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me and Matthew debating “chemicals” and whole foods

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Mar 22, 2010

I have more to say about Expo West, but today I’ll write you some of a text exchange I’m having right now with my good friend Matthew F., who loves science and despises religion. I’ll leave out the unrelated parts, like about what day we’re going to take our kids skiing this week:

MF: Did you see my email about the chemical composition of apples? I always hated apples and I knew they were made of chemicals! Now that I know they’re made of chemicals, I can safely remove them from my diet! Whew!

GSG: Just because there are “chemical” compounds in natural foods (hello, EVERYTHING is on the periodic chart) doesn’t mean that eating synthetic chemicals is a good idea.

MF: You said chemicals, not SYNTHETIC chemicals. Sh**! Where’s an apple?

GSG: If you want to eat chemicals that are isolated and bathed in petroleum products and preserved in formaldehyde, go for it! (Num num.) Me, I’m eating your apple.

MF: You make is sound like all synthetic chemicals are bad and I agree that some are, but some natural things are bad for you too. There is so much hype and misconceptions about good nutrition. We have to not be married to our preferences and our “doctors” who don’t use the scientific method.

GSG: I’m not married to any acupuncturists or anything but I think I have a strong tendency based on a lot of evidence to eat whole foods instead of refined ones. The scientific method has been applied pretty well in that arena. And the same logic follows that hundreds of synergistic and perfect combinations of elements in an apple that science doesn’t even understand yet are better for me than a man-made pill with a synthetic, isolated vitamin in it.

Have you replaced God with science? What if God made perfect foods and science can’t and never will? What if science is just imperfect humans mucking around trying to make sense of complexity? Science is good but often fatally flawed. Not all science is equal. Methods are more sophisticated now but motivations are more suspect. Precious little “objective” science is left since the “scientific method” was originally conceived in all its idealism.

MF: What about apple trees that are fed water with pesticides in it, or a green smoothie girl who has the bad kind of synthetic chemicals in the plants in her smoothies?

GSG: Chemicals are everywhere. But less of them is better.

MF: Those people get colon cancer while the bastard who eats hamburgers lives to be 82.

GSG: Not usually. According to science more chemicals = more cancer, in general. Says a huge and growing pile of evidence.

MF: Synthetic ones, you mean.

GSG: That’s usually what people are referring to when they say “chemicals.” If you don’t see the diff between an apple and a can of Sprite (they’re both sugar, right?) we have a problem. My kid’s pediatrician said there was no diff.

MF: What IS the diff between sugar found in Sprite and sugar found in an apple? We need it for energy and brain function–so where does sugar in Sprite come from?

GSG: It’s massively chemically altered, concentrated, removed from other elements that make it a nutritious food. Like fiber. Like hundreds of micronutrients. Like dozens of types of enzymes.

Posted in: Food Industry, Nutrition, Whole Food

23 thoughts on “me and Matthew debating “chemicals” and whole foods”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Bummer…..I’m on a cliff hangar….where is the rest?

  2. Anonymous says:

    What did you think of Jamie Oliver last night trying to change a small town to eat better? I feel so horrible for all those children.

  3. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

    Sorry about the cliff hanger . . . unintentional! Matthew got bored of the conversation, or maybe I did, can’t remember.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What I want to know is how you can text all this!? I can barely make out “yes that would be ok” on my phone!

  5. Anonymous says:

    or he saw you posting it?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey Robyn (or anyone else), do you think it’s a good idea to continue to do Sole everymorning while pregnant? Also do you think it’s better to avoid green smoothies while sick so I’ll eat them later or push through it?!

    what else would be on your “list” of things to do to make a pregnancy wonderful!!?!??

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Having good salt and the minerals in sole is as important while you’re pregnant as at other times. Please eliminate refined salt in your diet!

  7. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

    I could probably win one of those fast texting contests! Him too.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I saw the Jamie Oliver show and I love what he is doing. I wish ever school would make those changes.

  9. Anonymous says:

    God and Science are not mutually exclusive… However God is the ORIGINAL scientist, and the best and most knowledgeable of our scientists know only the teensiest bit in comparison. God’s science is the perfect science; ours is incredibly flawed, trying to reverse engineer what He has already done for us… 2 cents…

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Well said, Donna.

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      What is sole. Here’s my information on the site:


  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn.. I’ve tried green smoothies a couple of times and they make me react- GI symptoms. Sorry to post this here but I coudln’t find a forum for questions elsewhere. Any thoughts? I have gluten intolerance and have had recurring gastritis, malabsorption issues, anemia over time. The GI issues are all getting better with diet but it’s taken a couple of years so far gluten free.

    I tried smoothies a year or so ago, loved them (apple, kale, spinach, cabbage, ginger, lemon juice)…but had horrible GI reactions- bloating and intense pain, loss of appetite. I have always lessened the amt of fruit in the smoothies as I think it’s overboard- I don’t want diabetes and am sensitive to sugars, even fruit if I overdo it. My naturopath at that point said.. eat your vegetables cooked. So I did. There used to be a lot of veggies I simply couldn’t eat.

