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Toss In or Toss Out the Salad Dressing

written by: dmcrill•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 2/12/2012

Salad dressing has a long history for adding extra flavor to fruits and vegetables. The evolution of this tasty addition has made it easy and convenient to use. But, is it safe for consumption?

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    A Little Herba Salata

    My last article on convenience products was about pre-packaged fruits and vegetables. And what do most people love on their salads? A little or a lot of dressing.

    Salad dressing has a very long history of use dating back 2000 years to the Babylonians. Answers.com http://www.answers.com/salad-dressing has an interesting Webpage about the history of salad dressing and its evolution. Salad dressing has been used by the Greeks and Romans, through ancient Europe with King Henry IV and Mary Queen of Scots and is very popular in present day.

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    What’s In The Bottle

    Most commercial salad dressings contain some type of oil, often soybean, although other oils such as olive, peanut, or sunflower may be used. Salad dressing also can contain vinegars, eggs, salt, honey, lemon, lime, and many other ingredients. Except for the soybean oil, which is controversial, these ingredients don’t sound so bad.

    But, what about the extras added to these products? One of the first to be added to dressings, and most processed food, was MSG. MSG has been on the battlefield of food additives for a long time. It is considered to cause a long list of reactions from headaches to weight gain and it is classified as an excitotoxin in the same category as aspartame. A recent trend in marketing is that MSG is not listed on the contents, but combined ingredients are. This means that MSG is still present, but the name is changed to Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein and others.

    Debby Anglesey has written a book about MSG, http://www.msgmyth.com/. She is adamant that MSG causes a host of physical problems.

    Another Webpage http://www.rense.com/general52/msg.htm discusses a book written by John Erb, research assistant at the University of Waterloo. This is an eye-opening read. He contends, through his research, that MSG is used as an additive product that makes people crave more food. Also, he explains that MSG is used in the scientific world when labs need to make rats fat. They just add MSG to their diet.

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    High Fructose Corn Syrup

    As disturbing as the MSG additive is, another newer additive is high fructose corn syrup. It sounds like a lab experiment gone awry, but the producers decided to go forth with it anyway. The Weston A. Price Foundation has a Webpage that goes into the production of high fructose corn syrup. It’s a complex chemical process. One point that is brought out in this article was an experiment on feeding rats fructose. Their hearts enlarged and actually exploded; not exactly the type of wholesome ingredient you are looking for in a healthy diet.

    Product labels display ingredients by highest volume first. If you read a label and the first ingredient says water, then that is the biggest percentage of the product. From spending a lot of time reading the labels of salad dressings I usually found that high fructose corn syrup is listed second or third on the label. So, the percent of this ingredient is very high.

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    From a Green Family Perspective

    Although the percent of bottles on the market is not clear, many salad dressing bottles are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Besafe.com http://www.besafenet.com/pvc/ explains PVC’s health and environmental impact. PVC releases chemicals such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates into the food they touch and into the air from the time of creation.

    This isn’t to say that many other plastic containers aren’t made from PVC, but with the other evidence on what’s in a bottle of salad dressing, making your own salad dressing is the green thing to do for the environment, for your family’s health, and perhaps as a way to protest against companies that are exposing people to these health risks.

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    Natural Alternatives

    Healthyrecipes.com http://www.healthrecipes.com/healthy_salad_dressings.htm provides some interesting recipes with ingredient like cashew nuts, dill weed, tofu and many raw ingredients for natural salad dressing. Many other sites have recipes for salad dressing, but sometimes call for ingredients like mayonnaise, which also has the MSG and high fructose corn syrup problem.

When Convenience Isn't Convenient

So many products today are sold for their 'convenience' factor. This series explores how convenience isn't always so convenient for the consumer and the green conscious person.
  1. Down and Dirty with Laundry Soap
  2. It’s the Baby Carrot's Fault
  3. Toss In or Toss Out the Salad Dressing





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