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Be smart: do your research

Have you ever wondered what exactly is in the food you eat? Or what comprises those household cleaners your mom uses? What about the shampoo you shower with or the toothpaste you use every morning?
The response to these questions I would mostly likely assume to be a flat-out no. Most of my friends, including myself, often times don’t care as long as the food we eat tastes delicious, mom does the cleaning and our hair and breath smell good.
Well, I had a revolutionary change in thought while twittering one afternoon.
I’m an avid follower of The Onion, a fake news organization that features many satirical articles, and I happened to come across a spoof they did on Taco Bell entitled, “Taco Bell’s New Green Menu Takes No Ingredients From Nature.”
At first I got a laugh from the outrageous and ridiculous claims they made about the restaurant’s food. I then e-mailed the story to several of my friends who would more than willingly give an arm and a leg for a cheesy double beef burrito. Hey, if I found it hilarious they should too … wrong.
My inbox soon filled up with an endless supply of hate mail reiterating the fact the The Onion isn’t a real news source. Come on guys, learn how to take a joke! That’s when the tiny lawyer in me ready to prove everyone wrong came alive. I began to do some of my own research and stunningly, The Onion wasn’t all that off.
Being a proud native of Gainesville, Ga., Chicken Capital of the World, I decided to check out the ingredients in its chicken first. Among what seemed like normal ingredients, such as garlic powder, chili pepper and paprika, were two much unexpected ingredients – ammonium and silicon dioxide.
Ammonium can be found in many things from animal waste to more than 83 percent of fertilizers, according to Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry.
Although, ammonium takes part in balancing the bases and acids in many mammals, the reality is it’s a toxic substance to humans. Silicon dioxide, which is the principal component in most types of glasses and concretes, is just as harmful, causing fatigue, chronic headaches, abdominal pain, etc.
Now those so-called ingredients are just a few found in its food products otherwise known as preservatives.
Take for example:  dimethylpolysiloxane, sodium metabisulfite, tertiary butylhydroquinone, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, disodium inosinate, butylated hydroxytoluene and tert-butylhydroquinone. This is no lie. In fact, Taco Bell lists all ingredients on their Web site under their nutrition drop-down menu.
It’s difficult to pronounce the substances listed above, much less try to explain what they are right off the bat.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bash Taco Bell. It isn’t the only fast food restaurant to use preservatives and now-a-days, they are found in almost everything we purchase whether it’s food or not.
My only intention is to point out the truth. The average person could not tell you what’s in all the daily products he or she consumes and uses. This isn’t an expectation I have for anyone, but I would like to believe if people were more aware of what they intake they would make better, healthier choices.
Sure, what’s so wrong about having dinner at McDonalds every once in a while? But what does that amount to within a lifetime?
I’ll tell you – high blood pressure and an increased risk for heart disease. This isn’t rocket science, it’s downright common sense. So as Dinky the Taco Bell chihuahua likes to say, “Drop the chalupa” and be a little less naive – read the nutrition facts label.
Karina Garcia is a sophomore journalism and political science major from Gainesville, Ga. She is the Scout assistant copy editor.
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