To Buy or to Grate

220px-Saw_dust_(Zaagsel)

Does that whet your appetite?  Maybe if the Pioneer Woman or Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted it then it possibly could look a little more appetizing??  I don’t think so.  I don’t think any amount of amazing photography or food eloquence could make us excited to eat wood pulp, yet you have probably eaten more recently than you realize.

Have you ever noticed that pre-shredded cheese doesn’t taste the same as cheese freshly shredded at home?  In fact, nowhere near as good?  My sisters and I were commenting about that one time at my parents house and my dad responded that perhaps we should read the ingredients on our bag of preshredded cheese and we would find out why.  The answer?  Calcium sulfate, Cellulose, and Silica–essentially plaster, wood, and sand.  Getting hungry yet?  They put them there to prevent the cheese from drying out or from clumping together and though said not to be dangerous in small amounts, is that really want you want to put in your body??

cheese

And cheese is not the only packaged food out there feeding us this wood pulp–the use of cellulose by the food industry is on the rise.  They use it to thicken or stabilize foods, replace fat and boost fiber content, and cut the need for ingredients like oil or flour, which are getting more expensive.  It is commonly used in low-fat versions of foods to make them creamier.  So sad because I was really excited about those low-fat ice creams.  You can find a larger list of some specific foods with cellulose here.

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article I found when I got curious about these additives, and I also saw a blogger’s take on that article that you can peruse if you are curious about things that you are perhaps unknowingly putting into your body.  This form of cellulose is apparently very different from that naturally found in foods like fruits and vegetables that provide a good source of fiber.  It is indigestible by humans, created in a lab, and can sometimes have acid added to it to help break it down.

Again, not that appealing.  But maybe you don’t care about chemicals and cancer…just grate your cheese yourself because it tastes better!!

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