Are There Harmful Ingredients Lurking In Your Spice Cabinet?

When I fall in love with a product, I really fall in love. But before I tell you about this amazing little spice company I found, I thought it would be important to talk about how to buy spices in the first place – what’s good, what’s bad and are there harmful ingredients lurking in your spice cabinet?

Spices have incredible medicinal properties including curbing hunger (cayenne), boosting metabolism (paprika), killing cancer cells (turmeric) and fighting inflammation (cinnamon), but these benefits are more likely to be realized if the spices are purchased and consumed correctly. 

Conventional Spices Contain Harmful Ingredients

There are many reasons for adding spices to food, including enhancing flavor, boosting nutritional value, and also preserving freshness.  Unfortunately, when we buy conventional spices, they often contain more negative qualities than positive. Like conventional food found in supermarkets, many of the spices we find on the shelves are treated with chemicals, contain GMOs and are irradiated. Virtually all conventional spices sold in the United States are fumigated [sterilized] with hazardous chemicals that are banned in Europe.

Conventional Spices

What is Irradiation?

Food irradiation is the process of using radiation to kill bacteria and other contaminants. But while radiation is used to reduce bacteria in the spices we are consuming, the finished product has decreased levels of vitamins and natural enzymes. Irradiation changes the chemical composition of a spice, potentially creating toxic, carcinogenic by-products in the food and increasing our exposure to free radicals. Free radicals cause aging and disease – something we want to avoid at all costs!

How To Buy Spices Safely

With that said, it’s extremely important to fill our pantries with spices that promote health, rather than take away from it.  Below are strategies for buying spices to make flavorful dishes, promote health and limit your exposure to hidden toxins.

  1. Always buy organic spices – not only will they not have toxic pesticides, but they also will not be irradiated. Organic spices cannot have genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs), artificial colors, preservatives, and other synthetic anti-caking agents. (Some of my favorite spice companies include - Simply OrganicFrontier, and various store-brands that are organic.)
  2. Buy spices from the bulk bin to get the most bang for your buck. Buying a small amount ensures the spices will be used in an appropriate amount of time. 
  3. Check the expiration date. Spices, unlike wine, do not get better with age. Make sure you clean out your pantry often to avoid using expired spices. With age, spices lose their powerful benefits.
  4. Replace conventional spices as soon as possible. If your spice cabinet is full of conventional spices, start to buy organic spices for each new recipe you make week after week, eventually you’ll have a whole new assortment of organic spices to choose from. 

Red Ape Cinnamon Gifts & 15% off Discount 

Ok, now that you know how I buy spices, I have to share my new love! I found this gem at Natural Products Expo East at a special preview event and immediately fell head over heals. The cute ape on the package of Red Ape Cinnamon drew me in at first, but the taste of this cinnamon totally knocked my socks off. It was irresistible and like I had never really tasted cinnamon before – it was that flavorful, powerful and just wonderful. So fresh and so good. Honestly, it was light years beyond what I thought cinnamon tasted like in previous encounters.


After speaking with the owner of the company, a sweet man named Dan, I continued to be blown away. I found out that Red Ape Cinnamon is organic certified, non-GMO and also gives 5% of their profits to protect orangutans and their habitat. Below are the baby orangutans Red Ape is planning to adopt (my heart is melting… oh the cuteness!). 

Choose An Ape

Since visiting the show, I have been a fanatic about this cinnamon (I’ve already gone through 2 jars!), it goes on top of my nut milk lattes every single morning and in all of my baking.  I love how my sprinkle every morning supports a company that gives back to the community too. Every jar and box is packaged by the Pearl Buck center which provides work and vocational training to adults with developmental disabilities. 

Last week, I followed up with Dan to see if I could get the Food Babe Army a discount to try this stuff because everyone should be eating this cinnamon! Thankfully, he was excited to offer 15% off to all of you and free shipping for purchases over $50 with the code “FOODBABE”.

15% off anything in the Red Ape Cinnamon Store – here with code “FOODBABE” 

Red Ape sells three different kinds of cinnamons:
Organic Ground Cinnamon (My all-around favorite – I use it on lattes)
Organic Rasta Shake (Awesome on pasta, roasted veggies, etc.)
Organic Cinnamon Sugar (Perfect for toast, to sprinkle onto oatmeal, in baking granola, etc)
My favorite purchase on their store is these cute little boxes of all three cinnamons as hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. I’ve gotten them for everyone I know this season (shhh! don’t tell anyone). It makes me so happy to support this company and spread the word of their mission. Don’t you wish more companies conducted business like Red Ape? 
Red Ape Gift Package
If you know someone who is still using conventional spices or could use a spice cabinet spruce up, please share this post and discount with them. They will hopefully love you for it.
Spreading good cheer, 
Food Babe
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102 Responses to “Are There Harmful Ingredients Lurking In Your Spice Cabinet?”

  1. Josh

    Did you know that there are two types of cinnamon? a good type and a bad type?
    Check out this article –

    you should check to see if your monkey cinnamon is cassia (bad) or ceylon (good).

  2. Jake Taylor

    I prefer my spices freshly ground. I can leave them in my cupboard without worrying about them going stale in 6 weeks. They’re non-irradiated so I know I’m getting the health benefits. And they taste 1000 times better. I mean I fresh grind my coffee. Why would I treat my spices any differently. Buy whole spices. Repurpose an old coffee Grinder. And for light use by ready to go grinders from the folks at Cape Herb & Spice (there are a couple other brands as well, but I’ve never used them)..

  3. Jamie

    I would like to know FoodBabe’s opinion on Wildtree products. I have been using these organic, preservative free products for cooking lately, and the girl i buy it from wants me to become a rep for them , but I follow FoodBabe and do not want to put my name on something that is not good for our bodies. Has she ever looked into Wildtree?

    Thank You

  4. alison

    Thanks Food Babe! I will be purchasing this cinnamon today at my local market! I’m SO happy they have it!! YAY!!

  5. cindy millis

    So, we have a problem here….the fact that Frontier, which is the same company as Simply Organic, has China as their source. I have read that conditions are deplorable in China, with polluted water as well as the air and that human waste is considered organic! So, how can you feel comfortable consuming this brand of spices?

    I would really like to know, as I have been using these same brands myself and have discovered just TODAY, the source of being grown and manufactured in China! I am kind of freaked out right now and wanting to find an organic source in the US.


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