The Food Conspiracy

The odds are stacked against you. It’s worse than betting against a casino. These giants have science and marketing on their side. It’s simply not a fair fight.

If you’ve ever wondered why you feel tired all day, or why you can’t lose weight, it’s time that you got let in on a massive cabal that is conspiring against you. I’m talking about the food industry and every dirty trick that they use to get you to consume more and more of their poison. But don’t worry, it’s not just you. They are battling all of us, and I’ll show you how to fight back and regain your health. First, I want you to meet someone just like you.

Several years ago, down here at my gym in South Carolina, I began working with a client named Renee. She was trying desperately to make healthy changes and came to me at her lowest moment in life. She needed to make healthier lifestyle choices and set a better example for her three young children.

But Renee was overweight and depressed. Nothing had worked for her in the past. Low-carbohydrate diets, low-fat diets, cabbage soup diets, they were all miserable failures. Exasperated, she was willing to make one final attempt to turn her life around. Drastic times called for drastic measures. She was ready to hire a trainer.

That’s where I came in. Renee was like many clients that I had worked with before. Small changes began making a big difference, and after a few weeks of consistent exercise she was ready for her most important – yet simple – assignments.

Renee was to visit the grocery store on Sunday morning and purchase all of her food for the entire week. That’s it. I did not give her any guidelines or suggestions, just the simple task of buying groceries for the week. I told Renee that I would come by her house on Monday morning to see what she had bought and to reveal the common mistakes that she was guaranteed to be making.

As I walked into her beautiful country home on another gorgeous Monday morning in Charleston, I immediately confirmed my suspicions that Renee had been cheated and scammed by the food industry.

The packaged food industry has done a brilliant job at tricking us. Thanks to advanced science – known as food chemistry – these corporations are creating products that are almost as addictive as tobacco. They are ready to Win At All Costs, even if it’s your life.

This Win At All Cost approach includes looking for new and innovative ways to hook their consumer by sneaking salt, sugar and fat into their food. It’s no wonder that obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are at an all time high in America. What the food industry has done to so-called “food” is downright evil.

The packaged food conglomerates have become ultra-competitive in choosing profit over people. As I stood in Renee’s country kitchen, she became extremely emotional as I let her in on this conspiracy and how food chemistry was destroying her health – and even the health of her innocent children. Renee was like millions of Americans, completely duped by heartless food corporations.

“Daniel, I don’t know who to trust or what to believe now,” she said with tears in her eyes. I’ll never forget that moment. Her three children had quietly wandered into the kitchen without her knowing it, and the sadness in their eyes, as they looked upon their almost-defeated mother, will stay with me forever.

Renee was just a middle-class single-mom, trying to make ends meet and raise a happy family. Yet because she was tricked and manipulated each through food marketing, she barely had the energy to get out of bed.

It was time to take charge and show Renee the ends and outs of grocery shopping.

We sat down for an hour that morning and opened her eyes to the sneaky tricks of grocery stores, food packaging, and the entire snack food industry.

The most common action these companies have taken to outwit consumers is misleading health claims. Industry leaders know that consumers are becoming more aware of the health risk associated with poor food choices. As a result, they have decided to take the Win At All Cost approach and use misleading claims on labels to deceive their consumers. Claims such as “Light”, “All Natural”, “Low Fat” or “Low Carb” are all commonly found on food labels.

At first glance these type of food labels look like the right choice to someone such as Renee. However, nine times out of ten it’s just glorified junk food that offers no real health benefits.

For example, Renee had a box of “fiber” bars in her pantry. These are nothing but glorified candy bars. I pointed out that the ingredient label included corn syrup, fructose, caramel color, sugar, cellulose gum and a laundry list of other terrible ingredients. This is an all too common mistake.

The second common method the food industry and grocery stores use to trick their consumers is something called product placement. Have you ever driven by a car dealership and seen the most popular or “tempting” cars in the front of the lot? That’s not just a coincidence; in fact it’s a very strategic technique to catch the eye of a consumer.

The food industry is no different. The most popular food items are placed at eye level for the average person. As you can imagine, these are the same items that consist of processed food and sugar, not the foods that are actually beneficial to our health.

The third alarming scheme the food industry contributes is a phenomenon called food science. Think about scientists in the lab frantically trying to create new and improved ways to make food more harmful and addictive, despite the fact that they know you don’t need it. That’s essentially what’s happening. Since it’s a Win At All Cost approach, they must keep up with competitors and find different ways to outsmart consumer behaviors.

