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.
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.