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Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets
BigBarn hero, Joanna Blythman went undercover and gained unprecedented access to the food industry in writing her latest book Swallow This’ which is an exploration of the food processing industry – not just the more obvious ready meals, chicken nuggets and tinned soups, but bagged salads, smoothies, yoghurts, bread and fruit juice we don’t usually associate with arrays of additives.
“Forget illegal, horse-meat-scandal processes, every step in the production of these is legal, but practised by a strange and inaccessible industry, with methods a world-away from our idea of domestic food preparation, and obscured by technical speak, unintelligible ingredients manuals, and clever labelling practices.”
Here are some extracts to whet your appetite.
Food engineers can now create a ‘natural’ mature cheese flavouring within 72 hours
Joanna: “My growing preoccupation was how little we know about the food that sits on our supermarket shelves, in boxes, cartons.
Over the past few years, the food industry has embarked on an operation it dubs “clean label”, with the goal of removing the most glaring industrial ingredients and additives.”
A factory pantry looks nothing like yours. When the home cook decides to make a Bakewell tart, she or he puts together a lineup of familiar ingredients: raspberry jam, flour, butter, whole eggs, almonds, butter and sugar. The factory food technologist, on the other hand, approaches the tart from a totally different angle: what alternative ingredients can we use to create a Bakewell tart-style product, while replacing or reducing expensive ingredients – those costly nuts, butter and berries? How can we cut the amount of butter, yet boost that buttery flavour, while disguising the addition of cheaper fats? What sweeteners can we add to lower the tart’s blatant sugar content and justify a “reduced calorie” label? How many times can we reuse the pastry left over from each production run in subsequent ones?
What antioxidants could we throw into the mix to prolong the tart’s shelf life? Which enzyme would keep the almond sponge layer moist for longer? Might we use a long-life raspberry purée and gel mixture instead of conventional jam? What about coating the almond sponge layer with an invisible edible film that would keep the almonds crunchy for weeks? Could we substitute some starch for a proportion of the flour to give a more voluminously risen result?
With a food industry obsessed with profit and reducing cost our prediction at BigBarn is that it will not be long before these kind of practices end in another big food scare.
So please beware of ready made processed foods and have fun cooking great fresh food. Use our KIS Cookery videos for inspiration and please add your own.
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