Beware of “Natural Foods” (and your brain)

This past week I picked up my order of beef from my beef supplier. He’s kinda like my drug dealer – we meet in a random parking lot off the highway and make the transaction quickly and discreetly.

I grabbed about 35 pounds of the good stuff – organic, grass-fed, healthy meat. The difference in taste and appearance is quite substantial. Here’s a pic of some of the ground beef  – I always buy lots and split it up with friends:

The first thing I wanted to sink my teeth into were burgers on my new charcoal BBQ. 

I finished my last order of ground beef before I got the BBQ so I was dying to try them.

I also bought some hickory smoking pellets that had me worried someone would call the fire department after seeing the smoke emanating from my 9th floor balcony:

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I wanted to go all out, so on the burgers I had:

  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Sauteed onions and mushrooms
  • Homemade ketchup
  • Aged raw milk cheddar
  • BACON!

I rarely eat bacon because it contains preservatives that aren’t any good for health or body composition, but I made an exception this time.

Plus, I found a bacon that claimed it was completely “natural” (and thus, must be healthy) that was on sale, so I grabbed it.

I’d actually read somewhere before that the natural preservative they use, called “cultured celery extract” was no better than the normal nitrates/nitrites used, but the thought of a bacon cheeseburger made on my charcoal grill selectively deleted this information from my brain.

After the flavour storm subsided, I decided to look up “cultured celery extract” and found that indeed it was as bad if not worse than normal nitrates/nitrites. In fact, it is really no different, except that there are probably more nitrates/nitrites from cultured celery extract than in normal bacon.

Oh well, guess I won’t be buying it again, but this time at least, it was well, WELL worth it:

Click to enlarge and salivate.

There are 2 lessons here:

  1. Never trust the marketing on food packages. Especially those “seals of trust” from various charitable organizations.
  2. Your brain can trick you. Very, very easily. Be aware!

Bon appetit my friends.

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Bob FelgerEricGeorge ChenSteve VB Recent comment authors
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Bob Felger
Bob Felger

Nitrates and nitrites are not bad for you, and in fact, are required for many of your body’s processes. Many vegetables are full of these compounds, e.g. celery. Do you really think celery is carcinogenic? Or beets, which are also jam-packed with nitrates?
This article explains the history of possible misunderstanding about these chemicals.
http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/seasoningflavoring/a/nitrates.htm

George Chen
George Chen

Hi Eric,

First off, great website thank you for all the awesome free information, I found your site 3 weeks ago when I hurt my shoulder and I’ve started using your shoulder rehabilitation program.

I’ve staved off bacon for the better part of the past year, but more recently I’ve been having major cravings. How bad, in your opinion, is bacon for fitness goals?

Eric

1 slice… not so bad… especially away from workouts (fat + protein helps with satiety).

But if you buy a pack, and you end up eating the whole thing before it goes bad, that’s 500 grams of bacon in a week or so, which isn’t good. That’s over 300+ calories per day from bacon you’re eating, if you eat the whole pack in a week… Consider that bacon doesn’t necesarily add to fullness or isn’t the whole protein portion – you generally have other things with it ie. eggs, or on a burger etc… it’s a lot of extra.

And the nitrates on the other hand aren’t great for health, so I’d just rather avoid them completely…

Solution – buy some expensive real bacon from a local farmer, use a couple pieces here and there then freeze the rest. That’s the ticket and what I’ll be doing.

BTW – nice avatar!!! 🙂

George Chen
George Chen

This is very sound advice considering I won’t be fiending for bacon all too often anyway, very much appreciated.
And thanks regarding the avatar, I’ve been working hard on them for a long time and thought adding a photo demonstrating my enthusiasm for fitness might help with getting a response lol.

Steve VB
Steve VB

Been cautious about the heart foundation tick appearing on more and more, the only way is to grow it your self , kill it your self, and eat it. We can’t all be farmers or hippies. So we have to take what we read and do the best we can. I have been following your nutri-itsu advise now for over a year and man do i feel better, carb are a low very low priority and veggies are high. Which was round the other way, like it is for so many.
Love your work…