Blow-Torch Cheese

Ross Hume Hall, Ph.D.
biochemistry, nutrition,  food technology.

  Unofficial Guide to Smart Nutrition
A Cell's-EyeView
19th Century FDA?
Blow-Torch Cheese
Enriched  Bread?
French Fried Kids
Omega-3 Fats
Trans Fats
Quality Ranking of Food Products
Try a Nutrition Quiz
Savvy Restaurant Eater
The Hormonal Cow
Gene-Modified Crops
Prostate Cancer
Memory Loss
Supplement or Not



Modern food processing is not just home cooking on a larger scale. The modern food factory runs like a chemical factory. Blow-torch cheese shows the kind of foods the industry creates to meet the demands of high-temperature, huge-scale food making.

Attending a food-industry exposition in Atlanta, GA, I walked up to a Kraft Foods booth, intrigued by a sign that said, "Restricted Cheese Sauces". Having never heard the term before, I asked the man standing next to the sign, " What does restricted mean?"

"You can pour one of these sauces over an entree, heat it to 350į F. and it wonít run. It holds its shape."

"You could blow torch it and it wonít melt?"

"Yeah, pretty close."

The Industrial Welsh Rarebit

This is industrial-strength cheese designed for fabricating meals in the factory. Take , for instance, a Welsh Rarebit, a cheese sauce poured over an English muffin. Sounds simple, but try making 100,000 at a time, 25 tons of cheese sauce.

Each serving has to look professional, the right touch of cheese sauce on top--not in a puddle on the side. Factory cooking is not home-cooking on a larger scale. Ingredients like the cheeses you use in the kitchen would turn into a tarry melt in the factory cooker.

A restricted cheese sauce is one of many inventions that simplify life for restaurant chefs. A cheese-topped baked dish or the Welsh Rarebit, mass-produced, is frozen, trucked and stored (for goodness how long) and then thawed to order in the restaurant. 

The entree comes to the table fresh out of the microwave, symmetrically perfect, perhaps with a garnish, giving the impression the chef created your dish from scratch. It tastes fine, you feel fine afterwards. But like  frozen-dough bread, your cells have to contend with a mess of chemical additives and treatments.

Questionable Nutrition

The food technologists have created an oven-proof cheese at a cost of destroying any spirit of nutrition. Your cells will groan and, over time, the continued stress leads to something in the body seizing up whether the bowel or an artery.

You canít tell from labels the provenance of the cheese. If you compare the nutrition label for blow-torch cheese with the label for a naturally produced cheddar, you wonít see much difference, about the same amount of protein, fat and calcium. The Food and Drug Administrationís (FDA's) scientific ability to assess nutritional quality and food safety has lagged far behind the industryís capacity to create new foods.

FDA says as long as the blow-torch cheese delivers protein, fat and calcium it considers the cheese is safe to eat. You as a consumer are unable to tell the difference because the label doesnít disclose the heat-shield capabilities of the cheese. And if you eat in a restaurant, forget it. No labeling is required. Only your sense of taste guides you, at best unreliable.

A Social Revolution in Food and Eating

Blow-torch cheese is an example of social revolution in food and eating. The century of the mobile stomach has arrived. Home cooking has gone the way of the horse and buggy. Foods come in easily opened packages requiring little or no cooking. Just tear and eat.

People graze 24 hours a day through convenience marts, supermarkets, vending machines, delis, and fast-food restaurants. Grazing makes it difficult to judge how much you eat, almost impossible to balance what you eat.

High-tech Foods

This food revolution is driven by an industry eager to exploit the desire for instant gratification of hunger pangs. But at a price.

Instant foods have to undergo chemical hardening against spoilage, which undercuts the foodís basic nutrition. Moreover, hardening disables traditional ways--protein percentage, fat grams, etc.--of judging nutritional quality.

The Unchanging Human Body

So what does the food revolution mean to you? You have the same old human body handed down through ancestral genes. Food quality changes, but basic human needs do not. And thereís the rub.

All those diet-related diseases and ballooning waists are tell-tale signs that Americans choose foods that do not fulfill the bodyís basic needs.

The Purpose of the Smart Nutrition Guide

The food system is remarkably diverse, from the mediocre to the superb. We need a much better way of assessing and choosing what we eat. Describing food products in terms of number of calories or number of fat grams or percentage of protein doesn't work with modern food products..

These numbers tell you nothing of what the food is going to do when it lands in your body. Will it supply steady energy or instead a big spike followed by an empty fuel tank? Will the food supply body building blocks? Will the food because it isn't much good for fuel or building blocks be dumped into fat?

Smart Nutrition Guide provides a brand a new and realistic way of looking at foods.

©  Copyright 2001, Ross Hume Hall. All rights reserved.

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