The following is an extract from “The Consumption Cleanse” chapter on Chocolate.
Have you seen the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory based on the 1971 book written by Roald Dahl? It is an almost universally viewed fiction; a fantasy of such sugary proportions that simply watching it raises your risk of Type II diabetes. That said, Charlie and his factory have more in common with a health farm run by Mother Theresa (may she rest in peace) than the deceptive and destructive real world of modern day confectionery.
Allow me to provide a brief of what a modern day adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might look like. You are Charlie and from the day of your birth you have unfortunately had a sweet tooth as it is in you genetic code, conveniently programmed by the multinational behemoth Confectionery World. You are comforted by the fact that you survived childhood unlike your siblings who perished from drinking the polluted water which was all that remained after Confectionery World drained your local aquifers. On the bright side you have just sated your chocolate addiction and discovered on the wasteful non-biodegradable chocolate wrapper that you have won the coveted Golden Ticket to enter Confectionery World inscribed on which are the words, “Congratulations, you have won a free ticket to Confectionery World and a life of addiction, obesity and death”.
At the gates of Confectionery world you are met by the modern day Oompa Loompas who look remarkably like African child slaves. They now work here under abysmal conditions making Confectionery World’s completely nutrition-free mislabeled “Health” products and also appear malnourished because of the Confectionery World’s deceptively marketed baby formula they have been raised on instead of common sense mother’s milk. Now, instead of drinking water from their own natural water supply, they spend their non-existent wages on bottled water, courtesy of Confectionery World, filled from their very own previously owned water supply. Water is not a right after all, it is a commodity, according to Willy Wonker who controls Confectionery World and all its addicts and who co-incidentally looks very much like the current Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe. And so on, and so on……
Mindless rant now done with, I can tell you about what this chapter is all about. Sugar, as discussed copiously in the Sugar chapter, is something you have already stopped consuming in its direct form. Sugar and artificial sweetener based confectionery must be the most common and profligate outlet through which this evil is peddled so it too must go as part of this cleanse. Sugar is sugar regardless of whether it is direct or bundled in with a whole bunch of other nasty stuff and called “sweets”. It follows that all of the negative health effects detailed in the Sugar chapter are applicable and so I won’t regurgitate them here.
This chapter’s focus is on what you are supporting when you buy confectionery. The aim is to provide a compelling case to persuade you to boycott the gigantic multinational confectionery companies. It is not only because the junk they produce is bad for you, completely unnecessary in the human diet and devastating for the planet, but because of the ruthless and deceitful way in which they conduct business.
Whether it be child slave labor, misleading labeling, unethical promotion, environmental catastrophe, pollution or price fixing – your purchasing of confectionery is enabling it. The bottom line? Confectionery must go.
From Wikipedia: “Confectionery is the art of making confections, which are food items that are rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Exact definitions are difficult. In general, though, confectionery is divided into two broad and somewhat overlapping categories, bakers’ confections and sugar confections.
Bakers’ confectionery, also called flour confections, includes principally sweet pastries, cakes, donuts and similar baked goods. These are covered in a separate chapter, Bakery and Breakfast Cereals.
Sugar confectionery includes sweets, candied nuts, chocolates, chewing gum, sweetmeats, pastillage, and other confections that are made primarily of sugar. (…)The words candy (US and Canada), sweets (UK and Ireland), and lollies (Australia and New Zealand) are common words for the most common varieties of sugar confectionery”.
This week, we are concerned with Sugar Confection only. Not mentioned in the Wikipedia definition but included this week is ice cream. Typically anything with loads of additional sugar or artificial sweeteners including High Fructose Corn Syrup and “Molitol”, the industry’s latest attempt at deception about this subcategory of Junk Food, is now on the chopping block. HFCS is well studied and known to be exceptionally bad for you. Molitol is relatively new, but there are as many studies claiming ill effects as there are those claiming it is benign. So don’t risk it and besides, boycotting Big Confectionery is reason enough to get off this poor excuse for food.
These foods can be identified by reading the labels of the product which will list these ingredients. Generally, the list of ingredients is ordered according the quantity of each ingredient in the product in descending order so if you see these ingredients listed early in the list, you know there is plenty of it crammed in there.
