Foods To Avoid

by TC T-Nation


Given the dearth of rare earths, heavy metals, and various chemicals available to industry, I don’t know why they don’t just start mining human livers.


The blackened, pock marked, cirrhotic, old-football-of-a-liver found in the corpse of most average dead Americans would no doubt yield an impressive array of compounds, some of which may have contributed to the demise of said Americans.


Hell, if someone wants to start a company to extract that chemical bounty, I’m in.


Still, the less entrepreneurial side of me wishes that it weren’t so; that Americans would actually show a little concern for what they eat, that they’d take a little time to learn what foods they might legitimately avoid instead of shaking in their boots over the faddish boogie-man food of the month.


(Yeah, I’m talking to you, you gluten avoiding, GMO fearing, ax-wielding modern-day Carrie Nations.)


It’s with that intent that I present the following list of foods that you might just choose to avoid when given a choice. Your liver will reward you by remaining perky and spry and retaining its schoolgirl laugh.



1. Shrimp


Before you get all apoplectic over the notion of having to give up your gumbo and kung pao, it’s only imported shrimp that you should probably avoid.


The trouble with imported shrimp is that it’s one of the dirtiest foods in existence and almost universally contains residues from the chemicals used to clean pens (most are farm raised), antibiotics, and a whole host of insect and animal parts, not to mention E. coli. Add to that the fact that less than 2% of all imported seafood is inspected before it’s sold.


Unfortunately, buying domestic shrimp isn’t all that easy, as approximately 90% of the shrimp sold in the U.S. is imported. Most of the domestic product comes from the Gulf of Mexico or Oregon, both of which are under the eye of the stringent guidelines of the Marine Stewardship Council.


What I’ve taken to doing is point-blank asking the waiter or manager of the restaurant where they get their shrimp. If it’s imported or they don’t know, choose something from column B.



2. Potatoes


Again, let me quickly clarify that it’s non-organic potatoes that are the culprit here, lest you go all Sling Blade on me for dissing your French-fried potaters.


Yeah, I know, you’re sick of hearing of all the alleged chemicals in our food sources, but see if the following experiment doesn’t unsettle you a bit: the next time you buy some non-organic potatoes, stick one of them under the sink for a couple of weeks.


It’ll be covered with sprouts, right? Uhh, not exactly. A non-organic potato has been treated so it won’t sprout. The world could suddenly go Walking Dead on you and you have to raise your own crops, but you can’t even grow potatoes because they’re not viable!


If only that was the sole problem. Non-organic potatoes are treated with fungicides during the growing season and then sprayed with various herbicides to kill off the vines before they’re harvested. Then, as mentioned, they’re treated again so they won’t sprout.


And, unlike some vegetables, it does little good to wash them off because the potato has absorbed the chemicals. Soon, chemical warfare will consist of soldiers throwing non-organic potatoes at each other.


Allegedly, potato farmers don’t even eat the stuff they sell. Instead, they maintain a separate little potato plot off to the side that they keep free of make-your-liver-glow-in-the-dark chemicals.


As an alternative, buy the organic potatoes; they’re only a little bit more expensive.



3. Tomatoes


Fresh organic tomatoes are great. Tomatoes stored in glass jars or bottles are swell, too. But canned tomatoes? No thanks, Mrs. Corleone.


As many of you no doubt know, the linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen-like chemical that’s been associated with a host of medical problems.


Granted, some of the alleged links like heart disease and diabetes haven’t been conclusively proven, but it’s pretty clear, at least, that bisphenol-A can cause hormone disruption, and the very mention of that is something that makes us weightlifter types wince.


While just about all canned goods contain bisphenol-A, it’s the acidity of the tomatoes that poses a particular problem – it causes extra chemical to leech into the food.


In fact, according to Fredrick Vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri, “You can get 50 mcg. of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young.”


If you don’t want to grow a vestigial clitoris, stick with the bottled versions.



4. Microwave Popcorn


Until a couple of years ago, “popcorn lung” was a legitimate concern to those who ate significant amounts of microwave popcorn.