As I finished explaining this to Renee, she was in complete shock, and was embarrassed at how gullible she had been over the past several years. I assured her this was not her fault. It has happened to almost every one of us at one time or another, including every top fitness and nutrition expert I know. She was not alone and had nothing to be ashamed of.

I looked at my watch and it was almost time for me to go to my next client. Before leaving, I wanted to give Renee a few simple guidelines to follow next time she went to the grocery store.

You should never walk into the grocery store hungry. How many times have you been in the grocery store on an empty stomach and grabbed something off the shelf that you really didn’t want or need simply because you were starving? Hunger and food cravings can make you extremely vulnerable and lead to decisions off of impulse.

Always plan ahead by making a grocery list before you shop based only on what you NEED not what you WANT. You know how the old cliché goes; failing to plan is planning to fail. Write a list ahead of time and don’t veer off of it.

Stay out of the center aisles and you can never go wrong. Have you ever noticed that all the produce, meats and dairy are always on the perimeter of the grocery store? Once you decide to venture into the center aisles it never turns out well. Everything you truly need to survive – and thrive – is located on the perimeter of the grocery store. All the processed food and packaging can only be found in the center aisles.

Perhaps the most important tip to remember when at the grocery store is to read labels – properly. Watch out for labels that contain fructose, corn syrup, sucrose, partially hydrogenated oils and any type of food coloring.

The newest trick is to use cane syrup, evaporated cane juice, or worse, organic versions of those ingredients. But have no doubt, they are nothing but added sugar.

The most nutritious foods should have the least complicated packaging. As a matter of fact, all the food you need to survive and thrive should come without any packaging. Here’s my favorite rule of thumb from Michael Pollan’s wonderful book, Food Rules – Never buy something that has more than 5 ingredients. It’s simple yet extremely effective.

As I finished that last statement, Renee promised me that would throw out every single item that did not follow the suggested guidelines and was going to head back to the grocery store that evening. Renee now had a better understanding of the shady food industry and was fully aware of how to never be cheated on again.

Most importantly she could now become a better role model for her family, leading and living a healthy lifestyle by example. Tossing a few items of junk food was a small price to pay for her family’s well being, and it will be for yours as well.

Please let us know what simple guidelines you follow when grocery shopping. How do you overcome the trillion dollar food industry scams?

[Ed. Note: Daniel Woodrum is a Master CTT, leading fat loss expert, and owner of two kickboxing gyms in Charleston, South Carolina. He has been running his two successful gyms since the age of 24, and has recently created 120 Gourmet Gluten Free Recipes product. Visit Daniel’s website at for more information.]
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  • David Orton

    I had just this discussion with my neighbour a few minutes ago. Shes a work from home mum with twin 5 year old boys and she said “It’s just so hard, with salt, sugar, fats, free-range, organic , food miles and fair trade to consider. How can you quickly decide what to buy when yu are on a budget and have to fit in shopping between completing a teaching assignment and picking up the kids from school?” I replied that I just use the “less is better” rule, and KISS (Keep It Simple S….) Less packaging, fewer ingredients, fewer food miles (we live in the English West Country with wonderful local farms and small producers around) less sugar, less fat and less packaged food and “ready meals”. Do I ever shop in sipermarkets? Yes. Do I ever buy ready meals, Yes, sometimes and when I was a single Dad working from home I did not always have time to cook a meal for myself and my four daughters. We also sometimes had (shudder) Take-aways. So the other rule is do the best you can, keep learning and do not feel guilty. I am a more informed food shopper now than when I started doing the weekly food shop on my own, and I now make some different choices from twenty years ago, but I am proud that I fed my girls good food, that we sat down to meals together and they knew the food was prepared with care and love. Be aware, do the best you can keep learning and don’t feel guilty!

    • ttcert

      Less is best. Well said. Start simple first. Thanks!

  • BCook

    What helps us the most is the ‘five or fewer ingredients’ rule. If you don’t know what’s in your food, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. The next argument to address is ‘it’s expensive to eat healthy.’ It does cost a little more now, but look at the financial burden of today’s health problems stemming back to the foods we ate growing up. Buy in bulk, freeze the excess, and think of the medical expenses you’re saving. Prepare in advance: we pre-cook for the week on Sundays. Finally, learn how to cook. ‘Healthy’ should not equal ‘boring.’ The same breast prepared for the week on Sunday can be diced into a salad, stir fry, fajita or taco mix, or seasoned from Italian to Cajun. And now with a healthy foundation, give yourself permission to indulge in what you think you’re missing (I recommend no more than 10-20% of your weekly caloric average, depending on your goals). You’ll find it losing its hold over you.

    • ttcert

      Really great advice, many thanks B!