Alternatively, you can familiarize yourself with the large multinational companies that produce this junk food and boycott them. From my research and for those that are referenced below, I’ll name and shame some of the big offenders. It seems that Nestlé takes the cake (pun intended) in terms of global miscreants, but they are joined by others namely Mars, Kraft Food’s Cadbury and Hershey’s. The raison d’être of these bad boys is to get you on the drip and keep you there until addiction, obesity and death do you part.
I think we all instinctively know that sugary confectionery is not good for our systems. So why the devil are we drawn to it? Well folks, we are drawn to it BECAUSE of the devil. I am not a religious fellow, but if I was I’d say there was certainly something satanic, something hellish about these confectionery companies. Willy Wonka in a cameo appearance as the Grim Reaper peddles well-disguised poisons to the addicts under his control through a number of nasty tactics.
Relentless and unconscionable promotion by “Big Confection” such as the highly unethical and deadly Nestlé campaign to promote their baby formula in 3rd World countries (discussed below) is a devastating example of how they strive to expand sales. While this is not a confectionery product, it is a confectionery company and exposes clearly the extent to which they will go to acquire more addicts and more profit.
Intentional, misleading labeling is another favorite. Big Confection is continuously finding new ways to relabel, re-brand & misinform the population to conceal the truth about these products to peddle more. Here are some of those methods:
- “Low fat”, “reduced fat” & “fat free”. No doubt you would have seen food labels on confectionery splashing this claim about. Foods that have their fat removed generally taste like plasterboard; not high on tastebud excitement. For this reason, these foods need to be loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners and all manner of ungodly chemicals to get people to eat them.
- Sugar by many names. Confectionery manufacturers will often put different types of sugar in their junk food. A product may contain “sugar”, “high fructose corn syrup” and “evaporated cane juice” – all sugar. In this way the volume of each individual type of sugar will be less and subsequently appear further down on the ingredients list where it may not be noticed, ingredient lists not being known for a gripping read.
- More than one serving. The real sugar quantity is frequently disguised in confectionery by saying on the packaging that the product contains more than one serving. In my days in the confectionery eating world, now passed, I don’t recall ever eating just half of a chocolate bar, even after acknowledging the serving size. I will eat how much I want, and this is usually all of it. Big Confectionery use this to report less sugar “per serving”.
Above all, the main reason that confectionery is consumed and why it continues to grow in distribution and volume is its addictive qualities. From the Sugar chapter we know how addictive this ingredient is. The studies prove that junk food high in fat and sugar such as confectionery, is so much more than excess calories. It has been proven to create addiction on both a biochemical and neurological level. What is even more sinister here is that Big Confection has been well aware of this all along and in fact uses this quality as a central strategy for growth. Their junk food is specifically designed to bypass appetite control and the neurological security valves of the addict. In the book “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us”,1 Michael Moss explains that these companies invest enormous amounts of money trying to find the right combinations of the cheapest and most addictive ingredients to put in their junk foods.
The scariest part is yet to come. The addiction to sugary confection is passed on genetically from mother to child. Latest research shows that food choices during pregnancy have an impact on the offspring’s food choices. I.e. if the mother eats high sugar junk food then this also becomes the baby’s preference. And what’s even more worrisome is that this is not a behavioral inheritance – it is genetic. The DNA and the genes that encode opioid and dopamine receptors in the child’s brain are altered such that addiction is more likely.
Eleni Roumeliotou, a trained geneticist with a Master degree in Human Molecular Genetics surmises brilliantly, “In a twisted way, the new generation is genetically pre-programmed to be addicted to junk food, even before they are born. This perfect self-feeding loop guarantees long-term profits for the food corporations and chronic debilitating disease for humans, for generations to come. By designing and selling addictive, low quality and disease-promoting products, Big Food has achieved the unthinkable: to create a dedicated army of health-compromised, addicted fans, whose cognitive, biochemical and even genetic potential to break free of their addiction is hijacked before birth.”2
Consuming sugar based confectionery is bad for you primarily because of the sugar and artificial sweeteners that they are loaded up with. Addiction, obesity, diabetes and a raft of other ailments are coming your way in the not too distant future should you not kick this habit and eliminate it from you diet. The odds are against you though, as the addiction has probably made its way into your genetic code, as discussed above, and the Big Confectionery companies will stop at nothing to keep you hooked. You must persist and get off the ride, withdraw your support for these good for nothing profit machines. Do it for you, the next generation and the planet.
