Things that make me angry

(Note – to read the label information on the photos below, click on the pictures – you will be shown a larger, readable version.)

Some of the stuff that we habitually eat can easily be classed as “not real food”. Is it highly processed? Does it contain a lot of assorted emulsifiers and preservatives and flavorings and….. Yeah. That kind of stuff. Not food, though not exactly poisonous. But there are different levels –

There I was, innocently shopping for groceries. Now, my husband likes sliced American processed cheese on hamburgers – the standard cheeseburger. And we were nearly out of the stuff.

And then I saw this, in the dairy case, between the sliced American cheese (cheese product, cheese food, and so on) and the regular cheddar. If you were tired or distracted or in a hurry, you could easily grab it assuming it was cheese, or near-cheese.

Let’s look at the nutritional labels:

American processed cheese

“Sandwich slices” (By the way – where did I get these pictures? I was irritated enough to buy a package, one time, to scan the labels to use in this post.)

Notice particularly the protein and calcium values. (Again, click on the pictures to see them in big-enough-to-read size.) Oh, the calcium values. Would you want to feed this to your children assuming it was more or less equivalent to milk? Didn’t think so.

So what the heck is it? Basically, water-and-oil jello, with some cornstarch and potato starch for extra thickening. Remember, the ingredients are listed in order from largest to smallest quantity. It claims to contain “milk”, but the only milk derivative I see in the list of ingredients is “whey”. And what’s whey, anyway? It seems that it’s a by-product of making cheese – a watery liquid that’s drained away while the milk is solidified into cheese.

Clever marketing. Take the leftovers from cheesemaking, add some even cheaper ingredients to thicken the mess until it looks sort of cheese like, put a vague label on it – and then sell it among real or realish cheeses.

True, if you pause to look the label over carefully, you won’t be fooled. So I guess this is legal. It still doesn’t seem very honest.

And that makes me angry.

13 responses to “Things that make me angry

  1. That’a how they do it, and in this day and age where every penny counts soemthing cheaper looks better than ever.

    • You’re right! In this case, the sort-of-real cheese was $4.69 for 24 slices, or about 20 cents per slice, and the jellied oily water was only $1 for 16 slices – just over 6 cents a slice. It looks like a good deal until you read the fine print on the back and side of the package.

      Although, if you take your healthy suspicion along to the store, you’ll start by asking yourself “Sandwich Slices? Slices of WHAT?” and then notice that the front of the package admits that it’s “imitation” food. But everybody has days when you’re too tired or rushed to pay attention.

      I don’t mind stores selling imitation stuff to people on special diets, but it should be shelved well away from the real thing.

  2. I can’t believe how many people grow up without it crossing their minds that this isn’t actually cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good slice of “cheese food product” as much as the next person, especially on cheeseburgers, but I’d never fool myself into thinking it was anything other than unsustainably packaged slices of edible plastic.

    • Yeah – honestly, both items in this post aren’t exactly real food, but the “process cheese” comes a lot closer. (If you misplace a package of in the refrigerator, it will eventually grow mold 😉 – but I bet the “Sandwich Slices Imitation Pasteurized Process Cheese Food” would stay pristine all the way to when the sun blows up into a red dwarf.)

      And I will admit to remembering back when I actually liked Velveeta. We all do stupid things when we’re little.

      • I’m ashamed to admit I’ve actually eaten a few boxes of Velveeta during this pregnancy. I’d never tried it before in my life, but the picture on the box was enough. I can’t say I’d enjoy it when my hormones are back to normal.

    • It must have a decent amount of calcium in it, then. I’ve never been a milk drinker, except when I was pregnant. Then I couldn’t get enough of the stuff.

  3. You can buy stuff like that here but I can’t imagine doing so when we have the most delicious real cheese in a thousand varieties!

    • Oh, we have around about six gajillion varieties of real cheese too! “American processed” is popular with children and people who don’t much like strongly flavored food, and it is convenient for cheeseburgers – drapes over the patty nicely and melts instead of sliding off. (But IMO it tastes disgusting.)

      As for the sliced water jelly, I suspect the appeal there is price – it is very cheap – combined with assuming that if it’s located among the cheeses, and it looks cheeselike, it must be cheese. 😛

  4. If that makes you angry then whatever you do, don’t read about what’s killing our birds and bees,

    • Problems like this are the reason I try to buy organic food when possible. Unfortunately, there are just too many problems for any one person to take on all of them. 😦 😦 😦 (Another reason why the dogma of extreme individualism is just silly.)

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