By Tyler Graham, coauthor of The Happiness Diet
1: Deciphering food label ingredients leads to unappetizing results. Take the innocuous-sounding castoreum, which is used to enhance the flavor of puddings, candies, and some frozen dairy desserts. You might be surprised to know that it’s derived from beavers–beaver anal glands, specifically.
2: Many foods get their red coloring–“carmine”–from ground-up insect shells that can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.
3: The greater the number of cheap cuts of meat ground into a single patty, the greater the risk of contamination with E. coli. A standard fast-food burger contains the trimmings of dozens of cows raised around the globe.
4: According to research from UCLA, it takes only two months to lower levels of brain chemicals responsible for learning and memory (like BDNF) on a steady diet of processed foods.
5: Processed food is only as good as its packaging: In the summer of last year, Kellogg’s recalled 28 million boxes of cereal because a compound in the box lining (the company wouldn’t say what) was giving off a foul smell and tainting the taste of the boxed food.