Let's be honest: processed foods are having a rough time of it in the media, in science research, and basically everywhere except the national pocketbook.
Consider this little article posted just this morning on how mice fed emulsifiers "underwent changes in gut bacteria and inflammation of the gut – changes that led to obesity and diabetes in these animals." What are emulsifiers? Basically, they keep foods from separating and looking like salad dressing before you give it a good shake. Foodadditivesworld.com lists the most common emulsifiers as "lecithins, mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids esters of monoglycerides of fatty acids and phosphated monoglycerides." Emulsifiers are in everything. That soy lecithin in your chocolate bar? Emulsifier. Monoglycerides in your ice cream? Emulsifier. The mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids in your peanut butter? Emulsifier.
Let's just hope this study proves to be an example of where the human gut and the mouse gut part ways.
Don't get me wrong. I love the convenience of processed foods as much as the next person. We eat breakfast cereal by the truckload in our house (if I had a time machine, I'd use my first trip back not to save the world but just to change the breakfast habits I ingrained in my children). I use frozen vegetables in a pinch. We have boxes of (organic) mac & cheese. We have tortilla chips and tortillas and unemulsified peanut butter and Tillamook cheese. We have canned tomato sauce and tomato paste. I am not going to grow and make everything we eat.
But there are processed foods and then there are processed foods. In honor of processed foods, I give you the inaugural post of Gross Groceries.
A trip to the grocery store holds wonderful surprises (running into a friend) and horrific ones. I know they have cameras watching us in the store, but I couldn't resist taking a picture, when I saw this new product on the endcap.
That right there would be soup in a pouch. A non-compostable, non-recyclable pouch, no less. Now, I confess--we buy exactly two cans of soup per year--the cream of mushroom to make green bean casserole. When my oldest daughter went out for her first babysitting job and was handed a can of soup to feed the kids, she looked so blank that the mom had to explain to her what to do with it. But at least canned soup comes in a responsible container! What the heck is this pouch? Is it meant to be a bota bag you squeeze into your mouth? Like--ugh--GoGurt?
Actually, the soup within the pouch isn't any worse than canned soup, I imagine. True Gross Groceries should both (1) cause your toes to curl when you see them and (2) make you wince when you eat them. Probably the original Gross Grocery item is the one my twelve-year-old daughter still begs for, though I've never bought it.
Adding sugar and vibrant, unnatural color seems to be the surefire way to sell anything to kids. Like these two Pop Tart varieties:
But it's almost too easy to find Gross Groceries in aisles that target children, so I'll end with this treasure for all ages:
On the plus side, they're mostly corn chips fried in vegetable oil. After that, things head downhill pretty fast. We're talking MSG, artificial colors, four other processed corn products, synthetic flavors, and preservatives. Well, at least nothing needed emulsifying.