"If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it" ...commonly seen quote

Leifer

Senior Member
This commonly seen quote is what I'll call a.... "skim-surface" simplistic attention-getter, and is often found among social media posts and web sites.
It suggests, that many people should be afraid of technical, scientific, or latin names of commonly found food products and other ingredients..........that are difficult to pronounce -- in their pure or otherwise natural state.

Various graphics:
if-you-cant-pronounce-it-dont-eat-it-300x267.png
http://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/09/23/chemical-quiz/


MjAxMy0wNDZhNTAzYTcwMGMwZGNh.png
http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMy1iYmY2MGJlZTAwOGIzMzMz

if-you-cant-pronounce-it-dont-eat-it1.jpg

http://www.365daysofradicalselftransformation.com/2014/03/21/5-ways-ditch-diet-fads-trust-gut/


These graphics are a scare tactic of sorts, to get people to believe that the "list of ingredients" may contain potentially harmful substances that best be avoided.
Most "hard to pronounce" ingredients are completely natural. Regulations by the US FDA labeling, often requires a technical description if added as a separate ingredient, and also can be specified as "dietary supplements".
http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm2006828.htm

To be fair.....not all ingredients are "naturally occurring", such as preservatives, some additives, and food coloring. There are a much lesser amount of these though....and investigation may be necessary if you are concerned.
It's unfortunate these graphics do not explain the above.
But they don't. The quote plays to people's base mentality.


Let's cook a healthy soup, and see what's in it.....and if the ingredients are easily pronounceable:
Umbellularia californica
Daucus carota
Allium cepa
Apium graveolens var. dulce
Solanum lycopersicum
Allium sativum
(the above is: bay leaf, carrot, onion, celery, tomato, garlic)

Skeptiod has an article on this subject: (by Michael Rothschild)
http://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/09/23/chemical-quiz/
The NPR story.... http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89876927
(hear it... http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=89876927&m=89913844 )


While Pollan's suggestions are generally good advice.......the quote, "Don't eat anything you cannot pronounce"......has become a viral meme for many....or any, alternative health web ideas.
 
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Chew

Senior Member
"If you can't pronounce it then you don't know enough about chemistry to be telling people what they should and shouldn't be eating."
 

David Fraser

Senior Member
Tzatziki with your ekmekarasi anyone?

I would probably starve if I did not eat things I could not pronounce.

Ok starve may be an exaggeration but I would probably end up weighing less than 18 stone ;-)
 

Chew

Senior Member
I like those posters but they should have gone with the scarier sounding names, like (2R,3S,4R,5R)-2,3,4,5,6-Pentahydroxyhexanal instead of glucose, or hydroxic acid instead of water.
 
Tzatziki with your ekmekarasi anyone?

I would probably starve if I did not eat things I could not pronounce.

Ok starve may be an exaggeration but I would probably end up weighing less than 18 stone ;-)
LOL I hear you...I love Vietnamese food to a large extent, but I do have trouble pronouncing a lot of it...But that's my own fault!;)
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
I like those posters but they should have gone with the scarier sounding names, like (2R,3S,4R,5R)-2,3,4,5,6-Pentahydroxyhexanal instead of glucose, or hydroxic acid instead of water.
I agree. As someone who did a chemistry degree, I find the amount of "chemical paranoia" out there quite depressing. The graphics like the egg one Mick posted are a clever rebuttal. There's a whole series of them for different foods.
 

Brainiachick

Active Member

Ouch, Mick! I guess loads of us shouldn't be eating eggs then :)!

I couldn't pronounce one Thai word, yet Thai food is my favourite! So does that mean that food or food products not written in a language one understands or speaks fluently shouldn't be eaten and if whoever thought up this quote visited Russia and couldn't pronounce one word in Russia, but was served fries but written in Russia which he/she can't pronounce he/she shouldn't eat it and starve for the duration of the trip? Sound rather lame to me. We could just easily rename food or anything for that matter to our language or give a name we can pronounce a la Oryza sativa to simple 'rice' Vigna unguiculata to 'cowpea' (blackeye pea)?! I guess it's one of those smarty pant kind of statements that was meant to be eye-catching, but ended up getting its knickers up in a twist.
 

Debillw3

New Member
I've never actually heard that quote used seriously before now...

I've heard (and used) it in the context of a fancy (usually French) restaurant when ordering the simplest and most Americanized thing on the menu to diffuse the tension of being seen as uncultured...

"I'll have the chicken nuggets."
*Awkward stare from waiter and table mates*
"What? It's the only thing I recognize and can pronounce. And if I can't pronounce it, I ain't eating it."
*Everyone laughs*

And...scene.
 

