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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Get ready to emulsify?

I've been doing this whole thing of talking about stuff that is potentially harmful for people, but that it can be found right in the things we consume every day. For example, the issues behind non-veg sugar, sweetness without the calories and how margarine is almost plastic, are some of those that I sought to explore. But the one thing I have discovered, of most if not all the times my curiosity has led me to look into such topics a little deeper, is that the things we tend to overlook and that are sold to us as being healthy, powerpacked alternatives are often not good for us. What do I mean? Remember those snacks containing Olean...that caused "anal leakage"? I mean, no matter how much the company tried to promote its benefits, I think it stands to reason that it does more harm than good. And what about those "mutant birds" at KFC, eh? Well, hoax or not, I don't think even The Colonel can dispute the fact that millions of chickens continue to live in squalid conditions and die gruesome deaths.

Well, this particular incident also began as a case of reasonable curiosity. It happened when Kempraj, the Facilities Manager, handed me a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk because it was his birthday. I just happened to look at the list of ingredients and wonder what on Earth "Emulsifiers (422, 476)" were? I mean, what was an emulsifier to begin with? So I looked it up, and as is usually the case, one thing led to another and by the end of it I'd looked up emulsify, emulsion, immiscible and colloidal. But I still wasn't getting a picture as to what an emulsifier was. Anyway, and because Google is in some way the electronic equivalent of an all-knowing entity, I decided to see what came up.

The first two results were a List of Haram Emulsifiers and VeggieGlobal's Nutrition Guide: Non-Vegetarian Food Additives. Interesting no doubt, especially for a creature-of-seemingly-endless-curiosity like myself. I mean, an attempt to discover what was in this chocolate bar in front of me had led me to one site that talked about a couple of ingredients as being religiously taboo, and another that pointed out that unless otherwise specified the source of the intriguing emulsifiers were non-vegetarian. What else would I come up with? How about an Animal-Derived Food Additives List and K.A.W.A (Kashrut Authority of Western Australia). As luck would have it, I'd struck it rich with another site that spoke of potential non-vegetarian origins of these ingredients, as well as another instance of taboo status, albeit from another religion. So what was the score at the end of all this madness?

Curiosity = ?, Emulsifiers = 0 (where ? denotes remaining curiosity and 0 denotes a nothing-gained-nothing-lost position).

And I realized that at the end of it all, I wasn't really worried about the potential harm the emulsifiers were doing to me. I mean, it's gotten to the stage where everything that a person lays her/his hands on is adulterated in some way, shape or form. That's the real threat. That's what I discovered. I mean, look at all the "additives" and "derivatives" that are part of all processed foods. Not to mention all the "permitted coloring" and "preservatives" that are also present. It's like our existence is slowly becoming a conveniently-packaged affair. Wow. Such is life?

If whatever I've written here doesn't worry you, then I guess you have nothing to worry about. If you're enjoying all the emulsifying and permitted coloring then why would I want to be the one to ruin the experience for you. Go ahead. Have a blast. And live each day like it's your deliciously-processed last.
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