Monday, September 22, 2014

This just in: Trick, or Treat?


I have old, over-corrected eyes, so please take a gander at this label for me. It adorns a box of Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix, or some such treat. Nary a pumpkin seed, nor any other part of the squash, to be seen. The J.M. Smucker Company, which apparently owns Betty Crocker, did package its product in a pretty pumpkin-colored box, though, didn't they?

My cherubs have started singing the praises of the season, in the form of cravings for Pumpkin Spice lattes, bagels, muffins, and the like.
At this point, I always feel compelled to break out my well-worn copy of Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser, the ultimate exposé of greed, grease and grabby corporate executives. I stage a brief "dramatic reading" - you know, the section that details how most of our yummy processed food flavors are generated by chemicals that make us salivate beyond all reasonable ecpectations - which eventually gets the teenagers thinking way more than they want to about what they put in their tummies. Especially when I get to the part about the yogurt flavors created by squashing zillions of over-stuffed Peruvian bugs.
"One of the most widely used color additives—whose presence is often hidden by the phrase 'color added'—violates a number of religious dietary restrictions, may cause allergic reactions in susceptible people, and comes from an unusual source. Cochineal extract (also known as carmine or carminic acid) is made from the desiccated bodies of female Dactlyopius coccus Costa, a small insect harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands. The bug feeds on red cactus berries and color from the berries accumulates in the females and their unhatched larvae. The insects are collected, dried, and ground into pigment. It takes about 70,000 of them to produce one pound of carmine, which is used to make processed foods look pink, red, or purple. Dannon strawberry yogurt gets its color from carmine, as do many frozen fruit bars, candies, fruit fillings, and Ocean Spray pink-grapefruit juice drink." ~ Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation

"Eeeeeeeewwwww, make her stop!" ~ One of my journalistas, about to injest said yogurt.


dkzody said...

I am highly allergic to red dye (for food, not hair).

Tara R. said...

No pumpkin in a pumpkin cake? There oughta be a law.

Tracy P. said...

But here's the thing: You can take said cake mix, combine it with a can of pumpkin (nothing else), and bake it in a 9x13 pan. Then it will, indeed, be pumpkin cake. A moist and delicious one at that. With a little nutrition thrown in. And possibly pulverized bugs. ;-) I usually use a carrot cake mix for that, but I've had trouble finding one.


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