What harm do these ruthless companies do to your planet? I’m glad you asked. Here is a list of some of the more callous global offenses I have come across.
- Unethical promotion. Nestlé aggressively promoted its baby formula in a number of third world countries, specifically targeting the poor, pushing their product as something as good as mother’s milk and encouraging parents to get off the natural method in order to fatten their bottom line, but doing very little to fatten the consumer. Some of these victims had no access to clean water, were not literate in English and hence did not boil their polluted water as per the instructions written in English. Nestlé appears to have knowingly ignored these conditions and breastfeeding was cast aside. UNICEF estimates3 that a formula-fed child living in disease-ridden and unhygienic conditions is between 6 and 25 times more likely to die of diarrhoea and four times more likely to die of pneumonia than a breastfed child.The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) says that Nestlé distributed free baby formula to hospitals and maternity wards; after leaving the hospital, the formula was no longer free, but because the lactation process of the mother had been interrupted the baby was stuck on the formula and the family had to continue to buy the formula. Ruthless! It is not on the public record exactly how many infants perished from malnutrition and disease because they were not fed mother’s milk, but you can be sure there were plenty.Unconscionably, Nestlé’s response was that something should be done about the water quality in these places and used that for a platform to sell it bottled water!!
- Misleading labelling. GMOs and traces of the industrial poison melamine is used in Nestlé products.4 Even if you believe the scientists on the Nestlé payroll when they say GMOs are perfectly good for you, melamine is a poison! Melamine is the poison that sickened 50,000 Chinese infants in 2008.5 Purina, a subsidiary of Nestlé is currently in the courts for using propylene glycol, a component of antifreeze and known animal toxin in its dog food. Over 3,000 dogs fell ill to which Purina responded that propylene glycol is “an FDA-approved food additive that is also in human foods like salad dressing and cake mix.”6 Ok that’s fine then.
- Price fixing. The Canadian Competition Bureau raided the offices of Nestlé Canada, Hershey Canada Inc. and Mars Canada Inc seeking evidence for their price fixing investigation. Under a class action lawsuit, without admitting liability, these companies settled for $9 million payout. If corporations could have a conscience, theirs would be a guilty one. In addition the CEO of Nestlé Canada is facing criminal charges for price fixing.
- Environmental damage. Bottled water and palm oil are two of the consumables behind massive environmental catastrophes perpetrated by, you guessed it, Nestlé. Nestlé is the world’s biggest producer of bottled water, a fact underpinned by their Chairman’s belief that water should not be a universal right. Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe says: “There are two different opinions on the matter [of water]. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.” Is it really Peter? Then why has your company been pillaging water from California’s San Bernardino National Forest without a permit since 1988 and today during one of California’s worst droughts in history?7 An independent analysis puts the usage at 1 billion gallons per year while the rest of the state faces severe restrictions.8 Then there’s the tiny Pakistani village of Bhati Dilwan where Nestlé’s deep well deprives locals of potable water. Children are being sickened by the filthy water that remains available to them. “The water is not only very dirty, but the water level sank from 100 to 300 to 400 feet,” says a local elder.9 They can’t pipe fresh water in, because that would detract from Nestlé’s source of profit from their Pure Life brand. And as if this type of environmental and community wreckage was not enough you’ve also got their bottling of tap water and labelling it as something else for which they have current lawsuits filed against them. Nestlé’s Kitkat brand has been involved in the ongoing palm oil disaster whereby huge tracts of rainforest and their inhabitants, most notably the endangered orang-utans are destroyed to produce palm oil. It should be noted that Nestlé has ceased sourcing this ingredient in this way, but only after massive people power protest succeeded.
- Child labor, abuse and trafficking. “The Dark Side of Chocolate” 2010 documentary exposed child slave labour practices in the cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast. The child slaves were often shipped from nearby countries and were as young as 12 years old. The International Labor Rights Fund sued Nestlé on behalf of three young Malian children, claiming they were trafficked to Ivory Coast, forced to work as slaves and beaten regularly. In 2010, the US District Court for the Central District of California determined corporations cannot be held liable for violations of international law and dismissed the suit. This has since been appealed.
