Blogsam and Jetsam

Flotsam is the part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on the water. Jetsam is cargo or parts of a ship that are deliberately thrown overboard, as to lighten the ship in an emergency, and that subsequently either sinks or is washed ashore. This is my personal blog version of the above. Loot freely.

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Location: The Hinterlands, Upstate NY

I'm annoyed that the world is going crazier faster than it used to be. But it's interesting to watch.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Food Thoughts

Okay, it's time to drag out the old tired "modified food starch is bad" soapbox yet again. Over the weekend I made nice healthy chicken salad for lunch and discovered there was modified food starch in the damned canned chicken. Ferpetesake do we really need to make everything tastier? Apparently we do...it's in many salsas now, just within the past year. SALSA! Since when has a thickener of any kind been part of a freakin' salsa recipe?!

You can't trust "organic" either, not even that aging-well looker Paul Newman. A while back I thought I'd check out the "Newman-Os" in the organic food section thinking that would be ONE sweet baked product not entirely loaded with the stuff. Looked at the label and noticed "organic wheat" "organic cocoa" "organic cane sugar" etc...got tired of reading "organic" and just skimmed for "modified" and for "starch" or "gluten" all of which were absent. Threw cookies in cart, fed cookies to family, ate leftover cookies and found the filling yummy. Too yummy in that "umame" (Japanese for "mouth feel" or "tasty") way all the loaded-with-additives products are. Read the label again more closely and buried within all the "organic this" and "organic that" was a plain old "powdered sugar." NOT "organic powdered sugar" which it should've been.

The lightbulb will have gone on for many of you by now and if not the clue is "what makes powdered sugar different from superfine granulated sugar?"

The second clue is "why do you never want to substitute powdered sugar in your iced tea?"

Answer?

Because "powdered sugar" is by definition superfine sugar containing up to 3% cornstarch.

We already know that "starch" or "gluten" can be legally used on a "clean" label to mean "modified" versions of those. I've also already noticed that many labels now say "Contains 2% or less of..." and hide the additives there. Although it's two layers of wording deep, the damned additives are in the "organic" stuff too. I might've known after hearing the big special on the Food Network (Thorn Industries' media outlet) which featured Newman's daughter walking around a farm all politically correctly beautiful and earnest a while back.

Oh and Breyer's has gone the way of all additives too. I used to riff on how their Natural Vanilla had started adding "naturally derived" artificial vanilla flavoring which was bad enough after their ad campaign but now they add tara gum too and yes the product has suffered dramatically. On the other hand they have this swell new line of ultra-smooth ultra-creamy postmodern flavors with abundant mix-ins and shiny bright cartons with ingredient labels half a box long, consumerism be praised.

Pity...I used to love Breyer's Natural Vanilla. Even melted, which was why I delighted in catching a bit of "Great Chefs of Some Big City Far Away" on public television years (ewg...at least one decade and maybe two) ago and learning that some cute young male chef cheated and used "melted premium vanilla ice cream" as a dessert sauce while I saw the easily-recognizeable black box go by. No more...and don't even get me started on all the new breakfast cereals (heavy on vanilla, cinnamon and maple) which don't even make it to the milk any more.

I think the only way to eat completely healthy is to eat things that have been around for two hundred years or more but even if one is willing to commit to preparing most everything from scratch, it's hard to do that if even the canned chicken can't be trusted any more. For a while I tried "minimize" but that's damned difficult as sneaky as the food conglomerates have become. Can't blame them though: they want their companies to profit same as any other...and have had six years now of a very agri-business friendly administration. Those additives make food taste good (and in my opinion they trigger eating binges and cravings too, which I doubt is inadvertent or unknown) which makes for a better bottom line.

So fine, I gave up, just like the subtitle of that movie . We're going to make some of those cute Pillsbury cookies for the holidays and wash them down with Starbucks frappuccino. Hell, I might even buy some Unilever stock while I'm at it...The Thorn Enterprise made money, right?

2 Comments:

Blogger JoVE said...

And part of the problem is the line your government takes on food labling. I'm not sure mine is much better, but having lived in the UK there are much stricter labling guidelines in the EU. Folks complain but at least you can make real choices. The US doesn't even have agreed organic standards and that very agri-business friendly administration tries to water down any that are attempted.

This seems counter to their love of the market as the ultimate arbiter. For markets to work properly individuals need good information. They are distorting the market. I'll stop ranting now as we largely agree.

December 13, 2006 1:23 PM  
Blogger Dharma said...

Oh dear you sound like me and my partner {loves} all that crap. Granted she likes good stuff but jeez. Last December I wrote a post "better than store bought" in her honour, sort of :-)

December 20, 2006 8:53 PM  

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