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MSG: The most harmful substance in our food?

Jeanine Gurley

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1393
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
Inspired by Paul and Helens review of the movie The Beautiful Truth, I decided to dig up an old MSG fact sheet and share it. I am not a scientist or a doctor, my research is strictly surfing the net and my opinions are my own – so here goes (‘in my opinion’ disclaimer):

MSG IS THE MOST HARMFUL SUBSTANCE IN OUR FOOD SYSTEM TODAY. If the addition of MSG for flavor enhancing purposes were removed from all processed foods and banned from all restaurant kitchens – the entire conventional food system in the United States would collapse. Without the addition of MSG as a flavor enhancer the only marketable foods remaining would be those produced using sustainable production practices.

There would be NO NEED to educate people on the benefits of ‘real’ food if MSG were banned from use as a flavor enhancer – the public would simply refuse to eat processed food BECAUSE
….the quality of mass produced factory farmed foods is so poor that without artificial flavor enhancers the food is unpalatable – tasteless-often odorless – pretty much like eating a piece of paper.

Based on my own internet research (please feel free to correct my data) the obesity rate in the U.S. was steadily increasing for decades until 1993(ish). In the early 1990s the obesity rate suddenly shot sky high. About the same time the New Jersey flavor industry was in its infancy but already had a strong foothold in the US food market.

Now, almost 20 years later just about everything that we put in our mouths that comes from a commercial source has been touched in some way or another by a flavor born in a lab in New Jersey. Coincidentally (or not) obesity is a problem that the majority of Americans cannot overcome.

Our US health and food oversight programs want us all to believe it is ALL OUR FAULT because we don’t get enough exercise, eat too many sugary foods and so on. But I ask all of you that are over 50 years old to think back to when you were 10 years old:

How many obese children did you know? I can count two – it did happen but it was not the norm.

How many severely obese adults did you see out on the street? I think I saw a small handful the entire time I was growing up. Now it is an everyday and everywhere occurrence.

If you are reading this you are probably already educated about the benefits of eating real food so this is mostly preaching to the choir. But I really feel driven to try to get the word out to people who are struggling with this problem that IT IS NOT ALL THEIR FAULT, IT IS NOT THE SUGAR, the doctors ARE WRONG. Simply removing all artificial flavor enhancers from the diet will cause an almost immediate reduction in weight alone – not to mention all of the other health benefits that follow eating better quality naturally flavorful foods.

Just imagine what it would taste like to eat a BK burger without that flame grilled taste; mass produced grain fed and hormone fattened beef. – BTW the flavor doesn’t come from the flame – it comes from New Jersey.
Attached is a ‘fact’ sheet that I made up years ago, some of my links may be broken. Please feel free to tear apart my assertions – I’ll be happy just to get people to start thinking about this even if they don’t agree with me.

[Download Hidden Monosodium Glutamate.pdf] Download

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Jocelyn Campbell

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 3118
Location: Missoula, MT
I'm with you, Jeanine, I think MSG and food additives should be avoided as much as possible. I'm not going to attempt to chime in either for or against MSG being the most harmful, because that's far beyond my knowledge set, though I do have a couple other comments.

I wish I'd had your MSG reference sheet when I started having kids--it's excellent. I only recently learned that 'yeast extract' can be MSG and I began avoiding MSG when I was pregnant with my daughter over 24 years ago!

My body and mind are happiest with organic, pasture-raised, home-cooked food. At a minimum I feel "off," and I can even feel down-right sick after eating processed, prepared, deli or restaurant food - all of which seem to contain some kind of additive. Usually MSG, often nitrates or nitrites, as well as all that other icky stuff.

In thinking about solutions, there has been a correlation between poverty and obesity and/or food deserts. Which gets me thinking above and beyond plunking a Wal-Mart into a food desert area. Solutions more like more local farmers and local, fresh food. When "preaching to the choir" as you said, most of us on permies would love to patronize a local farmers market, but in the broader community, it's not always that simple.

I recently spoke with a farmers market manager who said a lot of the produce the farmers donated to the local food bank was going unused. She said the clients at the food bank didn't know what to do with it. Though when I put myself in the shoes of someone going to the food bank, I can imagine several (most?) might be too stressed/depressed/ill/busy to do anything with fresh produce. I think an awesome idea would be for community kitchens to prepare the produce--either simply wash and chop it, or make it into soups or other dishes--for some of the malnourished (I consider folks addicted to food-additive-type food to be malnourished) or under-served populations.

