Sunday, September 29, 2013


Ever since mid September, when my husband left for another work shift several hours north of Red Deer AB, I started blogging on the daily basis. Despite late nights and full days as a mother, a cook and a wanna-be writer, I managed to complete each assignment with a great sense of satisfaction and a vague hope that somewhere somebody will be affected by my ramblings and take the new course towards healthier living, as a result.

At times, I struggled to find the right words, but the burning desire to educate kept me going. Last night, however, the invisible switch was flicked off, leaving me in complete darkness. The writer's spirit migrated to what must have been a more efficient use of its time- someone, perhaps, with a thoroughly thought-through, step-by-step plan of what it is she was doing with her blogging. I, of course, do not possess such a plan or a set of blueprints to take me to the Promised Land as a successful author and educator. The only thing I know how to do is to take one day at a time- recipe by recipe, exposure by exposure, course by course- until someone notices.

If anyone can understand my drive to promote healthier living, it has got to be the Nestlé Company. After all, its corporate webpage confirms that achieving a balanced diet and overall well-being is in the core of its business, while understanding how food nurtures people and helps them to live well encourages production of the state-of-the-art consumer products. One of such products has got to be Nesquik- a fortified powdered beverage. 

While at Superstore Friday afternoon, I took several photos of various food items, including Nequik Powder 33% Less Sugar, and following Nestlé's own suggestion to read before you eat, I looked to see what ingredients it contained. Shying away on the lower part of the can, the ingredient list curled along the circumference like a python would curl around its prey before strangling it. The line-up of at least 11 ingredients- I say at least because the beverage is said to possibly contain milk, soy and wheat, as well as all the other additives that are not required to be listed- can also be found on Nestlé's product website. 

As I looked through the company's various websites, I came across another version of the same product, which seems to contain additional components and clues of absolute interest to an enthusiast investigator like myself. For convenience purposes, I will recount them here:


Sugar is self-explanatory. It has been talked about ever since I remember, yet we continue to consume it in substantial quantities. Given that it is the first ingredient on Nesquik's list, it must be the primary component- hardly uplifting news for any dilettante vaguely aware of the harm in simple carbohydrates. Besides, this is not the minimally processed turbinado or raw sugar, but rather very cheap and common refined white sugar. And just to make things a touch more delicious, sugar is often filtered using animal bone char- essentially, charred cattle bones- in order to remove colourants and other so-called impurities.   

Perhaps, sugar is not the best way to ensure [our children's] overall well-being. But let us not make a swift judgement and continue exploring... After all, cocoa is full of nutrients. Right? Not quite when it is processed, since every level of refining strips the originally whole food off its beneficial contents like vitamins and minerals. According to Life Enhancement e-magazine, the process of treating cocoa with alkali, called Dutching, reduces the levels of ORAC (antioxidation efficacy), TP (total polyphenol content) and flavanols (procyanidins). 

Multiple studies confirm the beneficial effects of cocoa polyphenols and flavanols on human health, especially with regard to cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, metabolic disorders, and cancer prevention. Therefore, diminishing these elements through alkalization lessens the preventative and healing effects of cocoa. However, since labeling guidelines in the US and Canada do not oblige the product manufacturer to explain further what method of alkalization was used, it is nearly impossible to determine exactly what nutritional value is left in Nestlé's cocoa.

Next in line is soya lecithin... One of the top ten ingredients used in processed foods, soy lecithin is used for its emulsifying properties and according to Solae LLC- a global leader in developing soy-based technologies- lecithins enable quick and complete mixing of powdered drinks and foods to keep them property blended. Now, lecithin is also a by-product of soybean oil production, most of which is now done using hexane- a neurotoxic petrochemical listed as a hazardous air pollutant and neurotoxin by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control, respectively. So there you have it: soy lecithin is produced by treating genetically engineered soybeans with a hazardous neurotoxin. If I was ever skeptical of Nestlé's aspirations to help us achieve a balanced diet, I am now convinced of its absolute hypocrisy- for no balanced diet, overall well-being or health can be supported through the use of petrochemicals, GE technologies or heavily processed and nutritionally deprived ingredients. 

By now, the lucky Charlie Bucket should be on his way to the hospital... Meanwhile, I am ready to investigate the forth element on Nesquik's list: salt. Just like sugar, salt is heavily processed to arrive at what is commonly known as table salt. Stripped of naturally occurring trace minerals and augmented with anticaking agents (Health Canada lists 15 of them as permitted agents in salt), it has little nutritional value and potentially more harm. According to the American Heart Association, diets rich in sodium are partially responsible for failing cardiovascular health. Adding enough to place it the forth of the list of 11-13 ingredients is hardly the decision of a health-conscious executive.

It is hard to imagine that I as a child ate Nesquik by handfuls, not always mixing it with anything at all- just stuffing dry brown powder in my mouth, fine particles entering my airways and making me choke. Was it a healthier beverage back then, 16 years ago? That is hard to say and rather irrelevant, as many children today must practice similar rituals behind their parents' backs. While Nestlé masks its real intentions under the false pretense of promoting health and wellness in its customers, we as parents must remain vigilant and examine every food product in question with a fine comb. For no global food manufacturer like the Swiss giant will do that job for us... 

Fully aware that there are many more ingredients to research, I will pause here and try to get some much needed sleep. Tomorrow, provided that my muse stays with me, THE MYSTERY SHOPPER: NESQUIK II will make its explosive appearance and create a never-before-seen uproar...

*Some of Nestlé's products list cocoa instead of cocoa processed of alkali. Whether this means that Nestlé buys cocoa from various suppliers or Canadian labeling guidelines do not require that the processing by alkali be identified is unclear at this point.

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