This post is dedicated to my friend, Alnoor, and all of you who are trying against what seems like impossible odds to stand tall against the various food industries to make a better life for yourselves and your families. Attempting to avoid genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics, force-feeding and other questionable profit-generating methods used in the farming industry, as well as trying to use organically-produced ingredients in your meal preparation and avoiding ingredients with more than five syllables can all seem hopeless, not only to the newly-converted, but to seasoned “veterans of the healthy-living population”… Then… curveball!

What group do you fall into? Please comment to let me know.  I’m among the latter group just mentioned and I got the wind sucked out of my sails so suddenly, I’m still reeling from the impact! Are you all nodding in agreement at my most recent experience, or perhaps it is one you’ve already had it yourselves? Have you had a mystery ingredient experience? Sign up to this blog and tell us about it.

Buried TREASURE?  I’m reading the ingredient list on a carton of ice cream, your typical Maritimes-produced brand, seeing all of the usual foodstuffs. Cream, sugar, eggs… then, BAM… carboxymethyl cellulose!! What the? I look again and spell it slowly in my head …C A R B O X Y M E T H Y L   C E L L U L O S E.. I’ve never used that in my ice cream! It has more than five syllables, so, therefore, falls under the category of “shouldn’t go into my body. I decide to research.

I don’t have a handy-dandy set of encyclopedias (for you younger readers… that’s a set of books used for old-school researching.) I, do, however, have the World Wide Web. I get a good hit right away. Carbooxymethyl cellulose is a cellulose derivative, commonly used as a thickening agent and sometimes used in products that relieve dry eyes, among other things… Yep, I can see the connection, there!

Science brings it home  If that wasn’t enough science for you, get this… Carboxymethyl cellulose (aka CMC) is, in fact, the sodium… (Oh, heck. There’s no layman’s language for it). The description does include its use in ice cream, and as an emulsifier in toothpaste, personal lubricants and laxatives.  Although it is considered a chemical, it is also generally considered non toxic and hypoallergenic! (Good to know!) So, I guess for an ingredient with more than five syllables, it isn’t that bad. For those of us on a journey toward better health, this carboxymethyl cellulose is one of those items unnecessary to our bodies and still a relative “unknown” by way of its long-term effects on our well being. I wonder if it is the off-putting flavour I detect when eating soft ice cream?

What, then, to do with carboxymethyl cellulose? For those of us standing tall for the betterment of our health. This biggy we’ll not beat anytime soon, but you do agree you don’t have to join ‘em? The occasional ice cream surely can’t hurt… it’s just a part of the journey, right? That voice in my head is saying, “Wait! You have to fight ‘em. If you don’t, who will? A consideration for another day, I suppose.


 Upon further research, and finding that carboxymethyl cellulose is produced under the ingredient name “zanthan gum”, I discover I have used carboxymethyl cellulose in the past.  I’ve used it to make gravy during a  “low-carb” diet. I found it caused clumpy-like thickening, rather than the smooth effect you want when making gravy.


Sandra M. Meers


About sandrastandingtall

I was the little, curly-haired redhead who dreamed of a pair of red shoes… shiny, red, patent leather slip-ons with a small black heel and a gleaming gold buckle on top. The shoes caught my eye from the window of the shoe store our family frequented and were a huge departure from the requisite, dull, ugly, brown, lace-up Bobby Browns my sister and I were made to wear because “they are good for your feet”. I finally won the red shoes battle which would became a sort-of metaphor for the many battles I would fight in my life. The battle to find a job after graduating high school in an over-crowded employment market led me to study for, and receive, my Real Estate license, resulting in a sponsorship and job with a local broker. Following three years of University, the job market had improved little. However, a close friend and editor saw some talent in my writing and offered me a position with her newspaper, as junior reporter, which I parlayed into ad sales and promotion writing and learning every aspect of the pre- desktop publishing industry. The twists and turns of young adult life did not see me married with eight children, living a “back-to-the-earth” life in Canada’s North as I had anticipated in the many years previous. Instead, I found myself following my mentor’s lead, making a career in the community newspaper industry, taking on the Editorship of two of the same company’s small-town papers. That brings my life to present-day, living a quiet life in a small, rural farming community on Canada’s Atlantic coast, playing Grandmother to three amazing little boys, having battled a severe stroke which ended concurrent careers as an Election Returning officer, and as a Customer Service Rep for a large communications company. That battle, close to complete, has lead me back to my first love – writing.
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  1. 9ballbaby says:

    awesomely well written!!

    • Thank you Sue for your comments. I encourage comments and suggestions, so we can make this a somewhat interactive blog! We can all learn from each other’s views and experiences.

  2. Alnoor says:

    Thank you Sandra for dedicating this post to me. It is wonderfully written!

    I fall in between the groups. I am not a veteran as I was only converted 8 years ago when I was diagnosed with Secondary Progressive MS. I still make errors and then ,of course, pay the price.
    With a little effort, I became gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and chemical free. I changed my clothing, household cleaning products and my personal hygiene producs.
    I have been attack and relapse free thanks, to people like you who continue to inform and educate us on how ‘poisoned’ we really are.

    It baffles me how the governments even allow additives in our foods, personal hygiene products, water and even clothing. Almost everything in our lives today is poisonous.
    The same government then spends trillions on cures!!
    It often seems like the Government, the Medical Profession, the Food Corporations and of course the Big Pharma are all in cahoots to poison us and then pretend to care for us.
    We the consumers trust that our governments have our best interests. They don’t!

    Thank you for your efforts in the fight against the toxicity in our lives.

    I have actually used Xanthan Gum now and then. For some reason, I switched to Guar Gum.

    My experience was with discovering hidden additives was ‘Modified Food Starch”. I was shocked to find out how many foods contain this ingredient, even organic sausages!

    All this to make the food look better, taste better and last longer on the shelves.
    In their “greed”, they have scarificed human lives

    Keep up the Great Work Sandra, I look forward to your articles!

  3. Thank you, Alnoor, for your comments. After 8 years of diet modification, I, personally, would consider you a veteran. As you allude, it’s truly unfortunate we have to be so careful. You and others may seem it odd that I make this next reference a bit odd… At the beginning of The Dr. Robert Atkins’ New Diet revolution he makes a very definitive and succinct argument for why the food industry has been permitted to ride roughshod over us, While his arguments have little, if nothing, to do with the fact that he dropped dead on a New York sidewalk of a heart attack. If you only borrow the book from the library, his arguments at the beginning of the book are certainly worth the read. They may anger some. For others they will make some things Oh so clear!
    Alnoor! Your efforts have not gone unrewarded. You appear to be be conquering the battle you’ve been given. Keep it up! Maybe WE can make the difference for the health of coming generations.
    Stand Tall&Stay Strong

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