I’ve discovered a new food group. Zombie Food.
Not food you feed TO zombies, but food that IS zombie—food that refuses to die within its appointed time.
I have on our kitchen counter a lemon-poppyseed muffin stump that is still soft and fresh after a month. I bought it for my wife back on August 26 at the Stop & Shop in Provincetown.
She ate the muffin top, and put the stump into a sandwich bag for later. (You’ll recall the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine hatches a plan to sell only muffin tops, while unloading the stumps at a homeless shelter.)
The muffin has been sitting on the counter since August 26. There’s dust collecting on the sandwich bag, but the muffin inside is soft to the touch. Absolutely no sign of mold, either.
This got me wondering. What kind of surreal food preservatives are in this thing?
Good luck. The FDA maintains a list of ingredients called Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS), which lists more than 3,000 items.
Vitamins C and E are sometimes added to food products as a preservative. But the most popular chemical additives in the food industry today are benzoates, nitrites, sulphites and sorbates. These additives kill and prevent molds and yeast from growing on food. Sulfur dioxide is the most common man-made preservative; it acts as a bleaching agent in food.
Most EAFUS ingredients are benign, but a few of them do have potentially harmful effects.
On the website “Eat This, Not That” are listed the 10 scariest food additives. Here are two that might be lurking in my zombie muffin stump.
- Azodicarbonamide, a synthetic yellow-orange dough conditioner, is used most frequently in the production of industrial foam plastic. In a review of 47 studies on azodicarbonamide, the World Health Organization concluded that it probably triggers asthma. The WHO concluded, “exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible.” This stuff is in Dunkin’ Donuts bagels and McDonald’s burger buns.
- Ammonium sulfate is an inorganic salt that occurs naturally near active volcanoes and is used commercially to nourish yeast and help bread rise. However, this compound is most often used as fertilizer—and in flame retardants. Both the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the FDA deem it safe, so you’ll find it in Subway rolls, among other places.
This is a complicated and controversial subject, but food expert Michael Pollan makes it simple. He recommends that we avoid anything our grandparents would not recognize as food.
As for my lemon-poppyseed zombie, I’m with Stephen King, who says in Pet Sematary, “Sometimes dead is better.”
In my next blog, “Coat of Many Colors”
Read my newest book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in print or Kindle from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Guy-Boat-Peter-Yaremko/dp/0990905012/
Also available is my e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.
- Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R3SF200
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