The Comfortable Baker

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Time to get up on the Soap Box

DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM???

Seriously? Do you have any idea?

Tomatoes? Lettuce? Bananas? And those are just fresh vegetables.

So this was all prompted by a visit with my friend Betty (name changed). Betty is ‘in a family way’ and we were discussing how being pregnant makes you rethink your diet (or it should!) Betty has a gluten intolerance (Celiac), which when pregnant can become severe. She must be very, very careful about what she is eating, not just when she is pregnant, always and forever. She reads every label and knows where her food comes from. I applaud her!

I am a baker, and now a business owner. Do you know what you have to do when you bake for a living? Make ingredient labels. Being a chef and a country girl, I know what’s in season and where it is coming from. But I didn’t know what was in Vegetable shortening (Crisco) until last week. I have a basic knowledge of what it is (as should every Chef) it’s hydrogenated vegetable oil. So in basic non-sciencey terms, the molecule of vegetable oil has open parts like the sides of an inside piece of a puzzle, where things can fit. So to turn liquid vegetable oil into a solid shortening, they use hydrogen and fill up those sides. But a lot of the time they don’t fill everything up, so you get partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil. Awesome right, it’s from veggies and now it makes decent pie crust (not as good as lard, but that’s for another post) problem is that when you don’t fill up all the bonds it leaves spots open and stuff can cling to it and get into your body. FREE-RADICALS!!!! These are the hangers on of the cool kids world. So sometimes, bad nasty sh*t can help it’s self on in to our bodies. Cancer causing stuff and the like. These Trans-fats also lead to heart diseases and a host of other nasty illnesses. Listen I’m not a scientist and I’m sure if you know one they would be able to explain it better to you, probably a scientist out there will read this and have many, many polite observations on how I could have explained it better. Listen there is a wikipedia article HERE. But they use lots of sciencey terms. Where was I going with all this…. Oh yes what’s in Crisco.  Ok so I know Crisco isn’t the best for you, but neither are the triple chocolate cream de menthe brownies that I make. Everything in moderation I say.  But I was making a label and got out the can to copy the ingredients over.  Good Lord in Heaven ABOVE! What was all this crap?

Vegetable Shortening: (Soybean Oil, Fully Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Palm and Soybean Oils Mono and Diglycerides, TBHQ and Citric Acid (Antioxidants)

I don’t know what TBHQ is and frankly I’m scared to look it up. Oh and on a side note, I don’t know how to make the font bigger, if someone knows throw me a comment wouldya?  Back to the Rant.  So out shopping today, I needed more shortening, because in some baking applications, you need a solid fat and butter (always delicious) doesn’t always translate across recipes without some major tinkering. And not for nothing if Grandma said use shortening… I’m not messing with the best.  True though when Grandma used shortening, I’m sure it didn’t have TBHQ in it. Ok. I looked it up. It’s an antioxidant. Really it keeps fats from going rancid. So that means I can have crisco on the shelf for years and….Still Good!  That scares me, I knew I didn’t want to look it up :/  So checking out the food labels on solid vegetable shortening can be a wonderful and eye opening experience. Well not really. But on the good side I found a shortening that doesn’t have so much of the extra crap in it. And it was a store brand. So I saved a few pennies, left out a few chemicals, and pretty much vowed to read every label I buy. Eventually I would like to go all natural baking. Slowly I will change recipes and work out the chemicals when I can. It will take time, and it will be hard to find replacements that work.

So I got really far off topic- sort of.  Back to knowing where your food comes from. We live in a society that has come to believe that strawberries can be grown year round. Here. In America.  News flash…. They can’t. Though we do have a great range of climates and are able to get a longer growing season on a lot of vegetables. We can’t grow everything all year around. But we can ship in Apples from New Zealand, and fruit from Chile, and Mexico.

Being at the farmers markets has really opened my eyes to how little people understand where there food comes from.  A lady walked in to the market and was looking for corn. Now I can guess she probably doesn’t drive past a corn field on her way home, it’s not even knee high yet. The corn your eating out of the supermarket was shipped in from the south. Probably Texas and the like. I did find a great site that helps folks understand when food will be ripe in their area.  Check it out HERE.

It’s really sad that many Americans have little concept of the origin of their food. So tonight when you sit down to the dinner table, take a look around. Do you know where your food came from and what’s in it?

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One thought on “Time to get up on the Soap Box

  1. Maree on said:

    I’m finding that I buy a lot more store brands lately because they have less ingredients, which means less of the bad stuff that you should avoid. It is also an added bonus that you can save money! Yay!

    A great example of this is brand name ginger ale is loaded with sodium, and the Hannaford brand has ZERO! Awesome for me! : )

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