how a person can detox from aluminum and other heavy metals. There are multiple studies, and based on what I’ve looked into, water with high amounts of Silica are effective in draining aluminum out of your body and brain. Herbs like cilantro and substances like chlorella and spirulina are also great for removing some metals. The information is out there, so be sure to do your research.

The Takeaway

It’s concerning to think about what these corporations are doing. Again, aluminum should hold no place in our society, it should’ve remained well below our surface as part of the Earth’s crust for a reason. It wasn’t until humans began digging it out and using it for a number of things, irresponsibly I might add, that we started to see the health implications which still go largely ignored by the medical community.

In fact, heavy metal accumulation and detoxification of aluminum haven’t been addressed at all, which is odd given the fact that heavy metal accumulation is linked to a variety of diseases.

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Awareness

9 Studies You Should Be Aware of Before Trying The Ketogenic Diet

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The Ketogenic diet is a popular fad diet that promotes quick weight loss and symptom management for bodies that are dealing with poor lymph, kidney and digestion health.

  • Reflect On:

    Based on the studies that are emerging, is our desire for quick weight loss more important than living a long and healthy life? Are we learning about these diets primarily through those with strong ties to upholding these diets?

The ketogenic diet has popped up as a popular approach to weight loss in the last few years. Is it successful at that? Sure, it is. I’ve experimented with the diet myself years ago when I was looking to lose some belly fat. I was entering into ketosis in a different way than most, as I was not eating any animal products, but it does in fact work.

But like any animal product based diet, what are the consequences of eating so much food that does not truly jive with our human bodies? Not only that, is fast weight loss more important than keeping our morality rate down?

In the last few years, we’ve reported a lot on the Keto diet and the various ways it can be done. We have explored the studies, the results and in some ways, we supported it. But lately, I have been thinking about how supporting this could actually be encouraging people to jump into these diets, including the paleo diet, when in reality these diets increase mortality rates and are not healthy for the human body.

It became a thought in the back of my mind, I have always strived to put the best information out that I can through this platform to promote good health. And so we must look at that, even if that means upsetting some people who currently are on paleo or keto and are seeing some good weight loss or symptom management. The truth is, like the many people I’ve seen crash on these diets after a few years, I want people to know the truth of what’s going on out there. And how we can get beyond diets that symptom manage, and instead get onto diets that truly heal.

Anytime we have fad diets, which paleo and keto are, we see products and bias pop up all over the place to support the continuation of these trends. It becomes less about health and more about upholding an identity or a business.

So as I recently looked into what experts are saying about these diets, I came upon two important videos I think everyone should check out. Both have been embedded below. Remember, it’s not that I care what you choose in your own life, or that I feel there is a right or wrong, it’s that I believe we should be informed and I wish to use this platform to promote as best a message as I can.

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The Videos

Thanks to Plant-Based News for creating such a good channel and resource of information on YouTube.

In this video, several plant-based health experts talk through 9 nutrition studies that would be of interest to low carb keto diet proponents. To read the 9 studies, click here.

Next up, Dr. Kim Williams (past President of the American College of Cardiology) shares his insights about the ketogenic.

Related Articles

Diabetic Shares Why He Quit ‘The Ketogenic Diet’

Doctor Explains Why She Never Recommends The ‘Ketogenic Diet’

The Biggest Misconception About The ‘Ketogenic Diet’…You Don’t Actually Have To Follow It

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