The desire to eat “sweet food” usually leads consumers into taking in some poisonous substances. It also results to food vendors and caterers boosting their sales and market, sometimes making them popular.

Consumers hardly make an attempt to enquire on some ingredients used in preparing food to make them taste “sweet” as they prefer. They hardly make any research on flavour enhancers or food additives used in preparing “sweet foods”.

Having worked in the food catering industry, I have been privy to what goes into food to make it “sweet” to spark high consumer demand. Many vegetables and natural spices blended into our soups and stews are sometimes substituted with some synthetically derived food additives.

Apart from the focus on taste or flavour to attract more customers , vendors and caterers also aim at maximizing their profits since these enhancers used are cheaper than the natural spices needed.

What went wrong with our natural spices like ginger, garlic, onions, bay leaves, peppercorn, nutmeg, celery seeds (nkitinkiti) and rosemary? We have gradually substituted these healthy foods with Monosodium glutamate (MSG) amidst others which rather has lesser or no health benefits at all.

I find it quite difficult eating from anywhere outside my home. This is not because I feel I can cook better. It is for the fear of taking in these additives which may be detrimental to my health.

As an advocate for healthy foods and healthy eating habits, I’ve learnt that, what we eat makes us or kills us and that gives me a strong urge not to compromise on what I take in.

Once, I was a cook and a supervisor of a canteen of one institution. Customers’ patronage declined at a point and returns grew lower. When we sought to find what could be wrong, we were hit with complaints that our food isn’t “sweet” enough.

Customers told us about their new discovery – another canteen- that sells sweet food where they were buying from at the time. I remember my boss becoming worried and desperate to break even.

She asked we do whatever it took to make our food sweet too, just to attract our customers back. It didn’t matter if it involved adding more artificially synthesized additives at the expense of the natural spices we were using. That was when I walked out of that job. I wasn’t going to use a recipe that could cause health problems to people.

While our natural spices gives us benefits such as stress reliefs, prevention of cold or flu and bloating, boosting immunity, easy digestion, weight loss, cancer prevention among others, we can’t say same for their chemical counterparts.

MSG and textured protein may provide very little benefits to the human body system. Gelatin and sodium caseinate may also cause allergic reactions and contribute to numbness, facial pressure, general weakness, headaches, drowsiness, diarrhoea, chest pains, burning sensations and in asthmatic patients, cause difficulty in breathing.

The choice is ours to make. to go in for health benefits or for “sweetness”. It is expected that our busy schedules may suggest these additives and flavour enhancers or not permit us to cook our own foods at all. But it is worthy to note what you eat makes or kills you! Make a wise choice.

 

By: Vera Eyram Awo

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