The proliferation of petroleum oil in our society has no better example than its silent insertion into the foods we ingest on a regular basis. Oil in food is usually made from animal or vegetable fats, but it can be made from petroleum as well. However, it will not be labeled as such. Since no one wants to see ‘petroleum’ listed as an ingredient in their food, companies usually list it as ‘mineral oil’. Be on the lookout for packaged baked goods that use mineral oil to extend their shelf lives.
Petroleum products can even be disguised as paraffin wax in chocolate, but they are not even required to be listed as such! They can fall under the category of ‘other flavors’. Companies like Hershey’s are very reluctant to reveal what goes into their chocolate, but many food scientists will tell you that paraffin wax is a likely ingredient. If, like me, you want to keep chocolate as the bedrock of your food pyramid, you are better off purchasing higher quality chocolates that don’t use wax-based fillers (your taste buds will thank you as well).
One last tip, wash your fruits and vegetables before you consume them! Petroleum products are sometimes used to coat produce so that they stay shiny and fresh-looking longer. Buy produce from your local farmer’s market to ensure that no petroleum products are used in the preservation of your food.