  • Tina Thornton

    What helps our family is going to a couple of the many farmers markets here in Southern California. We can get the bulk of what our family needs, fresh, local and in a vibrant community setting. We can keep our money local as well and cut the fossil fuel aspect tremendously. No “organic” apples from New Zealand or Canada when they grow plentifully here and with so much more flavor.

    Question: I once purchased an “organic” apple from Whole Foods, grown in Canada. IT WOULD NOT TURN BROWN OR BREAK DOWN even after weeks on the counter then the compost! When I mentioned this to the produce guy he said that he had heard that the FDA has a blanket irradiation policy for all foods grown out of this country, even “organic”! Can anyone else address this?

  • learningguy

    This may sound like a very simple idea, but my suggestion is to take time to learn to cook. Learn to use tools such as a slow cooker, bigger pots so you can have leftovers, and containers to make and store your own mixes. There are lots of great cookbooks to help you eat more healthy and easy-to-prepare foods. There are even cookbooks for make-ahead meals (a friend did a month at a time when she was busy with three children). Sure sometimes we have to take the occasional shortcut, but it is very satisfying knowing that you made a healthy, excellent-tasting meal for far less than a packaged one!

    • ttcert

      Yes, well said. Home cooking is Dani’s specialty.

  • Wavy

    Check the FDA site to ensure the produce guy is correct.

  • Wavy

    The best way to beat the food industry is to grow your own. Even if you live in an apartment, it’s possible. Another example of simple, not easy.

    • ttcert

      Thanks Wavy, great point. Homegrown goodness for the win!

    • non12stepworks

      I grow my own and buy inexpensive organic staples for an entirely plant-based diet. I eat very well on less than $30 a week. It is a complete fallacy to say that it’s more expensive to eat healthy food. Sure, if you think you need meat. Human beings have no need for animal flesh. I am 56 and have never eaten animal flesh. I spend a nominal amount a month on condiments and ethnic goodies I can’t grow myself, and I am a true foodie interested in all world cuisines. The convenience/expense gambit is just an excuse. Educate yourself. You are not a victim of anything or anyone. Learn about food and sidestep food marketing. Learn to use a crockpot. Get a dehydrator and dry veg and fruit when it’s in season. No excuses.

      • ttcert

        Thank you!

      • franklai

        Remember, Organic means farmers can use copper oxide, and other nasty ‘organic’ fertalizers and pesticides. If it’s harmful to the insect it’s harmful to you.

  • Mikeo

    Become a vegan, meditate DAILY to clear your mind, do yoga – that will surely help crave your hunger. Plus, you’ll feel more healthy and alert!

    • franklai

      That’s amazingly liberal and unclear.

  • Deborah Munoz-Chacon

    I love to go to the Farmer’s Market on the weekend. You find local grown food that is better and tastier than what you get from the grocery store. And, you support local farmers.

    • ttcert

      Great call

  • Lucy Mauterer

    Hi Craig. I buy most of my meat/pork/eggs/milk from a local farmer who pastures his animals. In the growing season I buy fruits and veggies from him and only fill in from the grocery store with fresh fruits and veggies. I am on a special diet and cannot have anything from a can so most of our food is fresh made by me. I cooked this way even before my doc put me on the detox diet. My family eats well and we are pretty healthy. Even though I am busy running a business, I schedule time to cook and share that responsibility with my talented son, who also likes to cook. I am so glad you are encouraging better food choices in folks!

    • ttcert

      Great work, Lucy!

  • drbarney

    I approach every food company as though they were a candidate to be hired to provide me with my food. This is analogous to a principal in an elementary school screening applicants for a job that will have them working with children. The principal has at his disposal a list of convicted sex offenders and is reviewing resumes of the candidates. Many of the resumes are from candidates on the sex offender list ant they are automatically disqualified. There is no need to read their resumes or to listen to their arguments of why they want to be hired.

    I approach the food companies the same way. The big names are on my “sex offender” registry: Nestle, Nabisco, Kraft, Kellogg, General Mills, Dole Del Monte, KCF, Coca Cola, McDonald’s etc. I get helo from the local health food store to warn of stealth “sex offender” products such as Kashi which is owned by Kellogg, Yoplat yogurt made by but unlabelled Pepsi Cola, much in the manner of a sex offender trying to deceive the principal by changing his name on his resume. That way I have a chance to get a more honest food resume in the nutrient label where HFCS or canola oil further screen the resumes.

    Of course, exercising with weights has to go with the elimination of the “sex offender registry” food companies.
    This has worked very well for me. The good food even tastes better, believe it or not.