A heated discussion spiced up yesterday when the chief executive officer of the most well known brand serving Hispanic and Latino households, Goya, expressed vociferous support for the president of the United States – a man who the majority would agree launched his campaign for presidency and subsequently enacted policies and edicts by expressing and demonstrating tremendous animus towards Hispanic and immigrant communities. Understandably, feeling betrayed by the CEO’s support of the president, people who long maintained loyalty to brand Goya immediately started calling for a boycott of their products. From a general point of view, this call for a boycott is powered by political reasons. However, I am here to tell you that there needs to be a boycott of many ethnic food product companies, including Goya, for a broader reason, that crosses all political party lines – your health!

Fifteen years ago, my family decided to change our food options and that made a significant positive impact in our lives. I could still remember how I would experience pure misery after consuming Goya’s products, amongst others. Within thirty minutes of consuming foods that especially included their seasonings or seasoned products, I was breaking out in cold sweats, throwing up, experiencing crazy headaches, changes in vision and diarrhea. There was even a night when I had to pullover on a freeway because of the discomfort and the need to throw up.

The big change in my health, including an opportunity to finally start to once again enjoy food without fear, happened when I started to become more vigilant about the food ingredients and seasonings present on my plate. Based on what my family experienced, I compiled five compelling reasons for why you should demand that Goya and other food companies raise the bar by improving the quality of their ingredients and packaging! Until then, we need to boycott by refusing to include them in our kitchens, on our dining tables or at our favorite restaurants. The ‘convenience’ factor that they promote in their ads for their packaged foods is nothing but a gimmick and it’s no time saver when it comes to your life and health 

Goya’s products contain a number of synthetic ingredients which are unhealthy for our bodies

Synthetic chemicals imitate the natural chemical structure of compounds to produce a substance with enhanced characteristics. Food manufacturers may prefer using these synthetic chemicals because they can be mass produced. However, synthetic chemicals are generally more toxic than their natural counterparts. Goya’s adobo and other packaged seasonings have a lot of artificial additives that our bodies do not agree with. In particular, one is monosodium glutamate (MSG) content, along with a variety of soy-based fluffers, which can cause changes in your gastric acid secretion, bloating, neurological symptoms, fluid shifts and hormonal changes which result in tremendous discomfort. When our family decided to totally cut this out from our diet, we experienced an immediate ease with eating. We no longer had to pregame a meal with tums, other antacids or anti-nausea/anti-vomiting medications. Moreover, we could function after a meal! I no longer had to plan for a nap or decreased ability to be productive for hours after a meal… a true transformation! 

Goya’s food packaging may contain endocrine disruptors

No official study clarifies that food packaging contents of Goya are free of known endocrine disruptors such as Bisphenol-A (BPA). Such unwanted chemicals, when absorbed by the body, can cause an increase or decrease in hormonal levels affecting one’s fertility and immune system function. They may even prime how and when our young ones enter puberty. As a fertility specialist, this is an important matter of concern to me because these health problems could have been avoided when we change our unhealthy options. In fact, a lot of research studies have reported that exposure to BPA affects the brain and reproductive organs of infants and young children. 

The expensive price is not worth the low quality ingredients

We often associate health with wealth but we become victims of advertising strategies that promote the “healthier” option. Because Goya products are amongst the Hispanic and Caribbean communities’ staple food, there is a great likelihood that consumption of these products contributes to the high rates of chronic non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease which are seen in these communities. The fact that their products are expensive relative to their poor ingredient quality convinced our family to stop buying and eating from this brand and others! While I am not calling for a shut down of these companies, I am calling for a moment of reckoning, where the consumers remind them of their social responsibility to the communities who have made them rich! 

Food tastes better with natural home-based seasoning

If we want to experience better food taste, switching to home-based seasonings from fresh plants, peppers, rhizomes and herbs is the best option. Aside from that, you know exactly what it is that you have included and you control the amount of seasoning present in your food. After our family decided to stop consuming goya’s adobo, we learned to experience and create  true adobo flavors achieved by using the natural and home-based seasoning including use of colorful natural ingredients like annatto, saffron, turmeric and culantro. 

No seasoning mix matches the authenticity of fresh ingredients

The flavor present in fresh ingredients outmatches any store-bought seasoning on any day! If you have the resources, you can even make your own seasoning. Also, it helps you live a better life when you know what’s in your food. The healthy option involves you knowing the contents of the food you put inside your body. 

If you are supporting the #Goyaway boycott movement because of political reasons, I encourage you to go one step further and look into why Goya and many other “ethnic food” manufacturers need more transparency in and elimination of the chemicals that they use within their products. I believe it is time for all of us to take the wheel of social responsibility into action. Time to say, enough with the peddling of these subpar ingredients and disease causing foods to vulnerable communities who choose these products because they remind them of their home countries or of their grandmothers’ cooking. It’s time to demand quality ingredients which deliver good results to their overall health and wellness. In a world where information becomes readily available, we have to raise the bar of accountability that hinges more on the common good rather than just profit.