It seems that microwave popcorn used to contain a chemical called diacetyl, which was released into the air upon opening up a freshly microwaved bag.


The snacker would inhale the chemical, and potentially, over time, cause scarring to the lungs, which, if irony has a sense of humor, would make the lungs sound like popcorn popping when they tried to suck in some air.


Luckily, most manufacturers, including Orville, have stopped using the chemical. Still, microwave popcorn remains a bag of worry. The bags themselves are coated with a chemical that keeps oil from soaking through, along with making the bags fire resistant.


The EPA has labeled the chemical, perflurooctinoic acid, a “likely carcinogen.” There are also other chemicals of indeterminate harmfulness that have been added as flavor enhancers or preservatives.


If you can’t watch a movie without eating popcorn, buy yourself one of these hand-crank babies for twenty bucks and use a dollop of coconut oil to pop your corn. Afterwards, coat it with grass-fed butter.



5. Atlantic Salmon


I’ve written about this before, but it deserves to be mentioned again. Eating wild Atlantic salmon would probably be okay…if you could find any. The truth is that it’s illegal to capture wild Atlantic salmon because their numbers are so low.


As such, it’s a safe bet that all the Atlantic salmon you see in grocery stores and fish markets is farm raised, and farm raised is bad news. Farm raised salmon are fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, they’re higher in contaminants like PCBs, dioxin, DDT, flame retardants, and assorted carcinogens.


Add to that the fact that these pen-raised salmon are often plagued by sea lice, thus necessitating the use of antibiotics and pesticides. When you eat these fish, you get dosed by the very same chemicals, you big sea louse, you.


These fish are so nasty that in 2004, the director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at Albany, New York said, “You could eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer.”


High praise indeed. Likewise, a few years ago the European version of the FDA told pregnant women not to eat any Atlantic salmon more than once every 4 months, unless, of course, they wanted to give birth to fish-eyed, gill breathing creatures who subsist on hydrolyzed chicken feathers and go to nursery school in a fish tank.


Obviously, we should all stick with wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Luckily, pretty much all canned salmon is from wild catch.



6. Gluten-Free Baked Goods


Oh, the delicious irony!


You buy into the hype and eschew your gluten foods for gluten free, only the joke’s on you. Much of the time, gluten-free baked goods like crackers, cookies, and breads are filled with more artificial ingredients, more refined flours, more sugar, and plain more chemicals than the gluten versions.


After all, something has to take the place of the gluten they took out.


I’m well aware that there are plenty of people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities and they don’t need me to tell them when it’s okay and not okay to get gluten. But the rest of you? I know you all presumably feel better and look better (from fat loss) when you adopt a gluten free diet, but remember TC’s Rule #266:


“Any time you start paying attention to any component of your diet, you will lose body fat and probably feel better (or at least more pious) simply by being more conscientious of what goes into your pie hole.”



7. Soy


I’m a pioneer in soy bashing. I wrote some of the first soy-bashing articles to appear anywhere way back in the previous century! You hear me? The previous century! Okay, so that was like 14 or 15 years ago. Still, I’m a crusader and a pioneer.


Even though I’ve been banging on that particular giant Japanese taiko drum for a long time, it needs to be restated again and again, plus there’s a new reason or two to hate soy in case the old ones weren’t good enough.


When I first started bashing soy, it was because of its estrogenic effects. I wrote of how it could literally kill sperm cells and also lead to a decrease in Testosterone, along with enhancing body fat accumulation.


Recently, however, it’s also come to light that nearly all soy additives are processed using the chemical hexane, which, surprise, is highly carcinogenic, along with being associated with birth defects and reproductive problems.


And, in another delicious case of irony, almost all the non-organic soy ingredients or products are GM. That doesn’t necessarily bother me, but it’s likely to cause histrionics in the average GM-avoiding house mom who drinks soy for its allegedly healthy attributes.




It’s long been my experience that big companies eventually end up exploiting people, resources, or the environment. It seems that in the case of agro, they’re guilty of all three sins at once. Buyer beware.




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