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Toxins vs. Tradition – What Will Win On Your Thanksgiving Table?

Thanksgiving is by far one of my favorite holidays – there is something so special about the sense of community, thankfulness, family tradition, and overall togetherness it brings each year.

It’s also a perfect day to teach and influence your family to eat less processed food and make better choices at the grocery store. I know it’s tricky messing with handed down time honored traditions but using canned mushroom soup that is full of GMOs and MSG to make grandmother’s green bean casserole recipe just has to stop.

42% of us will be obese by 2030, our children are expected to have a shorter life span than us and 41% of us are going to inevitably get cancer. This doesn’t have to happen. We can alter this trajectory if we spread as much information about the chemicals in food as possible – specifically the chemicals that can be directly linked to obesity and cancer and that are slowly poisoning us and making us suffer as a society.

This is why I think it is absolutely critical to detail out the ingredients in popular holiday meal products that are on sale and lining conventional grocery stores all over the country right now.


Let’s talk turkey…. choosing a conventional turkey is a bad idea because it’s pumped full of preservatives, natural flavors and antibiotics – it also could be raised with a very controversial drug that has been banned in 160 countries.

Manufactured natural flavor that is often found in conventional turkey, processed foods and other meat products is contributing to what David Kessler (former head of the FDA) calls a “food carnival” in your mouth. This makes it difficult to stop eating or drinking because the flavors they have synthesized trick your mind into wanting more and more. Butterball and other food companies use this natural flavoring to just give you the best 1 millionth part of the taste so we only want more of that product, which in turns fills their pockets. When companies use manufactured flavor, they literally are “hijacking” your taste buds one-by-one.

Natural flavor, unfortunately, is not the worst consequence of choosing a conventional turkey – 83% of farms that raise turkeys in the United States likely use antibiotics in the feed to make the turkey grow bigger and prevent them from getting sick in terrible living conditions. When I met General Wesley Clark who is a retired general from the US Army – he expressed to me that the use of antibiotics in the food supply concerned him the most out of any food related issue and we as a nation needed to address the threat of antibiotic resistant superbugs. Factory farms use 80% of the nations antibiotics and it is being leached into our soil, water and air – we are being exposed to them at an alarming rate causing anti-biotic resistant infections that should worry all of us, not just the General.

Turkey Tip: Order a turkey in advance that hasn’t been fed antibiotics from your local farmers market or natural grocery store. There are some mail order options available if you can’t find one near you. Check all the ingredients in the turkey before you buy. 


The amount of ingredients in popular stuffing brands like “Pepperidge Farm” and “Kraft’s Stove top” should alone trigger an alarm signal in your brain. They both are made with cheap white flour, transfat, nasty preservatives and high fructose corn syrup, a.k.a. “HFCS”. Studies show HFCS causes significantly more weight gain in people when compared to the consumption of conventional sugar and is linked to the increase in obesity.

Stuffing Tip: Try these 2 AMAZING homemade versions of stuffing instead – Cornbread and Raw (yes – one recipe is completely raw and seriously delicious!).


Sodium Bisulfite and many of the other preservatives that are found in Betty Crocker’s Creamy Butter Potatoes, Hungry Jack’s Mashed Potatoes are preservatives that no one should be consuming. BHA for example, is linked to cancer, fertility issues and kidney problems and is considered a carcinogen by U.S. Health and Human Services, yet the FDA still allows it in our food.

Mash Potato Tip – Try this homemade recipe for mash potatoes that “sneaks” in a vegetable serving using cauliflower from Vanessa at The Chic Life.


The amount of Monosodium Glutamate “MSG” that can end up in your food is not regulated by the FDA and soup manufacturers like Campbell’s know this. When rats were given MSG laden food they ate more of it, linking this “flavor enhancer” to obesity. MSG is also an excitotoxin that, in some cases, can excite brain cells to death and cause adverse reactions in some people including “skin rashes, itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, migraine headaches, asthma, heart irregularities, depression and even seizures.”  This list of hidden MSG names is helpful in understanding the various names for MSG so you can look for it on the label and avoid it.

