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.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Additive Free

That’s how I’ve been trying to live this week. It’s been interesting.

Anyone who knows me or has followed this blog for very long knows that I have Big Issues with agri-business, factory food and all the strange additions to the food labels over the past few years. (The most recent is "soy lecithin" but I digress.)

So fine, I thought I’d put my money where my mouth was…or in this case my mouth where my ideology was. One week with no additives at all, starting Sunday. MIL is only too happy to do the cooking for the rest of the house so I didn’t even have to take anyone along for the ride with me.

In post-millennial consumer-driven America it isn’t as easy to eat additive-free as one might expect. The first step is to accept up-front that there will be no prepackaged starches or sauces of any kind…and not as many dairy products as you’d think because all the yogurt and most of the cream or cottage cheeses have been adulterated. You have to read every damned label of every damned product since even the canned chicken has modified food starch now.

So fine. On Sunday I had old-fashioned plain oatmeal and a handful of sunflower seeds for breakfast then tuna mixed with sour cream for lunch. I hadn’t really planned to go Atkins so I was happy to see a big ol’ "Original recipe" banner on the plain Fritos and discover that they still contained only whole corn, corn oil and salt. (My hormones were happy too.)

I quickly learned that if you want a "clean" starch your choices are plain pasta or cooking a whole grain. I did some of both and remembered just how damned good plain pasta tossed with lightly salted butter really is…and how boring barley can be unless you help it with some sour cream and cracked pepper.

I got back in touch with my food and that was terrific. When I stopped at the grocery I was no longer thinking "meal" but "item" which is much healthier. Vegetables truly came into their own: on Tuesday night the biggest portion of my dinner was a sweet Vidalia onion sauted in olive oil with fresh sliced mushrooms, salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar cooked down. Very yummy and entirely additive-free. Wednesday night I sauted a fennel (anise) root in butter and that was just dandy also.

Lunch at work was saved by a reasonably well-stocked salad bar. However it was far more "dietetic" than I’d planned: no dressings, no lunchmeats, no prepared mac or potato salads (the mayo) no croutons and no chow mein noodles meant that I was grazing on peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli and mozzy cheese all dressed with salt and pepper. Healthy yes but also boring so I was glad for the made-on-site "grilled veggie burrito" which after being separated from its adulterated wrapper was a tasty meal of rice, black beans, tomatoes, zucchini and cheddar cheese.

By the third day I really did feel much better. By the fifth I dropped enough water weight to make snug clothes loose again and my mother-in-law comment "you losing weight. What you doing?" (I was a complete bitch: "Nothing—the scales say I haven’t lost an ounce.") I didn’t suffer from the nightly bloating and indigestion I had attributed to my chaotic household…nor did I wake up with the stuffiness I’d been blaming on the houseful of critters. As Arte Johnson
used to say, "Vee-r-r-ree-e-e-e in-ter-es-tink!"

Desserts were nonexistent but I couldn’t live without sweets entirely so I bought dried figs, which I love. I also had canned fruit (mandarin oranges, pears) a couple of times. I remembered that the chocolate pudding cake recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook was indeed "clean" since it used flour and milk and sugar and cocoa powder but I talked myself out of "that much work" for a sweet fix.

The problem with being out of the mainstream is that it’s hard to stay out of the mainstream. Thursday night the Ducklings had Jiffy-Pop (notice who makes it?) and I couldn’t resist.

After four days of the way food is supposed to taste, the "natural flavoring" synthetic butter was like Peruvian flake in the Eighties and the salt was just so damned very salty…ohboy. I only had three handsful since we were sharing amongst the family but if we’d had another pie-tin of the stuff I would’ve been first in line to get it on the burner.

An hour later I found myself eating the Polaner All-Fruit straight from the jar with a spoon. Coincidence? I think not. (Oh and that "all natural" thing? Load of crap.) Woke up all stuffy-n-puffy again the following morning too. It went away after hard boiled eggs and plain tea for breakfast but I sure thought that was an interesting bit of data.

The other interesting finding is that although I hadn’t planned for this to be "a diet" it ended up being one because there was so little I could eat. Those two things sure say a lot about food in our society as a whole, don’t they?

Yes but that can be another post; I have to go forage for some lunch now.


Anonymous gvv said...

Of course, I, the vegetarian, has to comment. I find that, if you make spice rubs and mixtures ahead of time, you can mix it with numerous foods to add flavor that the additives are supposed to mimic. Regarding yogurt, which I eat at least twice a day, I have found that brands called Cascade, Wallaby, Horizon, and Stonyfield are much more favorable. I will not eat yogurt tainted by gelatin or Nutrasweet. You may have farms in your region that you could get dairy items from directly that won't be tainted. You would also be more of a locavore.--G

June 24, 2007 11:01 AM  
Blogger SamD said...

Our family's yogurt needs are actually well-met by the local organic dairy co-op who provide not just plain but also "maple cream" with REAL maple syrup...but that 1) isn't relevant to anyone outside the county and 2)detracts from the story.

June 26, 2007 7:20 AM  

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