Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Refined Sugar: A Scary Discovery

Just when you thought all your herbs and spices were free of hidden sugars, look again.

I'm livid. I just found sugar where I never would have dreamed it would be: in pepper. Garlic pepper, to be exact. My husband buys our spices and experiments with them nightly. Our homemade pasta sauces are spicy and exquisite. Garlic pepper just happens to be one of the organic, high quality spices he brought home months ago. I've been using it regularly on my homemade sweet potato fries. I learned a long time ago to check the ingredients of salt, but it never occurred to me to look at the ingredients of pepper.

Last night I doctored up my batch of sweet potato fries with garlic pepper and noticed strange clumps of pepper. I wondered if this "fresh" brand of garlic pepper goes bad quickly. Then I noticed a tiny dried, green herb that I had not noticed before. That was a surprise. I had never looked closely at the bottle of garlic pepper before, but when I did I noticed a lot of the dried green herb. Funny, the bottle was just labled, "Garlic Pepper". When I examined the bottle for an ingredients list, I discovered this:

Ingredients: organic garlic, spices (organic black pepper and organic parsley), sea salt, organic onion, organic cane sugar, silicon dioxide (an anti-caking agent).

The product brand is called "Simply Organic" and the company is one of my favorite organic spice suppliers, Frontier. This company supplies many health food stores with their supply of bulk herbs and spices.

As has happened before over the last two years, my heart sank. Not only have I been eating it, it is a sad reminder that nothing is exempt from the possibility of having sugar added to it. Now when Jeff and I look for spices, we will have to bring a magnifying glass to read the tiny ingredients on each bottle.

Not only is this a tedious task (reading the labels on every grocery purchase can literally take hours) but this indicates a scary trend. It seems like every company recognizes the "value" of adding sugar to its products--it will taste better than its competitor's product. Organic, "high quality", expensive brands are apparently not exempt from lowering their standards to include sugar. If someone wants to add a sweetener to their food, it should be their choice. We should not have to strain our eyes for hidden sugars where they might be sneaked in.


Kirin Bir said...

I'm not surprised. I mean, table salt has sugar in it (dextrose), so anything with salt as an ingredient (except sea salt or Himalayan salt) should have sugar in it as well. Just because it's vegan, organic, gluten free, macrobiotic, fair trade, etc etc, doesn't mean it's not junk food.

Kat said...

Oh, how disappointed you must be! And how sucky this is! This is just one more example of how unhealthy our culture has become. It seems like it's almost impossible to find things without refined sugar in them. I'm sorry that you were set back this way.

'Drea said...

It's just so unnecessary and I would never think to look for sugar in pepper.

Pam said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by! You have a very nice blog and Happy Holidays!


K.Rae said...

How frustrating!

I've resolved to give up sugar (at least for January, we'll see how far I take it), and I've realized that the place I go to get salads at lunch probably uses sugar in their vinaigrettes. I don't want to ask for an ingredients list...but I don't want to become that woman who carries salad dressing in their purse. Sigh.

Shanti said...

Ugh! Thanks for the heads up. I'm going to have to keep my eyes peeled now. =(

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

thanks for stopping by my blog and when i am not bleary eyed tired, i plan to read more aabout yours...i couldnt imagine life without sugar b/c I admit, I am a high raw all vegan girl but I love my agave, stevia, etc. I even love white sugar. Clearly that's not raw :) But anyawy, you're an inspiration to us all!

Ann.Marcella said...

This is so crazy! My brother has an allergy to corn, and of course, corn syrup is in everything, under myriad of names!! But spices!?! Really, nothing is safe!

Just thought I'd let you know that I just started reading your blog, and I love it! As a college student, it's ridiculous to see my friens not thinking about what they put in their bodies! Although it's not my major, nutrition and natural ingredients are a huge hobby of mine! Keep up the good work!! :)

My Year Without said...

Thanks for the encouragement, everybody! I just can't get over how silly it is that we are dealing with having sugar in our pepper!

K.Rae-As far as those salad dressings go, try asking for just plain olive oil or balsamic vinegar. I know the feeling of not even wanting to know, but once you do know you'll get more creative with your options and hopefully feel empowered! I would love to know how your month without sugar goes. I'll be here for any help that you might need!

Angela said...

I just happened to look at the label of a jar of "Pure Vanilla Powder" in my cupboard, and found that the first ingredient is maltodextrose. What?! What does "pure" mean, then?