Wednesday, June 13, 2012

All Natural Ingredients, No Preservatives*

The picture is pretty self-explanatory.

I'd like to briefly touch on some marketing that makes me bristle ever so slightly.  This movement towards "all-natural ingredients that mothers can actually pronounce!"

First off, I would like to direct your attention to the picture which heads this post.  You'll notice an asterisk [*] where it says that no preservatives have been added to the ham.  An explanation below on the packaging explains that there are no preservatives other than those "natural ingredients" listed.  I find this ridiculous.  The salt, vinegar, and lemon juice will contribute to preserving the meat.  This is, of course, where ham originated as an edible.  Smoked, salted meat resisted spoiling during the long winter months, guaranteeing our forefathers meat protein during long, cold winters that predated refrigerators.

This brings me to the "smoke flavour".  This product appears to want to give the appearance of transparency, in that poor, barely literate mothers will be able to wrap their feeble minds around what has actually been put into the meat they will feed to their darling children (because won't somebody please think of the children?).  However, I would argue that this is not transparent at all.  Sure, mothers can pronounce "smoke flavour", but what is the smoke flavour exactly?  Are any of the ingredients in this flavour carcinogenic [cancer-causing]?  Is the flavour a distillate of actual smoke, or is it purely fabricated in a laboratory?  Does it contain sodium nitrate or nitrite?  It would be nice to know.  Actual smoked meat contains high[-er than normal] levels of these nitrogen-containing compounds, and doctors recommend against a diet high in said compounds.  Further, what is "spice"?  It can be pronounced, sure, but what is it?  Dishonest, that's what.

I'd also like to inquire as to the exact point at which we stopped trusting preservatives.  It seems that everyone wants to boast a preservative-free product.  Even beer marketers tout a preservative-free brew, despite the fact that the beer uses hops as a preservative.  However, there is a reason that preservatives are used.  Without the use of preservatives in our current food system, food-borne illness would be much more prevalent than it is now, and these are potentially life-threatening illnesses.  It's a similar situation to fire retardant materials.  Yes, the materials are toxic if you make a habit of snacking on couch cushions.  But without fire retardants, houses (and further, cities) are essentially very large tinder boxes.  In fact, I've heard people decry the retardants because they eject halogens (nasty fumes).  This is, of course, the only way scientists have figured out to keep a material from burning.  You know what else causes nasty fumes?  Fires.  Think about it.

To keep this post from being longer than it has to be, I'll more or less end with one further detail.  I'm certain that this product contains ascorbic acid.  If television marketing is to be believed, an ingredient like ascorbic acid on a food label would cause housewives everywhere to throw out the product, and run out into the streets, arms flailing wildly to warn other housewives of the danger of this unpronounceable item.  In actuality, ascorbic acid is vitamin C, and would be present in the lemon juice.  It's good for you, but those three syllables don't exactly roll off the tongue.


P.S.  I'm just a touch sleep deprived, you may need to forgive me on how this post turned out.
P.P.S.  The ham was delicious.  I would definitely buy it again.