Green Bean Casserole Tip: Try this homemade version of condensed mushroom soup by Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food to make your casserole MSG free.


Trans fats are commonly found in many of the foods listed here – like in the Jiffy Corn Bread and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. Trans fat has been shown to be deadly even in small amounts. “A 40-calorie-per-day increase in trans fat can create a 23% higher risk of heart disease.” 40 calories is a mere 2% of a typical 2000 calorie per day diet – and could easily be the amount of trans fat found in many of these products. Can you imagine how much transfat you would be consuming eating all these products in one day at one meal and then the left overs for days later? Sheesh!

Corn Bread Tip: Start from scratch – get 100% organic corn meal to avoid GMOs and try my organic vegan corn bread recipe here instead.

I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw there was artificial food coloring in Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, Pie Crust and Marshmallows! The most widely used dyes are contaminated with known carcinogens, linked to cancer and known to cause hyperactivity in children.  Also please note the “caramel coloring” found in McCormick’s gravy mix that sounds natural, is anything but! Caramel color is often manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure, which creates carcinogenic compounds that are also linked to cancer.


All of these popular holiday products have genetically modified organisms a.k.a. “GMOs.” Yes, every single one of them! GMOs can even be hidden in the corn/soy feed given to the Butterball conventional turkeys or the citric acid used in Pillsbury Pie Crust. GMO’s are in 80-90% of processed food and you should make it a point to eliminate them entirely from your kitchen. No long term human health studies have been conducted, however many of the animals studies conducted have produced horrifying results. Mass consumption of GMOs pose a serious risk to our health because they have not undergone mandatory safety assessments – a risk I believe no one should be taking.

Dessert Tips:  Try this decadent Pumpkin Pie recipe made with coconut milk and my Pumpkin Ice Cream Cake recipe here. Instead of marshmallows on top of sweet potato casserole – try candied pecans and/or homemade meringue. Both “Truwhip” and “So Delicious” have some products you can try to replace chemical filled Cool Whip – however it is still very processed, so I recommend making homemade coconut whipped cream instead.

A few closing thoughts…

If you are going to cook – please avoid all these products and ingredients in your recipes – it’s not too late to take back items you may have already purchased. Check the ingredients on all the products that you buy – especially for hidden GMOs that can be in just about everything and in every store – even Whole Foods.

If you are going to someone’s house for thanksgiving – share this information with them. I know the thought of this may initially seem rude – but so is sitting back and watching the food industry continue to poison us, our friends and our families. Your power and influence is greater than you think – please use it to spread the word, it’s the only way we are going to end the corruption of our food supply.

Also, consider boycotting these brands and other brands that continue to use these harmful ingredients all together – I have personally done so and boy does it feel good!

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Your Family,




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126 responses to “Toxins vs. Tradition – What Will Win On Your Thanksgiving Table?

  1. Got Turkeys named Thanksgiving and Christmas in pen in back yard covered there had some extra corn bread from beans in ham in freezer hope its ok for dressing then make rest from scratch as I have been for few years now , but raising the birds was a new experience , but have chickens and ducks too and now some goats gonna get very organic around this farm that use to have just horses, nope horses dont mind the company

    1. Thought I was the only one that named my turkeys that.. only we had a ‘Sunday’ in the back yard, too.

  2. My family used to be guilty of these foods for the holidays too. Not anymore…I’ve got yummy plans this year. Thanks for sharing this as I will definitely be sharing this on my blog The Organic Dietitian.

  3. Very Good Article! Unfortunately, my co-workers will be eating something similar, they are incorrigible and don’t seem to care; I think most Americans are too set in their ways and too lazy to change. But there are still a few of us who make the extra effort to get educated(like reading Vani’s articles) and actually make a change for the better.

    1. Great article! It can be so disheartening to see many that just don’t seem to care. Keep spreading the information. You never know when you might be the messenger that reached out and made a difference. As it has been said,”when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. Baby steps, baby steps.

