Monday, August 15, 2011

Food Fillers and Fiber for Fodder

Do you eat paper?
Tree bark?
Chances are, you do.

Last week the Tumbleweeds had a trailer full of very large, white rolls of what we thought was paper.  We often haul paper like this, to be made into paper towels, newsprint, toilet tissue; you know normal paper products.

We picked up these rolls at the port in Newark, New Jersey, they had come from France on a container ship.  Wondering why we would need to import fancy French paper ('cause if it's French, it's fancy!™)* to wipe our nether regions with, we asked for what purpose would the paper be used.  The reply: a food additive.

It is called Biofloc and is made by Tembec, a fancy French company.  Virgin trees are turned into wood pulp, aka cellulose, then processed into very thin sheets of white paper-ish stuff in Tartas, France**.  It is then sold to food manufacturers and they, with various chemicals and mashing about, turn it into a magical ingredient in milk shakes and macaroni and cheese.  Yum-o right?

Newark, NJ port. I'm sure it's illegal to
take a picture at a port, but I
risk my life for this blog.
Your welcome.

Apparently, cellulose is common in foods that are labeled reduced-fat and high-fiber.  It adds fiber to processed foods that might not otherwise have any and the cellulose has water-absorbing properties that can mimic fat, so manufacturers can reduce real fat that is used in their products.

My first reaction was, ewww, I'm eating wood?!  And then I thought, well really, what's the big deal? A tree is just a plant, like broccoli, only bigger and more vertical.  So is it really a big deal?  One could argue, that since I have eaten Spam recently, I have no right to get all uppity about food.

I was curious if we had any wood pulp products in the truck and didn't find any; however, we did have Fiber One™ Chewy Bars (35% RDA of fiber!) and the first ingredient in them is chicory root extract.  Huh.  Now I have to look that up too?

Chicory root extract is sometimes labeled as inulin and it's also found in bananas and garlic.  Food manufacturers have found a way to manipulate the chemical structure of inulin to mimic the taste and textures of other foods, kind of like in Terminator 13 where that creepy cop could turn his hand into a machine gun or a hammer.

So, wood pulp in my Frosty™ and Terminator-morphing sci-fi food in my granola bars, great.  What's next?  Pretty soon, they'll have a man on the moon.  Oh, wait.  The Space Program was canceled.  Way to go US Government, now we'll never be able to get at all that cheese.  Way. To. Go.

Liberace Rabbit and Meow Meow, hitting the sauce.
They were planning on marrying astronauts.

* I just found the key for that little symbol today.  So excited! 

** I would like to have inserted a bit of trivia here about Tartas, France but I got stuck in a French/internet worm-hole and gave up before my head exploded.  All I could find is that a: Tartas is in the south-west of France and b: Charlemagne once drank some water there in a fountain.



  2. Glen, I threw that in just for you. Let it go man!

  3. I understand the thought and reasoning for putting this paper product in food but there is still something about it I find unsettling. It's very similar to how I feel about our local TV news team.

  4. Christian, I have to agree. It's too bad the local tv news people don't have Terminator hands though. The news could be so much more interesting.

  5. Guess I could've swallowed all those spitballs I threw in grammar school, huh

  6. Doug, you would have been way ahead of your time! Too bad you didn't try to market your spitballs, you'd be a rich man now!!

  7. yeah...i guess it's a good thing that with ALL that pulp we get in our bodies...our *poop* doesn't come out all boxed up with ribbons. ouch.

  8. You pretty much said what i could not effectively communicate. +1

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  9. Laura, well, then you could box up your "special" gift!!

  10. I thought Dr. Who was from Tartas....

    Rolls of paper as an ingredient in food. Seems like it should be imported from China. Go figure.

  11. Elly Lou, if that's all that the French Tartas has to offer, I think I'll take my chances in the TARDIS. Thanks for riding along!!

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  13. At what point does "modern" man become a non-entity?? Yesterday we went to a farmer's market & brought home chard, beets, beans & tomatoes - the REAL deals... but then, I'm a consumate label-reader and refuse most foods with a lot of additives, foreign origins, etc. Somehow, part of my milkshake (or whatever...) arriving in a large roll via France does not appeal to me at all. Laura said it best - "you want that gift-wrapped?" Regularity is fine, but not at just any cost - I don't THINK so!

  14. I don't know why but this completely grossed me out. I've never been one to chomp down on paper and when I did (by complete accident of course) it kind of made me gack just a little. And it's in my Mac N' Cheese! Oh the humanity.
    Anyway, love reading your blog I just don't comment nearly enough. Oh and just noticed you had a photo of one of our local statues called "Interstate" on your blog. It's the one that looks a bit like Wonder Woman driving her invisible convertible. What? You know she has's not like she can take the jet to the grocery store or anything.

  15. Ladybug, Real food, I'm soooo jealous!! We don't get nearly enough of that on the road. Truck stop restaurants are meat and potatoes places and most don't even offer a vegetable, fresh or otherwise! Glad to see you got your picture back!!

    Christina, That statue DOES look like that!! And of course, even Wonder Woman has to be practical, a jet at the grocery store would be silly. Good point. Thanks for commenting and I'm glad to have you riding along!

  16. Ok commenting again because I just noticed you also had a picture of that horrible freddy krueger hands that flank I-80/I-29 in my city. I concur that they are awful but you posted pictures of other places that were pretty awesome and frankly those statues are hideous. When I brought up how terrible they were someone had the nerve to tell me "Art is subjective." Whatever. They look like giant metal cats hacked up giant metal hair balls. Anyway, next time you mosey on through there feel free to give me a honk and give those ugly things the finger.

  17. Christina, every time we go through there I feel like stabbing myself! It definitely gives Council Bluffs some, um, uniqueness!


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