Cleaning up the kitchen: Day 4

So Day 4 of the Don’t Waste the Crumbs cleaning out the kitchen challenge is: Ditch hydrogenated oils.

Now, this is where I’m going to advise everyone to take what Tiffany has to say with a grain of salt. Let me first say, I am doing this challenge and I agree that trans fats are bad for you. Trans fats have been shown to be bad for your health. The FDA and other health organizations recommend limiting trans fats as much as possible. If we can make “as much as possible” = none, I think that would be the best possible thing for our bodies.

HOWEVER. This is what Tiffany says about trans-fats:

Easy Version:  it’s a perfectly good liquid oil that a chemist has turned into a solid oil using their lab equipment.

More Scientific Version: She links to this write up

In which, she explains the process used to turn naturally forming oils into a solid state (that’s the trans part) and I’m with her there. But she then goes on to say that it’s essentially drinking (she’s talking about hydrogenated oils in creamer) the metal that the process is made with and that because the molecule changes so that it’s similar in structure to plastic, that it is THE SAME AS PLASTIC. Um, no.

No. No. No. No. No.

Here’s some more from the challenge post:

Everyone (including those government folks) agree that trans fats are bad.  They do not come from the earth.  They are created by fallible man, in a lab.  Our bodies are unsure what this stuff is nor what to do with it, so it’s pushed aside and stored as fat.

This is the stuff that clogs our arteries and tissues.  This is the stuff that makes it harder for our bodies to work.  We must get it out of our kitchen…

Some of you are probably shaking your head (and fists) at me with these processed and boxed items, but as I mentioned – I am the average person walking on the street.

We cannot take anything for granted.  We must read every single label and attack with discernment.  Even if the stuff inside tastes good, the trans fat inside causes it to be more like plastic than food.  And frankly, that’s just gross.

For those who think one atom in a molecule makes a chemical the same thing, I have some news. It doesn’t. I’m not a man-on-the-street. I’m not one of those government folks. I am a trained chemist and biologist and I work as a journalist. It’s my training to find the truth and it’s my job to bring people the truth. So please believe me when I tell you that one atom in a molecule makes a huge difference. Hell, the positioning of atoms in a molecule makes a huge difference.

No, don’t believe me. Let me show you: Perhaps you’ve heard of the molecules H2O and H2O2, commonly known as water and hydrogen peroxide, respectively. Go ahead and drink some hydrogen peroxide and tell me that that one little extra hydrogen didn’t make it toxic. Are you with me now?

Also, please please please talk to snopes before regurgitating anything from the Internet. I know, I know, the Internet never lies. But seriously, it’s all lies. Feel free to hop over and see what snopes has to say about the margerine=plastic. They also address the claim that margerine was developed to fatten turkeys. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t. It was invented during revolutionary era France to replace lard so that the common people could afford it.) Trans fats are in fact found in nature. They are naturally produced in various grazing animals and is found naturally in milk, milk products and meats (which is why it was so easy to develop it from beef fat).

Whether or not your food has been processed in some way, should not be the only guiding principal for eliminating things from our diets. This golly gee, man-on-the-street, I-don’t-know-much-but-I’ll-tell-you-this attitude HAS. TO. STOP.

The really frustrating thing here is that Tiffany and I agree that trans fats are bad for you. The FDA thinks so (“Keep trans fat consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain trans fats formed during food processing”), the AHA agrees a bit more specifically (the AHA recommends that your daily intake of trans fats be limited to 1 percent of total calories, which is equivalent to roughly 2 to 2.5 grams of trans fat per day), and the USDA groups trans and saturated fats together as foods to eat cautiously (“Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils”). Even the Harvard School of Public Health, which has lobbied extensively for labeling of trans fats in foods and is a great resource for why trans fats hurt our health and how to recognize them, doesn’t say that avoiding trans fats necessarily makes you healthy

They recommend avoiding trans fats, but also point out that a food isn’t necessarily healthy just because it doesn’t contain trans fats.

OK, deep breath.

So, with that out of our way, let’s get on to the challenge at hand. I haven’t gotten to the freezer or pantry challenges yet, so I’m going to just do the fridge. I’ll include a list of foods I find with trans fats when I get to those challenges.

Here’s what I found in my registrants with hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list:


Not too bad, from my perspective. Even our margarine was made with vegetable oils (which are still thought to be healthier for those predisposed to a heart condition than animal fats).

That said, T and the little one eat everything wrapped in these tortillas. I buy them by the case on Amazon. So we’ll need to do some research into better options for tortillas. They don’t like corn tortillas, and I’m not ready to take the leap into making our own. We’ll likely keep the dressing because it’s not been opened yet and was bought at least 3 months ago. We use so little dressing in our house that I see no problem with simply reading more carefully the next time we buy dressing. You know, like 2 years from now.

I did find a container of ranch dressing that we bought for company that contained monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is something we cut out a while ago. It’s a sneaky little additive though and it keeps making its way back into our kitchen. T has had fewer migraines since we got rid of it though, so I try to keep a close eye on things. We’ll likely keep the ranch dressing since, again, it hasn’t been opened and it’s really only company that wants it. If we ever use it up, we’ll buy a better option.

This Series

Oct. 4 – Clean out the fridge
Oct. 5-6 – Eat the old stuff
Oct. 7 – Create a grocery budget
Oct. 9 – Ditch hydrogenated oils
Oct. 10-12 – Clean out the Freezer
Oct. 13 – Eat a Simple Meal
Oct. 14 – Make money
Oct. 20 – Bake Bread Plan meals for one week
Oct. 30 – Clean out the pantry and cupboards; Create a signature company dish; Use food twice
Oct. 31 – Budget check-in
Nov. 1 – All the rest


11 thoughts on “Cleaning up the kitchen: Day 4

  1. dontwastethecrumbs October 10, 2014 / 10:31 pm

    Hi Alicia! I’m glad that we can agree that trans fats are bad, and that avoiding them is good. And I also agree that just because food doesn’t have trans fats, doesn’t make it healthy. There are many, many additives in processed foods that should make us think twice about what we’re eating. I hope our differences in chemistry don’t stop you from completing the 22 day challenge. 🙂

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