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General Discussion

Clear or unclear on the meaning of "artificial" in foods?


General Discussion 7

Clear or unclear on the meaning of "artificial" in foods?

Bada Bing | Jun 8, 2014 08:19 AM

A new thread to continue conversation on a contested claim that I made in another thread. My claim: "I do think that the term 'artificial,' like 'authentic,' is a rabbit hole. One needs to work from specifics and evidence [before denigrating a food ingredient for being artificial]." (The square-brackets part is added here to clarify meaning.)

I genuinely wonder whether any shared principle can be generated on this question. For example, is dry- or wet-cured ham artificial? Baking soda (which can be mined or manufactured)? MSG? Pickled items? Brisket cured with saltpeter?

Also, I think we might start from an assumption that some people see this as an issue of flavor and/or nutrition while others skew more toward the "health" or ecological end of the spectrum (which can also include nutrition).

CH doesn't want to be a forum for arguments about health, but I think it would be constructive and not over-the-line if people express whether the term "artificial ingredient" is meaningful to them mainly in a health sense (like, "Something loaded with artificial ingredients can taste awesome, but I regard it as unwholesome").

To put my own cards on the table: I'm no purist, but I steer clear of packaged foods with lists of ingredients when many chemical rather than familiar names are totally running the show. Indeed, I don't buy many packaged foods. But I'm also not into being sanctimonious about it. It's just how I roll, because I find most packaged foods to be less appealing in taste.

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