Hungry? Will That Be Sand Or Sawdust?

Mom always said, “you gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die.” That profound statement was usually preceded by a piece of partially eaten fruit jumping out of our hands and landing on the ground. God bless Mom, because she did the best she could to feed us on a tight budget. So the “peck of dirt” message really meant: 1) pick it up, we’ll wash it off, and 2) you ain’t gettin’ no more fruit till that’s gone.

Little did I know how true this “peck of dirt” idiom really was. For example: there I was walking through the grocery store, minding my own business, when suddenly I reached for the grated Parmesan cheese.  This was back in the day when we bought the shaky stuff in the plastic containers… a habit from how we were raised I guess. But foolish me, I had to read the label. Again. I’m always reading the stupid labels. I’m sorry, but I want to know what’s going into my mouth. At least, most of the time I want to know… sometimes I completely ignore the label when I reach for junk food. Anyhow, I noticed the Parmesan cheese ingredients include “powdered cellulose added to prevent caking.” And I’m thinking to myself, “hey self, isn’t cellulose like, wood??” So then I get home, and decide to look up “cellulose.” Well, it’s the material that makes up the cell walls of plants… and the dictionary goes on to say that it’s the raw material for many manufactured goods like paper. Oh… that’s nice. I remember reading about how paper is made. I’ve also seen many a logging truck pull into the chipping yard at the paper mill. So basically I was right when I was having that discussion with myself. They chop up wood to get that cellulose stuff for making paper.

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out: a) paper is made of cellulose, ok? 12) they chop up wood to make paper, right?? so therefore G19) the powdered cellulose in the Parmesan cheese is powdered wood. SAWDUST. Those boogers are putting sawdust in my Parmesan cheese! Mom never said anything about how many pecks of sawdust we had to eat before we die. But just for the heck of it, I looked at a different brand of Parmesan cheese. This one had a much fancier “anti-caking agent,” which they called “microcrystalline silica aluminate.” In other words, sand. Little teensy, tiny grains of sand! In the cheese! Dirt!! Mom was right!!!

What the heck has happened to our food?? Anyhow?? These companies take perfectly good food and pollute it with rocks and sticks. If I really want to eat sand or sawdust, all I have to do is go outside by the firewood pile and lick the ground. We have sandy soil, and I’m sure there are wood particles to be had, so there you go. Might even get some bugs, which of course provide protein and various minerals. But I’d really rather not, thank you. But this food pollution is really pervasive throughout just about everything you find in the stores these days. So long story longer, we don’t by that kind of Parmesan cheese no any more. The one with the wood in it. Nope, we’re high class these days and buy those fancy schmancy wedges of Parmesan from the Meijer Grocery Store House.

On top of all this, it seems like there are “foods” being invented just about every day. Take “turkey ham” for example. What the heck is that supposed to be? Where I come from, ham comes from pigs. Yes? No?? You don’t hear people going around offering you any “pork drumsticks” do you? Or how about “pig wings??” No, that sounds pretty silly. But wait!! Some local restaurant was advertising hog wings!!  And then there are “Buffalo wings” which are really chicken wings, but that’s because it’s a style of cooking that originated in Buffalo. Sheesh. A few years ago, some jive nurkeyhead came up with a “food” called “turkey bacon.” Sorry folks, no such thing. Look up “bacon” in the dictionary once. Mine says, “a side of a pig cured and smoked.” No turkey or other such fowl meat is mentioned.

I guess with all the health consciousness and low fat everything, turkey seems to be synonymous with all things nutritious. Well, have you ever taken a gander at the label on a package of turkey bacon? Chemical soup. I’ll eat the fat and take my chances, thank you very much. But if this silly trend continues unchecked, I can see an awful change in the language of dining coming down the pike. Something like this maybe:

“Hi Frank!! Hey glad you made it to the barbecue! What’ll you have??”

“Dunno… everything smells great. Whatchya got??”

“Well, we got tofu dogs, turkey pork chops, and imitation seafood protein conglomerate salad… OH! And I knew you’d probably be coming so I set aside some nice chicken filet mignon for you!!”

“MMMMmmmm!!! Well geez Ken, you’ve outdone yourself. Don’t mean to disappoint you, but I had chicken mignon last night at our company party. But that imitation seafood protein conglomerate salad sounds pretty inviting. Does it have any of that yellow #5 in it?”

“Nope! Not a drop of artificial coloring. Just good old modified soy proteins and hydrolyzed vegetable amino acids.”

“No yellow #5?? You’re absolutely sure?”

“Yep. I’m sure as I’m standin’ here.”

“Oh… bummer. Well, thanks… umm… guess I’ll go with the old style stuff and have one of those turkey pork chops. Could you please make mine… oh I dunno… I’ll be brave and go medium rare. Just a hint of neon green inside.”

“No problem dude. One medium rare turkey chop comin’ up!”

Doesn’t that sound yummy? I’m drooling all over the keyboard here. NOT!!  As far as the chemicals in food goes, I carefully read the labels these days.  If there’s anything naughty in the food it doesn’t come home with us.  Most of the time…

Pass the sticks and rocks please. Anybody seen the bottle of yellow??

And now for something exactly the same but completely different…