Musings On Health, Nutrition And Baking Powder

Ten years ago I was the poster child for poor nutritional habits. I pretty much lived on pizza, donuts, rocky road ice cream and Dr. Pepper. I had no concept of what constituted a balanced diet.

Then I became pregnant with my first child. For the first time I began to wonder if I should maybe be taking a closer look at what was going into my body. After all, I wanted to give this new life inside me its best chance at a healthy, strong beginning.

So I started reading about whole foods and additives and the effects of processing, and pretty soon I’d decided to make some changes in my eating habits. And it didn’t take long for me to discover that the better I ate, the better I felt. One change led naturally to another, and within a few years I felt stronger, more energetic, and just plain healthier than I had since I was a kid. Whole grain breads and cereals, fresh raw produce, organic whenever possible, staying away from artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, no more soft drinks — these things dramatically changed the quality of my life. Not that I’d ever had any serious health problems before, but the new sense of vibrant health was incredible.

One of the smaller changes I made was to stop using regular commercial baking powder. I used to use Clabber Girl, which like most commercial baking powders contains aluminum sulphate as an acidifier. Consuming aluminum has been strongly linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease, and man, I just can’t see taking chances with that.

For a while I was making my own homemade baking powder with baking soda, arrowroot powder and cream of tartar. But the packages of arrowroot powder always passed their expiration dates before I’d used even half, and it seemed like a waste of money (and arrowroot, although to be honest I’m not really sure what that is). But then I found Rumford Baking Powder at my favorite health food store; it’s a “premium, aluminum free” baking powder that uses monocalcium phosphate as an acidifier. Monocalcium phosphate is generally recognized as safe, maybe even good for you depending on who you talk to, and Rumford Baking Powder isn’t that much more expensive than the regular kind, so I started using that instead of making my own.

So this morning I was making waffles for the kids, and I got to reading the fine print on the Rumford label, and discovered that it’s made by the Clabber Girl Corporation. I absorbed that info for a minute, and then wondered, “Why would a company acknowledge the strong connection between an ingredient and a disease, develop and offer a safer version of the product…and then keep on providing the original, probably dangerous version? I mean, why not just offer the safer product as a “new and improved” version of Clabber Girl Baking Powder? It works just as well in recipes. And not everyone shops in health food stores, or knows that consuming aluminum might seriously hink with the quality of their future life. Should there be some ethical responsibility taken here? Seriously, does it ALWAYS have to be about making a few extra bucks by using cheaper ingredients, even at the expense of your customers’ health?

Clearly I was never meant to be a mover and shaker in the world of big business, because these kinds of choices never make any sense to me.

Categories: Family, food, Health, Life, Nutrition | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Musings On Health, Nutrition And Baking Powder

  1. you are lucky that you are feeling like this ,, it as like pretty cool , when i read this


  2. Earl

    Tell me about it, it’s simply because of comfortability. They don’t want to lose customers who are comfortable with the original dangerous product and also do not want to lose customer like you who are questioning th safety of the original product. The big world of business is full of criminals.


  3. dsilkotch

    I absolutely agree about the business world being full of criminals, but I think that most consumers never read the ingredients on the food they buy, except maybe to check for calories or fat and sugar content. Offering aluminum-free baking powder with the same familiar Clabber Girl label shouldn’t lose them any customers, I would think. I suspect that they keep selling the original product because that way they can keep their prices competitive with all the other baking soda brands that use aluminum sulphate instead of the slightly-more-expensive monocalcium phosphate. That’s just my theory though; you might be right about the comfortability thing.


    • Anonymous

      They don’t discontinue the original because that would show they knew it was bad and thus possibly liable.



  4. This is slightly off topic, but I was just reading about the woman who gave birth to eight babies yesterday (and all are stable), and I have to wonder how hard it would be to have totally organic food for all and be environmentally aware – especially with all of those diapers.

    I try to look at every label when I purchase something (yes, off topic again from my orginal post…) because of so many added ingredients. To shop in a healthy way costs quite a bit more money. On a limited budget, I can’t help but notice how cheap starched are (not to mention candy!), and due to an inability to breakdown gluten (sp?), I am forced into more protein. I constantly worry about growth hormones, anitbiotics, and so on…yet, when I see things like smart chicken, I can’t help but wonder if it is still more than ‘just’ chicken.

    I’ve yet to find a place where I can purchase (affordably) buffalo. For some reason, some folks are less likely to pump them up (so to speak).

    In a small town, finding healthy foods at a reasonable cost is time-consuming. I’m still learning how many products gluten is in and at times, it feels overwhelming. Cooking the same foods repeatedly (trying different methods) gets old…any suggestions?


  5. Debora

    Eating healthy doesn’t have to be more expensive than eating junk, it’s just a little more time-consuming. Buying healthy ingredients and fixing meals from scratch will almost always be cheaper than buying the same meal in a restaurant or the freezer section of the supermarket. A small bunch of bananas costs about the same as a bag of chips. A cup of yogurt is cheaper than a candy bar. And a small garden plot or a few container plantings of fresh veggies can produce three seasons’ worth of salads, snacks and meals for a fraction of what you’d pay at the store.

    To save time, you can also try cooking up large batches from scratch and then freezing the extra in serving-size containers for days when there’s no time to cook.


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