Is there value in a long shelf life?

woman sitting near table under shelves with boxes

What would you consider the top features of our modern-day, processed food that lead to ill health?

According to Sally Fallon, founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, the three major factors are the vegetable oils (aka: industrial seed oils), the refined sugars and sweeteners, and all the additional toxic food additives.[1]

I have discussed the harmful effects that the vegetable oils and the refined sugars and sweeteners have on our bodies, and the ill will of the companies that produce them.  They are not looking to nourish us; they are seeking to fill their pockets.

But what about all the other toxic additives?

In addition to the vegetable oils and the added sugars and sweeteners, there are:

Synthetic Vitamins.  During the refining process, the food manufacturer strips the food of many of its essential vitamins and minerals.  The product may be packageable and have a shelf life, but it is void of nutrients.  Hence, the company adds synthetic vitamins back in.

Seeing added vitamins on a food label may seem positive. But being synthetic they are difficult for the body to absorb and utilize.  It is best to get the natural form of the vitamin from real, whole foods, especially since doing so ensures that they are coupled with all the necessary co-factors.

Stabilizers, thickeners, emulsifiers (like gums or carrageenan), flavor enhancers (which can include MSG and soy lecithin), preservatives and colorings. 

Since ancient times, we have used mineral salt and spices to preserve foods and make them more palatable.  These preservation techniques most often enhanced the bioavailability of the nutrients.

With modern food processing we have replaced these preservation and enhancement practices with chemicals.  They may stabilize the product and preserve its shelf life, but they make the foods much more difficult for our bodies to break down, absorb, and utilize.

The longer the shelf life; the shorter your health life!

My point here is to make you more aware of the fact that there is a myriad of chemicals in our food, so that you can make wise decisions that will impact your health, your family’s health and the health and well-being of future generations.

Since the list of food additives is endless, I will elaborate on just two of these chemicals, one well known, one not so well known, as examples of what we are eating.

Example 1, MSG (or monosodium glutamate) is a known neurotoxin.  According to The Liberty Beacon, “MSG and aspartame (discussed previously) are the two leading causes of central nervous system damage in the United States.”[2]

Furthermore, MSG is known to cause obesity in mice.  And aspartate can produce the exact same brain lesions as glutamate, resulting in gross obesity.[3]

Is it not disturbing to consider that the sole purpose of these excitotoxins, as they are known, is to enhance the taste of food and the sweetness of diet products?  To boost sales of our foods and drinks?[4]

The MSG I am discussing here is not to be confused with the amino acid that our bodies produce on their own.  The MSG on store shelves is processed, GMO and comes from fermented sugar beets.

MSG has at least 20 different names and is often camouflaged under “natural flavors.”

Additionally, there are many products/additives that are “cousins” of MSG.  To avoid MSG, aspartame and their cousins, you would need to avoid:

Glutamic acid, glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, calcium glutamate, autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, gelatin, anything “hydrolyzed,” sodium caseinate, soy protein, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, textured protein, whey protein, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, yeast extract, yeast food, and yeast nutrient.[5]  😊

ice cream on stainless steel tray

Example 2, Propylene Glycol (aka anti-freeze) is an emulsifier.  Anti-freeze protects engines against boil-over, freeze, and heat transfer.  And it keeps ice cream soft enough to serve.

Yes, propylene glycol is found in commercial ice cream.  Now you may be saying, “I have never seen propylene glycol named in the ingredient list of the ice cream I buy.”  That does not mean it is not there.

There is practice known as “Industry Standard.” This means that if everyone does it, the manufacturers do not have to label it!   For specifics, you can refer to USDA reg 21 CFR 101.100 which addresses labeling exemptions dealing with incidental food additives.[6]

Other foods containing propylene glycol include:  dried soups and seasoning blends, salad dressings, baking, soft drinks, flavored teas, powdered drink mixes, alcoholic beverages, extracts, food coloring, fast foods, bread-based products, highly processed snack foods, flavored popcorn, cake frosting, and pre-made, mass-distributed baked desserts.[7]

Labeling laws and tactics.  That is another issue to delve into another day.  Suffice it to say for the moment that even though you may read the ingredient list on a package, you still cannot be certain all that you are getting.

*  *  *  *  *

So, did I answer the question, “Is there value in a long shelf life?”

Post a comment in the comment section and let me know your reflections. 

Let me leave you with this one last thought:

Every dollar you spend speaks of how you want the world to be.  Together, through our purchases, we can impact how our food is produced and marketed. 

Stay tuned for more practical steps on how to make changes – one step at a time.

Peace and grace,


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Excitotoxins:  A group of excitatory amino acids that can cause sensitive neurons to die.  Some of these compounds are found in nature and some are created artificially.  “Excitotoxins are supposed to enhance flavor and excite your taste buds, but this ‘class’ of chemicals overstimulate neuron receptors, which are what allow brain cells to communicate with each other. This causes a firing of impulses at such a rapid rate that they become completely exhausted, and several hours later, these depleted neurons die.”[8]





[3] Blaylock, Russell L., M.S., Excitotoxins, The Taste that Kills, Health Press NA Inc., 1997, P. xiii

[4] Blaylock, Russell L., M.S., Excitotoxins, The Taste that Kills, Health Press NA Inc., 1997, P. 80







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3 thoughts on “Is there value in a long shelf life?”

  1. Hi Karen,
    Thanks for the education in your blog this week. I enjoy reading about those “hidden” ingredients with alternate names and it prompts me to examine the manufacturers label a bit closer. Thanks!

  2. Pingback: What’s really in that $3 box of cereal you just bought? – Karen DeHaven Wellness

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Enjoy these favorite dishes. 
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Plus monthly REAL food tips & inspiration right to your inbox!
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