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"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Thinking about Thickeners

What are xanthan gum and high fructose corn syrup doing in my balsamic vinaigrette?

I pondered this after a recent bout of label browsing ... something I'll admit to almost never doing.

Aside from the HFCS providing a bit of sweetness to my salad lubricant (I'm guessing, also, a preservative quality?) it and its gum pal add something intriguing: TEXTURE.

Which led me to think about all the "goo" we use to make things tasty. The cream sauce over the chicken has to be think enough to stick to the top and pile onto the plate, not zoom around the rim, attempting an escape. The dressing must sit ON the lettuce, rather than filtering to the bottom where one must either discard the remainder or slurp it up indelicately.

Soup, unless it be the broth-around-lumps type (ie: french onion, chicken noodle), must be thick enough to stick to the spoon and easily make the trip to the face.

Melted butter would saturate a few popcorn pieces on the way down, creating a few soggy butter bombs amongst the fluffy goodness ... so we use coconut oil, etc., to make the goo stick but not soak.

All these thoughts led me to recall reading that toothpaste bubbles and tingly mint are absolutely extraneous; they don't mean cleaner teeth. We've become accustomed to the FEEL of them, hence we shy away from "paste" that is just that: paste. Same thing with bubbles in shampoo and soap. We feel cleaner if we have the foam.

All this random thought to say: perhaps if we changed the way we "needed" our products to behave, we could more easily change our food intake and consumption of chemical-based home and personal care products.


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