- Health threats. Aside from the Chinese Milk Scandal mentioned above, Big Confection has been behind numerous other health scares and food code breaches. In July 2009, theFood and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a warning to consumers to not eat Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough because of E. coli contamination. 50 people in 30 states in the US fell ill, half of whom required hospitalization and one of whom died as a result.
- Animal Testing. “Nestlé, which makes Nestea, conducts—and pays others to conduct—painful and deadly tea tests on animals. The company causes animals to suffer simply to investigate the possible health benefits linked to tea products and ingredients, even though not one of these experiments is legally required for beverage manufacturers and regulators have stated that animal tests are not sufficient to prove health claims about food and beverage products. In these cruel tests, mice and rats were tormented and then killed by decapitation and other methods”. See the NesteaCueltea.com website for further details of the horrors endured by the animals used in Nestea’s tea experiments
That’s a list long enough for several death sentences if the “perp” was a civilian. You can’t execute a corporation, but you can starve it to death, starve it of its food, its revenue.
The starting point in giving up sugar based confectionery folks is to know and be able to identify exactly what it is you are giving up. Hopefully some of the tips above will give you a better chance of a positive identification of these villains and then the same stunts employed in the Sugar chapter, if you have applied them already, will greatly help you. Again, it is a matter of going cold turkey, knowing when you are susceptible to purchasing and eating this junk and making sure you have good alternatives on hand that you can tuck in to. Eating better is the best weapon against the corporate stranglehold which has us eating toxic non-food all the way to the hospital ward.
I love chocolate. This cleanse is not about forbidding for yourself all the nice things in life, it is about avoiding consumption that has unsustainable impacts on yourself and the world. So I have allowed myself these alternatives to the crap peddled by Big Confectionery which I think still fits within the bounds of what this cleanse is all about.
- Dark Chocolate. Dark Chocolate, ideally 80% cocoa or more and with natural sugar alternatives for sweetener produced by other than Big Confectionery and ideally approved by international fair trade organizations such as “Fair Trade”.
- Fruit and Nuts. Nuts seeds and berries of all varieties and snacks made from these. Fruit as well is a good alternative. Where possible buy local grown or better yet grow your own.
Once you have removed sugar based confectionery from your diet, not only will the positive impacts outlined in the Sugar chapter be more pronounced, but you will have pulled support for the companies that really couldn’t give a damn for the planet and its inhabitants.
Until next week.
- Michael Moss, “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” (Random House Publishing Group, 2013)
- Eleni Roumeliotou, “Addiction To Junk Food: More Than Meets The Eye”, http://www.wakingtimes.com/2013/04/08/addiction-to-junk-food-more-than-meets-the-eye/, accessed 31/1/2016.
- Anthony Lake, “Nutrition”, http://www.unicef.org, accessed 31/1/2016
- org, “Abbot, Mead Johnson, and Nestlé: Our babies deserve better than GMOs!”, http://action.greenamerica.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10597, accessed 31/1/2016.
- Jordan Light, “Melamine traces found in samples of U.S. infant formula”, http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/news-blog/melamine-traces-found-in-samples-of-2008-11-26/, accessed 31/1/2016.
- Daniella Silva, “Lawsuit Claims Purina’s Beneful Is Poisoning, Killing Dogs”, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/lawsuit-claims-purinas-beneful-poisoning-killing-dogs-n312176, accessed 31/1/2016
- Charley Cameron, “How Nestle is pillaging California’s water in the 4th year of the state’s worst drought, http://inhabitat.com/how-nestle-is-pillaging-californias-water-in-the-4th-year-of-the-states-worst-drought/, accessed 31/1/2016.
- Ian James, “Little oversight as Nestle taps Morongo reservation water”, http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2014/07/12/nestle-arrowhead-tapping-water/12589267/, accessed 31/1/2016.
- Worldcrunch, “Poisoning The Well? Nestle Accused Of Exploiting Water Supplies For Bottled Brands”, http://www.worldcrunch.com/poisoning-well-nestl-accused-exploiting-water-supplies-bottled-brands/business-finance/poisoning-the-well-nestl-accused-of-exploiting-water-supplies-for-bottled-brands/c2s4503/#.UXEDk7VTCtY, accessed 31/1/2016.
- Miki Mistrati and U. Roberto Romano, “The Dark Side of Chocolate”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Vfbv6hNeng, accessed 31/1/2016.