I was shocked, amused and dumbfounded – all at the same time – to read the results of a recent survey by Love Fresh Berries (a UK Fresh Fruit industry lobby group) that asked 2000 Brits about the food myths. Turns out, in spite of blogs like this one, there are lots of crazy ideas circulating about food…
According to the survey, 20 to 60 percent of people asked said they believed the following food ‘facts’ that are absolutely untrue:
- Chewing Gum takes up to 7 years to digest. (It really passes through you undigested in about 24 hours.)
- Carrots help you see in the dark. (No evidence exists to support this long-held belief.)
- The sugar in Fresh Fruit rots your teeth. (It’s actually the acid.)
- Chocolate is an aphrodisiac. (No, but it does help put some people ‘in the mood’.)
- The ‘exercise’ you get from eating Celery burns more calories than the Celery contains. (Sorry, but no. Just ‘No’.)
- Organic Food is more nutritious than ‘normal’ food. (There is no nutritional difference between organic and non-organic food.)
That’s just a sampling. But why do people believe so much that’s untrue about the food they eat?
Blame it on social media
Nicholas Marston, Chairman of Love Fresh Berries, said, in a statement: “There are so many food myths and misinformation around that it’s sometimes hard to know what is actually good for you and what we should be eating. […] Often the difference between truth and a myth can be somewhat unclear so it’s important to distinguish between them and get information from reputable sources, not hearsay.”
The survey revealed that:
- Almost half of those asked admitted they once believed something about food that they later discovered was not true.
- Two thirds said it’s hard to know what to believe about food, since there are so many conflicting ‘facts’ circulating these days.
- Almost half said they don’t bother to seek out nutritional information on the foods they eat.
- Of those who do seek information, the majority said they use websites or believe what they see and hear on TV.
- Another quarter said they rely on social media.
“With the growth of social media we have seen a huge rise in unqualified influencers giving nutritional advice to followers,” Marston laments. “[E]ven telling them not to eat fruit or berries because of high sugar content, or because they’ll rot your teeth when, in fact, berries are nutritional powerhouses which have many health benefits.”
I know that I, my fellow Chefs and my readers don’t fall for most of the food myths the Love Fresh Berries survey unmasked. We’re knowledgeable, scientific-minded types who know a reliable information source from a wacko food fad tweeter.
Alas, there are a lot of wack jobs out there and lots of people are tempted to believe their alarmist ravings rather than take a little extra time and effort to search out the real facts.
All I can do is continue to keep the truth flowing about food and nutrition and, when possible, unmask wackos who might not only confuse some folks about what’s good to eat or not, but (worst case) cause harm.
Indulge your curiosity. Seek out actual, factual information about the foods you eat, or are considering eating. For most foods, it’s as easy as Googling the name of the food plus ‘nutrition information’!
~ Maggie J.