A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
The holier-than-thou among us — and Internet nerds — like to point out that our food is woefully contaminated by all manner of terrible crap. Yeah, so what? We all know that Grape-Nuts cereal doesn’t actually have any grapes in it — or nuts either, for that matter. (It’s made of wheat and barley.) And any European will tell you that American cheese might very well be American, but it certainly isn’t cheese. In fact, it’s so far from cheese that the manufacturers — yes, manufacturers — have to call it a ‘cheese product.” And that’s the thing. These days, various government regulations make certain we’re aware of what we’ve about to put in our mouths, so if you don’t want to eat tridisodiumonotoneglycirodium phosphate or whatever? Simple solution: don’t. However, there’s still a lot of food out there casually strolling through legal loopholes to masquerade (“scam” is such a hard word) as something it’s not.
(BTW, this isn’t about GMOs. That’s a whole different kettle of faux fish.)
Orange Juice — “100% pure orange juice” is orange juice. However, in order for your breakfast beverage to survive the month or so it takes to get to you, the OJ people actually remove the oxygen from it. This prevents the orange part of the juice from turning green and the juicy part of the orange from getting slimy. Unfortunately, removing the oxygen also removes the smell and the taste. Both of these are artificially reintroduced during processing. This isn’t a nefarious plot to con you out of your orange juice. Use your head! It’s just a very long journey from the tree to your table. If you want pure orange juice, buy oranges and squeeze them yourself.
Tuna — If you’ve been to a sushi restaurant lately and ordered tuna maki, tuna roll or tuna anything else, chances are good you didn’t actually get tuna. You probably got escolar, a cheap and plentiful fish that’s been “substituted” for tuna (and not just in sushi restaurants) ever since overfishing devastated the wild tuna stocks. The truth is the only way you can be sure you’re getting real tuna is pay the big money or buy it in a can.
And while we’re on the subject…
Wasabi — The hot green condiment that’s a staple of Japanese cuisine — except mostly it isn’t. Real wasabi is prohibitively expensive (it only grows in a few places in Japan) so most sushi restaurants use a combination of horseradish, mustard and food colouring. They call it wasabi because people like me don’t know the difference.
Olive Oil — You get what you pay for. Real olive oil is mega-expensive. Anything else is a combination of other oils (soy, mostly) that have had olives carefully described to them.
Honey — Not all honey is created equal. Some honey is created by bees in a hive. However, other honey is created by folks in a factory who take a small amount of honey (enough to justify the name) and add fructose, sucrose, glucose and any other -ose they happen to have kickin’ around. Technically, this is still honey, but in actual fact, it’s syrup. The way to tell the difference? The busy bee sugar is pure honey and will start to crystallize the minute you open the jar. The other stuff is too lazy to bother.
Blueberries — The only similarity between consumer blueberries (found in cereals, muffins, cakes etc.) and real round blueberries is both of them are blue.
Coffee — Most consumer brands of coffee have a small percentage of foreign bits and bobs hidden away in the grind. Basically, this is just part of the harvesting, roasting, grinding process. No big deal — it’s still coffee. However, some of the cheaper brands actually add things like grain, soy beans and corn to the mix — just enough so they don’t have to claim them as ingredients on the label. Coffee? Kinda, but if you’re devoted to real coffee, buy the beans.
What it comes down to is pure food is all about the money. Either ya pony up the big bucks for the good stuff, or ya shut up and eat your tridisodiumonotoneglycirodium phosphate.
I seemed to have hit the wrong button and now WordPress won’t let me like, reply or even acknowledge comments. We’re working on the problem. I hope we can fix it very soon but until then I want everybody to know I’m not ignoring you. Cheers WD