The deal was however, that Gibbons actually ate parts of the tree or the wild plants and mushrooms where he was foraging and he did it knowingly. He was close to the source. Today, in our processed food environment, many of us have taken to eating trees or tree by-products without knowing it or considering the implications.
In a controversial post this month over at Food Freedom, Miriam has taken the time to educate us and give us a list of popular processed food items that contain…trees. It appears that cellulose, a tree byproduct, is being added to many food items from tacos to maple flavored syrup in order to make the items have more volume and more “fiber” – non digestible fiber.
According to Miriam, “cellulose is virgin wood pulp that has been processed and manufactured to different lengths for functionality, though use of it and its variant forms (cellulose gum, powdered cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, etc.) is deemed safe for human consumption, according to the FDA, which regulates most food industry products. The government agency sets no limit on the amount of cellulose that can be used in food products meant for human consumption.” The USDA regulates meat however, and has set a threshold of 3 to 5% cellulose, because it isn’t recognized nutritionally.
What to do with this information? Don’t eat the stuff. Get close to your food source and by that, I mean choose to eat fresh vegetables, fruits and whatever grains your diet tolerates. The engineering of consumable products by food companies is far greater than we can imagine. If you are going to buy a convenience food, learn to read labels. Kimberly Lord Stewart, a food writer and friend, has an excellent book Eating Between the Lines where she offers detailed information about the actual meaning of different food labels and terms.
I read Michael Pollan’s article Unhappy Meals in the New York Times. It suggests that once we began deconstructing our food and engineering it back together with substances such as wood pulp corresponds to when we saw an increase in obesity and other health issues. It merits research as intuitively, it doesn’t take much for me to connect those dots. If I don’t know what I’m eating, I can easily be eating the wrong stuff.
So, this morning instead of brewing up a pine cone stew, I headed down to our local farmer’s market for this lovely local find:
Blogging about food frustration makes me feel better but my spending will send a message. So will yours.
What convenience food can you stop buying that will send a message?
Saturday Night Pasta
Feeds my 5 with no leftovers
12 oz. pasta
2 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 bunch kale, chopped, stems removed
1 tsp crushed red chiles
4 very thin slices of cured, smoked pork loin, chopped (optional)
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Salt to taste
Bring salted water to boil. Add pasta. For our dinner, I used a local red pepper pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the skillet and add the olive oil. Saute the garlic for about two minutes and then add the kale. Keep tossing over heat until the kale is wilted. If using meat, add it now. (the cured pork loin that I am using for half our servings is already fully cooked.) Add crushed red chiles and 2 Tbs of pasta water to the pan. Drain pasta and toss with the kale mixture. Add crumbled feta and serve hot.