Food stuff


Food preservation has come a long way in the 3,000 years since Andes Indians dried their potatoes for leisurely winter consumption. We’ve progressed too, it seems, from our cockeyed belief in decades past that chemical preservatives act in the body as they do in food – to preserve tissues and help us live longer – to a desire to avoid preservatives.

Karl Johnson, of the Chiropractic Wellness Center of Macomb, is a specialist in holistic nutrition. He advises that the ingredients you can’t understand on food labels are probably additives or synthetic preservatives. And they’re not good for you.

Such ingredients include benzoates, BHA, BHT, nitrites, calcium propionate and sorbic acid, which prevent mold, fungus and rancidity in various foods. They are also suspected of causing headaches or allergic reactions; and some researchers think BHT and nitrites might cause cancer.

Coffee creamer – which contains synthetic color and flavor, vegetable oil and corn syrup – set this casual look at preservatives in motion. I started bringing a flask of milk to work, to put in my coffee to avoid creamer’s chalky, not-fresh taste. But the milk, which sat on my desk, soured after my third cup or so.

If the milk was poured into a cup of coffee, it didn’t smell bad four hours later. The difference? Johnson, laughing, guesses that coffee doesn’t provide a good growing environment for milk-souring microorganisms. He doubts, however, that coffee is a good preservative.

Johnson notes that vitamin E and other natural preservatives are destroyed when foods are processed. Then BigFoodCo compounds the abuse by substituting preservatives BHA and BHT for the lost natural ones.

One reason our food is not as nourishing as it was in the 19th century is cost-cutting farming by BigFarmCo. Our food is grown on just 4 inches of topsoil. Crops in the 1800s flourished in 20-inch, nutrient-loaded topsoil.

From the BigChocoCo file: Perhaps you’ve noticed that candy bars now carry a freshness date code. Great, except that it resembles, more than anything, a Canadian postal code (i.e. H4Y 7A3). Best if we just squeeze the candy, as before.

In any case, Johnson says coffee and candy are foods to avoid. Also verboten are white sugar and white flour, which have had most of the nutrition processed out of them. These have been christened "white trash" by natural foods nutritionists.

The march to an additive-and-synthetic-free, whole-foods society is aided by the growth of food co-ops and farmers’ markets. The widespread availability of whole and organic foods at the supermarket is commendable, says Johnson, noting that the body needs good rebuilding blocks – good food – to repair itself from the stresses of modern life.

Can You Trust a Tomato in January? by Vince Staten, 1993, is a bright, amusing book of food information. For further guidance, Johnson recommends calling the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation at 800-FOODS-4-U. –Dennis Shea


Practice for millennium partying this Tuesday, May 25, with the "Official Champagne of the Millennium." Join representatives from Korbel Champagne at Hart Plaza at 11:30 a.m. to ring in, well, noon. … Next time you eat at National Coney Island, think of this: Tim Allen recently ordered up enough coneys, Vernor’s and Sander’s hot fudge for everyone on the set of "Home Improvement." The National Coney Island folks even delivered the goodies to the studio. Now, will they deliver to your house?

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