PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, and Nestle are reported to have partnered with a biotech firm called Senomyx, which uses human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted fetus (HEK 293) in their product testing to find flavors that will positively affect human taste receptors."
How bizarre is that? Now we not only have to worry about the usual additives and preservatives but we've got to watch out for embryonic kidney cells?! At first I didn't believe it. I was unfamiliar with the website so I didn't know how reliable the information was. I went to my trusty friend, Google, for answers. Apparently I've been living under a rock because it was all over the Internet being reported by several big news organizations. There was even already a nationwide boycott going.
Before you get too grossed out, the cells are not actually in the finished food product. From my understanding cells from the original abortion (a little boy whose remains are now lovingly referred to as HEK 293) have been used for years and years in research. They have helped create vaccines, drugs that treat arthritis, and the abortion pill. According to the watchdog group, The Children of God for Life, the Senomyx company began using the fetal kidney cells "to function like the taste-receptor cells we have in our mouth. This way, Senomyx can text millions of substances to see if they work as different types of taste enhancers without subjecting human volunteers to endless taste tests." Unreal.
I immediately wanted to join the boycott of these companies. If we consumers allow this, where will it end?
Can one person make a difference? Maybe not. In all likelihood they'll never miss my business and, as Jackie has pointed out, I can't avoid every company that does unethical things. But I refuse to shrug my shoulders, give up, and attempt to believe that ignorance is bliss. So the last two times we shopped, we refrained from putting any Pepsi, Nestle, or Kraft products into our cart and you know what? It was difficult! The market is absolutely saturated with their goods including some of our families favorites--Capri Sun, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and THE SPAGHETTI IN THE GREEN BOX. It is definitely hard to dodge these companies and still buy convenience foods. So I'm looking to go more natural and perhaps make more things from scratch so that I can choose what ingredients go into the food my family eats. I really want to focus more on eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
My kids will drink only chocolate milk which is why we were buying Carnation Instant Breakfast. It is loaded with vitamins and has less sugar than regular chocolate drink mixes so it seemed like a good choice. Practically every chocolate drink mix at the supermarket is manufactured by one of the questionable companies so I wondered what I was going to do. Today I made my own powdered chocolate milk mix as well as my own chocolate syrup. We're doing our own taste testing (without the help of embryonic kidney cells!) to see which we prefer. If you're interested in making your own homemade chocolate milk here's how we did it:
For a dry mix...combine 1 cup cocoa, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 3 cups dry milk. Use 2-3 TBSP with 8 ounces of cold milk. Shake well.
For syrup...combine 8 ounces heaving whipping cream with 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (we used Ghirahdelli). Bring to a gentle boil in a sauce pan, stirring until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks using it to taste in your cold or warm milk.
I also found a website that had recipes for several different mixes and convenience foods that you could make from scratch in order to choose your own ingredients and their manufacturers if you're interested. Click here to view that site.
I really don't want to come across as some sort of crazy extremist but this is just something I've been convicted about. I feel like God is calling me away from certain foods (my beloved Dr. Pepper was the first!).It's definitely more work but I'm finding joy in choosing and preparing food for my family that we can consume without abandoning any morals and I hope that I can learn more about eating naturally and become a better cook!