  4. So sad to see my favorites were on the hit list… I have been using Trader Joes cornbread stuffing mix for the last couple of years, is this one on the hit list as well? I shop Whole Foods or Sprouts for organic foods to try and keep things healthy, including the broth and gravy. Will scout this year for alternative jellied cranberry …oceanspray has always tasted better.. have tried alternatives so will have to keep on looking. Thanks for all your information! I pass it along to friends and family!

  5. Hey Vani, can you stuff the turkey with the raw stuffing to heat it? Thanks for the recipes and for educating the public! You rock!

  6. Thank you for posting this. I made pumpkin pie for my teenage boys this weekend and planned on buying ready made crust, well, when I read the ingredients on different packages/brands, i decided to make my own. Its truly disgusting to think that for many years I have been feeding my kids these chemicals.

  7. I started to can my foods from organic produce from store or home grown. It took me a few years to do a complete transition to all healthy real foods. But many In the family were real reluctant. So I figured doing it slowly would be the way to go. Now they prefer the taste of real food over the other stuff. Even when we go on vacation we try our hardest to stay away from mc donalds. It taste horrible and it makes us sick. Even the things I did like before taste horrible to me now. I have always been in to eating healthy but found it hard with a mother who shopped in the microwave section and others almost like her. Plus I just didn’t have the knowledge like I do now. I am wondering for people like me who can not raise our own animals yet. Where do we find a turkey?

    1. Amee, soy , canola oil, and corn are the three most Products that are GMO. I think almost 80%. Unless it’s organic , they are likely GMO. This is why she is pointing out soy as it’s not organic and likely GMO.

    2. Non-GMO soy is trouble. Unfermented soy is not a food for humans. Try miso or tempe if you want soy. In New Zealand soy is not fed to children under 12 years (warnings on packages like soy milk) because of the high estrogenic activity.

      1. Soy suppresses thyroid function which causes weight gain,depression,constipation among many other things!

  8. Thanksgiving in the typical American household is a recipe for disaster-a true showcase for Big Agra’s toxins!

  9. Unfortunately the majority of Americans are looking for the cheapest way to have the holiday. They don’t care to buy that organic Turkey for 3.99 lb. They want the cheap .50 lb bird that has been fed antibiotics.

    But, hey for all we know, this grand chemical experiment is population control.

  10. I appreciate your blogs so much…I read them everyday and share with Family and Friends..I just wish that eating organic and gmo free “all” the time didn’t cost me a small fortune! Thats the part that makes this hard…I have a family of 5 and as it is now buying the healthiest of products I spend an average of over $250/wk if not more on groceries….if I bought everything “organic” we would literally be in the poor house….we will keep on changing our diets in every way we can, but unfortunately with a large family quantity wins over quality…=(

      1. So I noticed a similar comment on another blog linking to the same website. Wondering if the corps are doing damage control to try and keep the masses in tow? Cause new resreach is showing anything but good news about Gmos. This Tara person might want to do some updated resreach.

      2. Tara, If GMOs Are So Great, Why Are Companies Spending Millions So We Don’t Know What’s In Our Food???

      3. All I have to say to people like you, Tara, is continue eating your GMOs, and drinking your fluoridated tap water, but don’t come asking ME to donate to cancer research when it’s YOUR turn at the chemo I.V.!

      4. I read the PBS article and while I appreciate publicly financed media, the article did not really argue your point well.

  11. For the first time ever, we are having an entirely organic Thanksgiving this year! Getting so much info from your site, so thank you! The one thing I am having trouble with is black olives. We usually use canned black olives and my kids and myself all love them. But I can’t really find them organic, the ones I found were actually purple and tasted just like green olives. So I was researching olives and this is what I found: Olives are harvested in the green to purple stage. Canned black olives may contain chemicals (usually ferrous sulfate) that turn them black artificially. So 2 points, #1. All olives come from the same tree. Green ones are picked before they are ripe and then brined. Purple ones are picked when they are ripe and then brined. #2. Black olives like I eat (and love) are only black because they are poisoned. Lol. Ugh!! How can I ever eat them again?!?! And that’s all besides the BPA cans that the black olives are canned in!!! What kind of olives do you use?