It's a major educational challenge to get folks converted to fresh, wholesome food (without additives) and bring along our messed-up health and food systems. What could be some other creative solutions for change?

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Eric Thompson

Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 319
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
I also think that MSG flavoring in "not food" is a big factor in eating the processed stuff - I would say salt is still the #1 evil for this in processed food as well. I don't buy anything with MSG, and avoid things with a lot of salt (even salted peanut butter, etc). The more I stay with my standard shopping rule to "only buy foods with three ingredients or less" the easier it is to avoid these. The one 'problem' with this: it's harder to enjoy a restaurant meal! Restaurants routinely oversalt the food and don't use the greatest ingredients -- I'm much more sensitive to what I eat in a restaurant, and often feel that "salt overload" regret later.

I will also go as far as saying that large amounts of salt, liquid smoke, and whatever else goes into sausages are a good indicator that they border on "not food" -- even though I admit i really like sausages and pepperoni! I only eat them in small quantities..

MSG is banned in our house, but we still get the occasional instant noodle cup coming through which the kids cheer for...
Tyler Ludens

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
It's a major educational challenge to get folks converted to fresh, wholesome food (without additives) and bring along our messed-up health and food systems. What could be some other creative solutions for change?

Gardening and home ec in school. Teaching kids how to grow food and prepare it, so they can teach their parents.

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Lloyd George

Joined: Jan 25, 2012
Posts: 159
that may be an oversimplification...but true nontheless....I think Monsanto, Cargill, and their ilk, are the most dangerous substances in our food system today.

well..that and lack of discipline. lol
Tyler Ludens

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
Lloyd George wrote:that may be an oversimplification...but true nontheless....I think Monsanto, Cargill, and their ilk, are the most dangerous substances in our food system today.

well..that and lack of discipline. lol

The problem is these substances mess with the body chemistry so much that the average person is not able to have "discipline" about eating. The substances make the food addictive.
Lloyd George

Joined: Jan 25, 2012
Posts: 159
oh, I know it does...much like kicking smoking, but harder...not really a good idea to quit eating...lol.

since I finally got out of the bloody navy, i have endevoured <smirk> to eat better...it is difficult to get off of the junk...
Alisa Connell

Joined: Aug 07, 2012
Posts: 1
Thank you so very much Jeanine for the MSG document. I had no idea it was disguised under all of those names. It kind of scares me to think I've been so careful to avoid it and yet it's still in some of the food I eat without me knowing it, like GMO's!
John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6892
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
For a more detailed listing of "food" ingredients that contain MSG, read this document:

Besides MSG, I believe there is also another culprit in the modern obesity epidemic.
A number of years ago we were all duped by the scare that excess fats were killing us all.
You could not watch a news broadcast without being reminded.
The public began demanding 'reduced fat' versions of everything.
The food industry realized that many products would become bland with reduced fats.
To compensate for the missing flavors, they added MORE SUGAR (or HFCS).

Elisabeth Tea

Joined: Sep 08, 2012
Posts: 53
Part of the reason that MSG is so bad is because it's a neurotoxin. Part of the reason is because it replaces real food. Since it enhances the taste of food, it means that less real ingredients are necessary.
Melba Corbett

Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 164
Location: North Carolina
MSG doesn't just make you gain weight, it causes heart palpitations, migraine headaches, high blood pressure and a host of other things. In my case, it causes initial heart palpitations, makes it skip beats, and then sometimes my heart just stops!. I have to beat myself in the chest with my hands doubled into a fist to restart it, nearly passing out in the process, and take lots of Vit C to try to help neutralize it. Then that is followed by a three day or more intense migraine with severe vomiting and brain swelling so severe that sometimes my forehead bulges out. I've learned to read labels, ask questions and not eat out much unless I know the people and how they prepare the food. (Home grown is better anyway).

Many people are hospitalized with "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" from this stuff. For many years, I worked in the hospital and this information is from doctors and nurses I worked with. Many have died from heart attacks, MSG induced. It should have been banned long ago, but you know how that is. Too many people are making money on it.

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