RE: The Other Ingredients and Dollars
- Vanilla is very expensive when purchasing the small bottles at the grocery store, best price I found was $7 for 4oz (118 ml) at Korger or $5.50 for 2oz at Publix (59 ml). Vanilla is the most expensive ingredient of the recipe when purchasing in the grocery store. I use approximately one liter a year, which would be $59 at Kroger or $93 at Publix. In contrast, vanilla Beans cost $2.99 or $3.99 a bean at my usual spice store but I can also purchase them on Amazon, 5 beans for $8. A liter of inexpensive vodka cost $8. Add three beans to one liter of vodka and hide the bottle in a cabinet for 9 months. The product is full-fledged, delicious vanilla extract. Doing the math, I make vanilla for $17-20 a year.
- Raw nuts and fruits, even dried beans and peas, are also difficult products to track for purity. The Ball Corporation has put out a product since the 1970’s called Fruit Fresh© that is a preservative that retail consumers can purchase in powder form. Fruit Fresh is advertised as a product that keeps foods from turning brown. Food manufacturers and farm wholesalers have access to a liquid form and other competing products. MSG is an excellent preservative and adds flavor to factory farmed products that are often deficient in flavonoids. Sulfites are also common in these sprays. The big strawberries that are popular at this time are often sprayed with a product that gives flavor and sweetness to the fruit while increasing their shelf life. In my experience these chemicals do not wash off in water.
- Molasses, boiled sugarcane, comes in two basic categories, blackstrap molasses and molasses. Each of the two categories will have two choices: sulphured and unsulphured. Blackstrap is more caramelized and tends towards bitter while regular molasses may be blended with other syrups. Sulphured is a manufactured product in which Sulphur Dioxide is added. Don’t breathe the stuff. The best bet is unsulphured Blackstrap, which is also recommended by the American Heart Association.
- Do NOT purchase spices at the grocery store. Herbs and spices lose their taste within one year. Every item for purchase in this section of the grocery store is old and already devoid of full flavor. If there is not a spice store near your location, order online for a better product and almost always a better price. Amazon.com is not the best retailer for spices and herbs because they carry the same grocery store brands. Look here, here, or even here (larger quantities) for an idea of what you can stock in your house.
I hope you have enjoyed this research project into a commonly considered healthy food. Please consider a few takeaways:
- Reading labels is not enough. Each ingredient may deserve a label of its own contents. Caveat Emptor!
- Pure is not necessarily better but purity establishes a baseline from which an informed consumer can make choices of what to eat.
- Food manufacturers are sensitive to complaints. If enough consumers complain and force the comments into the media cycles, they will change formulations.
- Food is not a zero-sum game, where the consumer must always trade off one priority to gain another.
- When it comes to creating quality foods that are healthy, money is not the most significant barrier. Preparation time is the most consuming component.