Tuesday, July 12, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

What is in a Ding Dong?

Recently I have been reading about traditional Chinese medicine. Not because I necessarily think that system is more profound or true than Western medicine, but because it represents a radically different view of health and the body.

I am not going to pretend I have reached some sort of enlightenment and deep understanding of Chinese philosophy, but it is very interesting to see how traditional Chinese medicine is very focused on the whole picture and how the parts of the whole constantly interact.

The way they view an illness is that it is an imbalance in the body that needs to be realigned to achieve health. This balancing process is very holistic and takes into account the interaction of the forces in the body and the medicine (or herbs) that is used in the healing process.

When I was thinking about this approach to health I was struck by a though about the kind of food we often eat in the west, and in particularly Ding Dongs.

If you are not familiar with Ding Dongs they are an American snack cake. It is basically a hockey puck shaped chocolate cake with a white cream filling. I have never really understood the love many people have for Ding Dongs, but I know several people who think they are divine.

Ding Dongs are not a part of traditional Chinese Medicine, I still decided to look up exactly what goes into making one. According to the internet Ding Dongs are made of these ingredients:

Sugar
Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening (contains one or more of Soybean, Cottonbean, Canola, Coconut, Palm, Kernel, Oil, Beef Fat)
Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Ferrous Sulfate (Iron),B Vitamin (niacin, Thiamine, Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)
Water
Whole Eggs
Cocoa Processed with Alkali
Corn Syrup
Invert Sugar
Whey
Maltodextrin 
Salt
Mono and Diglycerides
Soy Lecithin
Polysorbate 60
Nonfat Milk
Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate)
Egg Yolks
Calcium Caseinate
Potassium Carbonate
Cornstarch
Artificial Flavors 
Wheat Gluten 
Sodium Caseinate
Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness)

When a Chinese herbalist attempts to cure an illness with herbs he draws on a couple thousand years tradition and experience to create the perfect mix of medicinal herbs for the specific imbalance he is curing. Most of the time the right cure will be a complex combination of different plants and minerals or even animal parts that will hopefully bring the body back into balance. The effects are then studied an the dosage adjusted to fit to the individual case.

In the West we don't subscribe to this idea of balance, we work in a world that is cause and effect. Still we have a notion that different substances can affect each other and change how they work in the body. We see this in ads for medicine for example, where a particular pill should not be taken with certain other types of medication.

When I look at the list of things that goes into one Ding Dong I have to wonder: How much do we really know about how these ingredients interact in a human body. I am sure that they have been tested individually and been declared safe by some government office, but does anyone really know what a Ding Dong really   does to a body?

I have to ask myself if the experience of eating a Ding Dong is worth giving up this much control over what you put in your body. If you ask me, the answer is pretty clear: I don't eat Ding Dongs.

And just to be clear: I single out Ding Dongs here as an example, but this concept is true for almost all processed foods. By eating factory made food like this, you can not effectively control what you are putting into your body.



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