Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This is Phood

The other day I was minding my own business (read: working the phones, calling stores about getting them to carry our products), when a salesman for an ingredient company showed up and wanted to talk to me about buying from his company. Among other things, we buy a lot of tapioca, literally a truckload of it at a time. We also buy large quantities of expeller-pressed, non-GMO canola oil and all natural mozzarella cheese. Word gets around. Sales people are often soliciting our business.

This guy starts his pitch and of course wants to know from whom we currently buy our ingredients and how much we pay. All good and fine. He then whips out his glossy sales literature to show me the kinds of stuff he can sell me. I start looking through the five-page catalog while he peppers me with questions. Do we use any dough conditioners? Or binding agents? Stabilizers? Nope, nope, and nope. The more I read, the more amazed I become. Just the categories of substances were unbelievable: acidulants, excipients, humectants, phosphates, to list a few. Yummy things like benzoic acid, propylene glycol, and calcium sulfate. We see these ingredients in processed foods all the time, and every now and then I have wondered where do you get stuff like this? Now I know.

I began to really joke around with the guy. “Man,” I say, this is like I am reading something from Dow Chemical. You really expect me to put this stuff in our bread?” In fact, his company is mostly a chemical company, except that this is stuff you can legally put in food. “Look at this, what’s a ‘humectant?’” One of our staff folks, Ruth, is sitting at a desk across the room, overhears this and pipes up,”Oh, I know what that is, it’s in my hair conditioner!” Oh boy.

I couldn’t help imagining how this stuff must be packaged. In big metal drums, like chlorine for swimming pools? Or in heavy-duty plastic bags like you find lawn fertilizer and weed killer? Or perhaps thick plastic bottles for detergents and the stuff that unclogs your drains or cleans your toilets? I won’t be finding out. We don’t touch this stuff. And I have to keep reminding myself: This is food, this is food, this is food. No, wait! No, it’s not. It’s Phood! PHOOD!!!

Say “no” to industrialized phood.

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