    Nowadays I mostly can eat anything, so…recently I tried the smoothies again. By day two.. same symptoms- intense cramping pain, bloating, loss of appetite, fatigue. I stopped them- by day three things were getting back to normal, pain gone, appetite returned by the end of day three. I’m guessing this is a raw food issue vs cooked, because normally I can tolerate a fair amt of veggies (I do okay with for example a spinach salad but .. most people don’t eat the cruciferous stuff raw so I wonder if that’s it).

    Thanks for any feedback. I adore the taste of the smoothies and the concept, but it appears they are’n’t going to work for me. No, I don’t think it’s about fiber- I do eat veggies. I’m guessing it’s the raw vs cooked issue and ease of digestibility but it’s a guess.

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      People who have severe degenerative GI issues are some of the toughest people to help, unfortunately. I would put myself literally on a program of a little at a time, building up a little more, a little more, a little more, and always eat OTHER (higher protein/fat, like almonds and guacamole and legumes) foods WITH your green smoothie. Raw foods are easy to digest BUT they do often kick up “discomfort” issues like that for people with Crohn’s, IBS, etc.

      Eat cooked vegetables: good advice relative to being told to eat a bunch of animal protein or other bad advice. But don’t give up on raw vegs and fruits–see if there’s a way to ease into it.

      For some people, the diarrhea, cramps, etc. happens but lessens over a few weeks.

  11. When I started raw smoothies, I had terrible indigestion for a few days. I also have Interstitial Cystitis and that flared up, but my gut/intuition told me not to give up. I diluted my smoothies and also Drank a LOT more water…within a week, the GI symptoms were gone…!!

    Raw veggies are actually easier on our digestive systems because they come packed with their own digestive enzymes. When food is cooked, our bodies have to steal from limited enzyme banks and try to match. Often times the enzymes are not a perfect match and the result is reflux, bloating and other issues. When we start raw, our tummies are not used to it..so its an adjustment for sure…Listen to your doctor for sure…but maybe try diluting the smoothies and go with more simple greens – spinach, kale (a tiny bit of parsley helps with digestion)…add an apple and maybe a banana for sweetness.

    My issue is that I’m still not losing weight..my adrenals are fatigued..

    I am doing raw…and have lost 20 pounds in 5 months…but have another 50 to lose. The last month, I cut back on nuts and seeds, started doing green smoothies in the past ten days..and started gaining weight back. UGhh..i also started exercising and with adrenal fatigue, sometimes that can cause weight gain..anyone else have this problem an beat it?

  12. “MF: What IS the diff between sugar found in Sprite and sugar found in an apple? We need it for energy and brain function-so where does sugar in Sprite come from?”

    Was he joking when he asked this or serious? There is a HUGE difference between those two sugars.

    1 L (34 oz) Bottle Mountain Dew

    Sugars, total: 124g

    An apple will have 15 – 25 g of sugar.

    Of course, that is not the only difference…

    Fruit sugar is something known as FRUCTOSE-

    “Fructose is broken down by the body slowly and is converted into

    SUCROSE and GLYCOGEN. Fructose is often recommended for, and consumed by, people with diabetes mellitus or hypoglycemia, because it has a very low Glycemic Index (GI 23) relative to cane sugar.”

    soda sugar: Sucrose (common name: table sugar, also called saccharose) is a

    disaccharide (glucose + fructose) with the molecular formula


    “Eating a lot of table sugar at once with it’s resultant spike in the blood-sugar level can cause stress to a weak pancreas as it struggles

    to deliver enough insulin to bring down the blood-sugar to acceptable



  13. Anonymous says:

    Thanks both Robyn and Barbara for your comments!! I got myself sick again yesterday by eating a bunch of raw carrots, yay.. so it’s the raw thing for sure :-). I think the idea of using softer greens like spinach is a good one- I can eat huge spinach salads with other veggies in them and am fine. (can also eat lots of kale or cabbage for instance, steamed.. and I’m fine. But raw, I’m in so much pain I’m not really functional, it’s not just simple indigestion- actually all digestions stops lol, not a good thing).

    The doctor who told me to cook veggies (he meant steaming) is a naturopath, not an MD, so he does know holistic nutrition- I think with GI issues the raw stuff is just harder to digest. I love the taste of the smoothies and the concept, but will take your suggestions and try easing into it. (when I was first sick I couldn’t even eat cruciferous veggies no matter how prepared.. so..things are getting better over time :-).

    Thanks again,


  14. Anonymous says:

    Sole – I don’t really like it plain. Will it do the same job if i add it to my GSs?

  15. Anonymous says:

    person having problems with raw veggies—-can you pinpoint certain ones? it could be food intolerances/sensitivities. I know my DD used to be allergic to RAW carrots but not cooked because it was a chemical in the raw one (a healthy vegetable chemical of course found in it naturally) that she was reacting to.

    oh man–I LOVE my sole–the taste of the salt and water–do you think this signifies adrenal issues?

  16. Anonymous says:

    You have to perceive for yourself what is best for you.

  17. Hi Robyn

    Is there any alternative to Ziploc bags and plastic containers for food storage – I try to avoid food contact with plastic and poisonous chemicals leaking into food. Do you think nuts, seeds, and grains will survive in glass jars for a year or longer.


    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:


      Mason jars!

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