I CONSIDER MYSELF an average Jo Bloggs when it comes to purchasING vegan-friendly snacks from the supermarket. A quick once-over of the ingredients would usually suffice, but a while back I had a touch of nostalgia (flashback: high school stairs + concrete + victorious tuck shop pizza), and did something of a different sort that was equally unimpressive: I didn’t read the Goddamn fine print.
Enter Exhibit A: A packet of sea salt and balsamic vinegar potato chips, meant to add noisy suspense music while I watched the boys in black contort the French players into an arrangement of defeated but delightful, squished pastries.
Unfortunately, my self control didn’t quite see it that way, and instead I found myself tucking into them that day at noon…
A couple of desperate handfuls in, and I realised that I wasn’t starting to feel too flash with a stinging pink patch on my neck to go with it. Grabbing the packet and reading over the ingredients list, it looked ‘okay’. My vocab doesn’t yet stretch to add some of the words there, but I thought that they couldn’t be too harmful… right?
But it was those sly food additive numbers staring back at me that really got me thinking. I try to avoid them where possible, knowing half-heartedly that because I don’t actually know any of them off by heart, it has to mean that therefore I don’t actually always know what I’m putting into my body, as much as I like to think that I in fact do.
So it was with this newfound speculation that I Googled the group of numbers on the back of my beloved chippie packet.
Surprise, surprise, both flavour enhancers were those which are derived from sardines, with one being a cousin of that badass MSG guy. I was NOT impressed.
The other numbers all came with warnings such as ‘may cause burns or wait for it… skin reactions! Not exactly an ideal pick up line when you’re trying to be serenaded by a packet of flavoured chips (and French footy players), I tell ya.
No prizes for guessing what was thrown into the trash a second later…
But I wasn’t satisfied enough to stop there. I attacked my cupboard, vigorously searching for any other lurkers, and while I only found a couple, that’s a couple too many.
After talking about the topic with family & friends, I found I wasn’t alone. In an age where the majority of us like things to be “instant”, it’s understandable that a quick two-minute food shop can let our hunger get the best of us as we’re passing by, but we wouldn’t let a stranger into our homes, so why let one into our precious bodies?
If anything it’s inspired me even more to stay away from “lucky dip” packaged foods and spend extra to get fresh and organic goods and encourage others around me to the same. I feel a heck of a lot better for it, that’s for sure, and I plan to investigate food additives and the like further to post in a future article here at Doctor Feelgood.
Greg from Vegan Australia kindly provided me with two great links. The first is a list of food additives derived from animal products which is a MUST see: www.vegetarianvictoria.org.au/healthy-living/animal-derived-food-additives.html
The second is a list of all food additives which is great for those with food intolerances such as wheat or soy: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/additiveoverview/pages/default.aspx