The Two Questions

Does it taste good?

Do you know what’s in it?

These are the two questions which determine our cooking choices aboard Poseidon. ‘Does it taste good?’ pretty much speaks for itself and is, anyway, highly personal. Unless you have serious food issues, making sure that what you eat tastes good doesn’t seem too hard to achieve. So, even though taste is a key question for us – maybe the most important question of all – I’ll move on to ‘Do you know what’s in it?’

You’d think a pack of bread crumbs would be filled with … bread crumbs.  Here’s Progresso’s ingredients’ list:

Enriched Flour, Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Soybean, Cottonseed, Corn, Canola, Water, Salt, contains Less than 2% of: Yeast, Honey, Molasses, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Whey, Soy Flour, Whole Wheat Flour,Rye Flour, Corn Flour, Oat Bran, Corn Meal, Rice Flour, Potato Flour, Butter, Dough Conditioners (Mono- and Diglycerides, Sodium and/or Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate, Soy Lecithin, Calcium Carbonate), Yeast Nutrients (Ammonium Sulfate, Calcium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate) Vinegar, Nonfat Milk, Buttermilk, Lactic Acid, Calcium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate, Preservatives, Sesame Seeds, Salt, Dried Parsley, Spices, Onion Powder, Garlic, Natural Flavor, Eggs, Sunflower Seeds.

One astonishing fact: the ingredients are listed in descending order of content, so the salt, dried parsley, spices, onion powder and garlic which are supposed to give the breadcrumbs their flavor are far outweighed by high fructose corn syrup, for example, and Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate.  Whatever that is.

So next time a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, perhaps it’s worth preparing and seasoning your own.  That way you’ll eliminate 50-odd – very odd – ingredients and know exactly what you’re eating.

When John and I began the Poseidon Cooks! adventure, it revolved around our personal choices and preferences.  We’ve never been preachers; we have a great respect for personal choice but, at the same time, we’ve been surprised at what we’re learning.  One lesson, reinforced by reading all kinds of cookbooks and food books, including OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA, is that it appears most people are more careful about what they put into their cars (and boats) than they are about what they put into their bodies.  Here. I’m not so much thinking of precise measurements of butter, olive oil, salt, or any of the other basics which the food nannies have demonized, but other unimaginable chemical and somewhat ‘unnatural’ additives used to preserve, color, bulk or otherwise ‘enhance’ food products.

You’d be surprised how many of these are petroleum-related and, last time I looked, petroleum wasn’t high on the list of natural food products for man or beast. Beyond petroleum products, there is an astonishing number of chemical food additives and colorings which, intuitively, once you know their composition, you suspect cannot be healthy.

I’m not your food nanny, nor do I want to sound like it. My only point here is to suggest that we all should know exactly what we’re eating and what effects ‘non-natural’ foodstuff might have on us.

It’s your choice, of course.