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Big Food on the Fringe

October 22, 2018

Saturday was the Tour de Donut: Wild Card edition, and it was a great outing. I’ll have the official results for you later this week. This weekend was also the Third Annual Adirondack Film Festival in Glens Falls, and it was fantastic.

I don’t know if I had ever stepped foot in downtown Glens Falls before. It’s a really beautiful little city. And across the river in South Glens Falls in Common Roots Brewing, which I finally got to visit. Queensbury is to the north, and since I was with Little Miss Fussy, we had to stop in at Mr. B’s Best for a roast beef sandwich.

This weekend I also took on an unplanned cooking project which involved short ribs and the Instant Pot. Maybe I’ll be able to get around to that story later this week too. But for right now, there was a quick but interesting story I stumbled upon in the aisles of Target yesterday.

It’s always fun to see big food companies finally catch on to consumer demands.

Usually this is a long slow process. It wasn’t that long ago that most shelf stable foods in the grocery store were packed full of partially hydrogenated fats. I still remember when I began the search for foods without this undesirable ingredient, and all I could find were Mi-Del cookies from Canada. Of course there were always a few products made with real butter like Walkers Shortbreads. But one cannot live on shortbread alone.

Now that manufacturers have finally walked away from these cheaper oils which offered products with longer shelf lives at the expense of their consumers’ health, my attention has been redirected to other ingredients.

Largely I have been focused on corn and soy.

Part of this has to do with a feeling that as a nation we’ve become too reliant on these two crops. Calling this system a monoculture doesn’t feel accurate, because we’re talking about two different foods. But if you get out into farm country it’s pretty much corn or soybeans for as far as the eye can see.

Since so many of our farms aren’t growing food meant for direct human consumption, it’s not uncommon to see farms with gardens designed to feed the farmer’s family. It’s wild that so many farmers spend so much time growing crops they can’t eat.

Then there’s the part about a few large international chemical companies owning the patents on the corn and soy seeds that are engineered to be resistant to powerful herbicides. Not to mention the legislative framework which protects these companies, and offers little recourse to small family farms whose land may have been contaminated by agricultural drift.

As a handy shorthand, I can look for an Organic label or the seal of the Non-GMO Project. But both of those labels come with their own set of problems. And it’s not Organic nor GMO free products, per se, that I’m looking to buy.

So you’ll never guess what I found in Target yesterday. Something called Hershey’s Simply 5 in “Genuine Chocolate Flavor”. Really, I think it could have used six ingredients, but I bought it anyway. The five are:

  1. Sugar
  2. Organic invert sugar
  3. Water
  4. Cocoa
  5. Natural Vanilla Flavor

What it’s missing is salt, which is part of classic Hershey’s “Genuine Chocolate Flavor” syrup. However, it’s also missing High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Potassium Sorbate (a preservative), mono and diglycerides (an emulsifier), xantham gum (a thickener and emulsifier), Polysorbate 60 (a wetting agent and emulsifier), and artificial vanilla flavor.

It’s also Non-GMO Project Verified which means that the sugar doesn’t come from GE sugar beets, which aren’t one of my top concerns, but does play into the theme of patenting life. These beets aren’t engineered to grow in low water conditions, provide greater nutrition, or otherwise improve life on earth. They are simply engineered to not die when sprayed with poisons that would ordinarily kill plant life.

GE Sugar Beets are good for the chemical companies and their bottom lines. I’ve yet to be convinced that it’s good for me, the planet, or any of the other things I care about.

So I bought a bottle of Hershey’s Simply 5. I didn’t need it. However, I wanted to support not just Hershey’s for creating a product that fills a hole in the market, but also Target for creating a channel for the product to the mass market.

This is a small ray of hope that thing are changing for the better, and that mainstream America is finally catching up to my fringe beliefs and desires.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2018 10:53 am

    But you’re ok with the chocolate coming from child slave labor? Come on now.

  2. Dave permalink
    October 22, 2018 1:56 pm

    What is that? Times New Roman to Arial in the middle of the post? I’m deeply offended.

  3. October 22, 2018 2:38 pm

    Dave. That’s so weird. Thanks. Fixed.

    Jen. Of course not. But neither is Hershey’s. Now you can say the moves their making are too little and too late. However, sometimes it takes the big companies who have screwed things up to fix them.

    The global coffee market is also problematic. As is much of the clothing industry. And pretty much anything we buy that comes from a large corporate enterprise has a CEO at its head who is taking home (certainly not “earning”) an unconscionable income at the expense of workers and taxpayers around the world.

    Still, I believe in celebrating small gains and shifts in better directions.

    • Dave permalink
      October 22, 2018 3:12 pm

      You are welcome.
      -The Font-Pedant

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