The Food Babe Army Draws Their Guns On Big Pizza
This Tuesday, Charlotte-based food writer, Vani Hari, conscriptedÂ her #FoodBabeArmy up in a call to arms against the pizza chains America loves to eat when she published the results of her investigation into the ingredients used by pizza franchises across the country. With Subway, Chick-fil-A, and other Big Food businesses backpedaling and stammering after Food Babe reports, Vani must have a lot of PR teams nervously-waiting to see who she dials her sights in on next. At this point, I’m not really shocked when I learn about the dubious ingredients used for conventional packaged foods or sourced by large restaurant operations. I’ve come to expect yoga mat bread or butane derivatives to be served by Subway (Eat Fresh!) or The Colonel. I didn’t expect to find Mellow Mushroom’s pizzas shadowed with suspicion. Vani’s latest article left me feeling incredulous.
Should I be surprised Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s serve pizzas made with a Murderer’s Row of questionable ingredients? No, because back in college I delivered pizzas at a ramshackle Domino’s on Church St. in Burlington and the dough we used arrived pre-made each week in the back of a refrigerated tractor trailer. The dough balls showed up as sphere-shaped little globs made in some factory over yonder. I knew it wasn’t good for me then but I look back now with so much information at my fingertips and time has affirmed my suspicions.
Pizza should be really simple, right? A basic dough, olive oil, mozzarella or some other melting cheese, a tomato-based or white sauce, and whatever veggies and proteins your tastes desire. Add some spices. An oven. And presto! Flavor perfection. Filling, warm and savory, customizable. I love pizza.
But in reality, here is what you get when you order a pizza from places like CiCi’s, Domino’s, or Uno’s (among others so read the report at www.foodbabe.com): MSG hidden in everything from autolyzed yeast extract to hydrolyzed proteins, modified corn starch, partially-hydrogenated oils, disodium inosinate, maltodextrin, and a whole lot more GMO and chemical crap that doesn’t really sound like food at all. This isn’t a matter of calling salt sodium chloride and obfuscating simple names of foods. MSG and all its aliases are some serious offenders.Â If you don’t know about MSG here are the facts as reported by Hari,
“MSG and hidden MSG additives are known to commonly cause headaches, obesity and depression â€“ and this is just the tip of the iceberg. As an excitotoxin, its effect on the brain is so toxic that it has been linked to learning disabilities, Alzheimerâ€™s disease, Parkinsonâ€™s disease, and Lou Gehrigâ€™s disease. Board certified neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D. warns that, ‘Excitotoxins have been found to dramatically promote cancer growthâ€¦ It also causes a cancer cell to become more mobile, and that enhances metastasis, or spreadâ€¦ When you increase the glutamate level, cancer just grows like wildfire’.
This is serious stuff. But the industry will tell you itâ€™s harmless and that you are crazy for being concerned.
Donâ€™t make the mistake of thinking that it is okay to eat this stuff occasionally, because these ingredients can stick around in your body for a long time, leach nutrients from your system, and can make you really sick. As put by my pal Kristen Michaelis at FoodRenegade.com, ‘Not only is MSG not a traditional food, not only are many people immediately sensitive to it, but it can also interrupt the hormonal and biological development of children! Lest you think this is all fanciful, itâ€™s important to remember that a number of studies have found that the effects of MSG can occur cumulatively over time with subsequent exposure.’â€ť
Food Babe’s dedication to facts with links to sources and supporting data is refreshing in today’s media climate. Honesty in mainstream media is pretty rare considering companies like Papa John’s and McDonald’s keep the lights on at most of the five major media companies. Hari leaves little to conjecture and I’ve come to expect a couple new names to cross of the restaurant rotation after each of her reports.Â But what shocked me, what absolutely astounded me was seeing the Mellow Mushroom refusing to disclose anything but the bare minimum of information to Vani Hari. As she wrote in her article, “Little Caesars, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) and Mellow Mushroom have all refused to answer my questions about their ingredients. I was told by Mellow Mushroomâ€™s corporate offices that they will only comply with minimal government regulations, which require them to publish an allergen list.”
WTF? WHY U NO INTERNET MELLOW MUSHROOM?
Let’s get right down to it. When I think of Mellow Mushroom, I picture jerk chicken pizza, anthropomorphic mushrooms, sweet sauce, great beer, a crunchy vibe, thick sour dough crust, gooey cheese, sitting in the school bus at the Selwyn location, hippies at the Asheville location, tap towers at the Ballantyne location. The last thing I think of is Mellow Mushroom being cagey about the ingredients used in their pizzas. They were one of the last places I thought might be loading their pies up with processed crap. Seeing how other players in the pizza industry behave, I can’t help but wonder why Mellow Mushroom doesn’t want to share more details. It is not like Vani was asking for the recipe or ratios of ingredients.Â According to The Food Babe, she received little information from Mellow Mushroom’s corporate office other than the statement “Soybean oil is a major ingredient in our pizzas.”
I’m hoping I don’t need to cross Mellow Mushroom off the restaurant rotation as well.
Say it ain’t so, Mellow Mushroom.
Are you concerned about the ingredients in the food supply?Â Do you think Mellow Mushroom and other restaurants should provide consumers with more thorough information about the ingredients served?
Sound off in the comments section.