For several weeks I have been wanting to explore the strange and illusive world of the fine print put on canned and packaged foods. This week I was bound and determined that I was going to get to the bottom of it.

My panel of Mannie Barling and his wife Ashley Brooks were the ideal candidates for the mission. They have spent more than a decade exploring the fact and fiction behind nutrition.

My minimal research into the world of food labels was making me uncomfortable, it seemed that almost everything I picked from the kitchen cabinet contained unpronounceable stuff in the ingredient list!

Even the few terms that I could decipher made no sense. Yeast in my simplistic world has two uses, making bread, and making beer. why do I keep finding Yeast Extract as an ingredient in products that have nothing to do with a pint of ale and a slice of bread?

Also confusing is the use of salt. I like salt, a pinch of it makes many foods taste wonderful. A tomato fresh from the garden, a little salt and pepper, it is a feast fit for the kings. But why do canned and packaged goods have so much of it?

My real concern though is in that second label, sometimes called RDA, sometimes RDV, or DV. What do they mean? RDA stands for Recommended Daily Allowance, RDV Recommended Daily Value, and DV Daily Value.

In the ideal world this represents by percentage the amount of various substances that someone living on a 2000 calorie diet per day should have. But who is this Mr. Joe Average? How old is he? Does he sit behind a desk, or chop down trees for a living? And maybe the biggest question of all, who determines and polices the world of RDA’s?

These were the questions that I posed at Mannie Barling and Ashley Brooks. I found the answers shocking, no, worse than that, horrifying!

In simple terms it is a classic example of the fox guarding the hen house. Unregulated regulation!

Much like the FCC is the mouthpiece of the communications industry, this aspect of the food industry is privately funded by organizations with a vested interest. It stretches my imagination that the Mars and M&M company have my best health in mind!

Other funders are bio-tech companies, and just about every huge food production conglomeration you can name.

On a lighter note, Mannie and Ashley stepped up to the plate to take on the Simon challenge, a meal for four that does not break the bank, is tasty and nutritious, ready in under 2 hours. Who doesn’t love a great Bacon Cheese Burger on Sourdough Bread with a heaping of spicy fries? I was hungry as they were talking!

They kindly sent me a copy of the recipe, it is yours to enjoy.

This is a program that everyone needs to listen to. The recording can be found here.

Simon Barrett

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