  12. Tara,
    If GMOs are so safe and eating organic is ridiculous , then why are GMOs banned in many countries? If GMOs are the answer then why did Monsanto, Coke, Pepsi and other food companies spend so much money to defeat the GMO labeling propositions in California and Washington? You would think that they would encourage GMO labeling, right? The big food producers seems to be desperate to hide the fact that GMOs are in 80% of the processed food in the United States. I believe you are a shill.

    1. Exactly, and WHY do they include a clause in their sales contracts that their products are not to used for independent research without the prior consent of Monsatan? If they have such faith in their products they wouldn’t have a problem with people sending their items to an independent lab to study it’s safety claims. Also, why do they use dirty contamination tactics to allow themselves to sue small farms “to death”? Yeah, such trustworthy companies…I think NOT!

  13. To everyone crying about “credible sources’:

    It’s pretty difficult to find good sources when most of the studies are funded by Big Agra and other conglomerate companies.

  14. What do you think when they try to put “Organic Caramel Coloring” on labels? What does that even mean?

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  16. Just ordered a turkey from my local farmers market at $11 per pound. I believe it is worth it, but what about all the low income people who can barely afford a turkey? Sad that our lawmakers do not look out for us and allow our food to poison us. Shame!

    1. This is exactly the problem… I am making green bean casserole with cream of mushroom by campells and French’s fried onions because they cost $0.89 and that’s what I can afford… I can’t afford an $11.00 per pound Turkey, so I’m a bad mother?

      1. It has nothing to do eith being a bad mother. You are doing the best you can do. Just take the time to read the lans and know what’s in the food that your feeding to your children. That is exactly where the big companies have people over a barrel. The people it hurts the most are the ones who can’t afford organic. One small step at a time. You can do it for yourself and your family.

  17. What is an alternative to cream of chicken and cream of celery soup? We use this in our cornbread dressing.

  18. Hi Vani,
    I love reading your posts and am so happy to be informed about the foods that are harmful for us. I would really like to see more posts that promote the healthier alternative food choices as boldly as the unhealthy ones.
    Thank you

  19. For the people spending 11.oo a lb. for an organic turkey. Check Craigslist. Family farms are much less. I am getting an organic free range grass fed in NY state for 5.00 lb. Just get a smaller turkey and eat more vegetables. We eat too much anyway. other farms offering organically fed but not pastured turkeys are about 3.00 lb in MA. Google search “free range turkeys or pasture raised turkeys”

  20. Or…. Instead of asking family/friends to change their whole menu and risk being considered rude, why not offer to make a dish or two, to help take some of the work load off of them and then you can use whatever ingredients you like and not only is no one offended but you’ve helped make things easier for them.

  21. We are roasting our organic turkey in a fire pit, slathered with real butter and fresh herbs. I spent today making cheesecakes, pumpkin and strawberry from scratch, with coconut milk caramel sauce, and homemade dark chocolate ganache. Also roasted bell peppers and squash in the oven and puree’d it into a beautiful fall soup. I will do garlic mushrooms and roasted marscapone mashed potatoes in the morning. Whether or not my relatives love what I bring as much as I do, I will be able to have options without stressing over what is in the things that everyone else brought. It will be amazing. And I will leave thanskgiving dinner with a healthy bloodsugar level, a happy tummy, and no guilt at all. Real food is beautiful.

  22. I made an all organic, vegan thanksgiving dinner. Green beans with mushroom sauce, organic onion rings (no chemicals!)and toasted pecans, baked delicotta squash with maple syrup/cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg, mashed potatoes made with nut milk, brussell sprouts sauteed in coconut oil and garlic, and lentil/bean loaf with mushroom gravy. Topped off with pumpkin pie made with organic tofu and coconut milk and coconut whipped cream. Better than any conventional thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had, and that’s a lot since I’m 62 years old!

  23. We always use organic sugar, maple syrup or honey to sweeten things. A friend recently tried to convince me that non GMO fructose was a good thing. Please clarify what this is and whether its really an ok sweetener.

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