LouV

Member
@Debillw3 This (french) poster has the same problem in fancy restaurants with dishes which take more than 2 lines on the menu.
More seriously, thank you for finding the true source of the quote, I thought it had been invented by Food Babe.
 

Debillw3

New Member
Well, mercury and lead is quite easy to pronounce. So... is that healthier than dihydrogen-monoxide?
Common misconception.

Just because one shouldn't eat things they can't pronounce, it doesn't mean that the alternative holds true.

Also lead can be quite difficult to pronounce if read and out of context.
 

Gundersen

Active Member
Common misconception.

Just because one shouldn't eat things they can't pronounce, it doesn't mean that the alternative holds true.
True, and that is why one-sentence diet advice rarely can stand alone. It is both too limiting in some instances and way too loose in others.
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member
The OP's soup probably would taste better with a little added Sodium Chloride like all the commercial soups have in abundance.
"Chloride" aka Chlorine for gawd's sake! Not to forget the huge amount of Hydrogen hydroxide of course (often in equal amounts with dihydrogen monoxide)!
 

Efftup

Senior Member
well that's why we shouldn't eat these nasty "chemicals", we should eat NATURAL stuff cos it's healthy, like Foxglove, Belladonna, and Blowfish.
 

Efftup

Senior Member
drown in it? is that ALL you are worried about? the solid form AND the liquid form can cause serious damage to skin and tissue. It comes in our chemtrails, and car exhausts AND they deliberately make sure it is in ALL our drinking water.
 

Brainiachick

Active Member
drown in it? is that ALL you are worried about? the solid form AND the liquid form can cause serious damage to skin and tissue. It comes in our chemtrails, and car exhausts AND they deliberately make sure it is in ALL our drinking water.
How could I forget chemtrail and all that? Now, you've taken it to a completely new level! How restrained of me! But again, I am a lousy swimmer so the possibility of drowning in a bucket-full of dihydrogen monoxide must have presented a 'real' and 'imminent' danger in my mind :).
 
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PCB

Member
Perhaps a better proverb would be: "If you can't look it up, don't eat".
.
If they follow through it could have vast positive effects on the gene pool.
.
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member
Perhaps a better proverb would be: "If you can't look it up, don't eat".
.
If they follow through it could have vast positive effects on the gene pool.
.
Except you run across crap like "DONT INJEST DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE" with pretty pictures, which scare people off. People need to learn how to do research first, and THEN look things up they dont understand. Otherwise I whole heartedly agree @PCB
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
ALL of life is nothing but chemistry. If you want to get 'down-and-dirty' with the actual definition.

The names of the chemicals are made (given) by we Humans. What I'm trying to point out here is: Take a nice flank steak, from a cow.
You could isolate any number of amino acids (for example), with the appropriate chemical names (Mick West's excellent example of the egg, a few posts above, shows this).

Also, a nod to "di-hydrogen monoxide"...hang on....by 'brainiachick' (Post #20). Really....I won't post a video (yet again...been done) so hit the YouTube, and you will find numerous funny videos.

EDIT: Here, one of my faves RE: 'H2O'. (This is only the YouTube address, you can copy/paste once on the YT website): watch?v=yi3erdgVVTw
 

PCB

Member
Also, a nod to "di-hydrogen monoxide"
Nod times 2.
Far from a new one for me but I've always liked it and I haven't seen it in years.
Considering printing up a label for the water bottle, oops, di-hydrogen monoxide bottle my wife takes to work.
.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
This may be a related story?

Gist of the radio article that I heard? Lists of ingredients on packaging might include the phrase 'natural ingredients' near the end...this supposed to be a "trade secret" concoction.

Seems that in order (at least under U.S. FDA rules) to be called 'natural' they must come from 'nature', in some way.
 

MikeC

Closed Account
Which substances do not "come from nature...in some way"?? o_O

All the atoms except Hydrogen and Helium were made in stars, so everything originates in nature :)
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
All the atoms except Hydrogen and Helium were made in stars, so everything originates in nature

(You're such a science(y) nerd!!!)

That's why I can call you (friend?).....

(It's all good....)......

AND? "nerd" is not a pejorative. It is an expression of like mind. There! So be it.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
I wish to attempt to bring a thread about this topic 'back-on-track', if I can.

Additives in foods that we consume. Seems to be topical. I looked (again) at the OP and didn't see anything important that was attempted to "point-out". Did I miss it?

Just to finish off my (admittedly) off-the-cuff thoughts on this? We Humans have survived as a species for a LONG, LONG time. 100's of thousands of years, by most estimations.

Evolution has served us well, and there are certainly multiple adaptations within our digestive tracts to handle most foods....(survival of the fittest)...sorry, but THAT is how it works, in nature!

Now, we have science on our side of course. Wonderful, innit???
 
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