Putting the “real” back into food

Putting the “real” back into food

For a restaurant I was opening recently, I really wanted to get back to the basics with the dishes and ingredients. My dad grew up on a farm and as a consequence our small yard grew everything from avocados, asparagus and apples to three types of stone fruit grafted onto the same tree. During tomato and boysenberry season, we ate tomatoes and fresh berries at every meal. I?m sure I?m not alone in saying that I want to taste real food again.

I recently read an article titled, ?New Oxidation Management System Extends Shelf-Life of Frying Oils.? It discussed the SyneROX HT Oxidation Management System, which is a liquid, all-natural formulation that can easily be applied to a frying oil prep tank. It is classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe. Under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) in the U.S. market and is considered a natural flavor by the FDA.

This article got me thinking how manufacturers sometimes obscure the frightful names of ingredients with acronyms. I started to do a little research of my own. A few other examples I came across include Butylated Hydroxyanisol (BHA), which is used as an antioxidant to prevent fats and oils from spoiling, and DES, or diethylstilbestrol, which is a growth hormone used principally for cattle. Some such products have been banned in Europe and England but are still approved by the FDA in the U.S. because they promote rapid growth or extended periods of milk production.

Therein lies one of the issues. There is a high demand to produce foods quickly and accommodate the rapidly growing populations around the world. Recent headlines read that Russian wheat production was so poor that they were keeping the crops for themselves and not exporting. There is an incentive to ?create? better foods and to extend life on the shelf, or in transit. 

In response, chefs around the world are beginning to focus on the best food they can produce from seasonal products and local providers. More frequently in the hotel industry, I see chefs trying to come up with exotic dishes and impress the guest with uncommon ingredients. This is no longer ?en vogue?. Now, consumers are looking for real and simple.  I think we will see more and more of a shift from processed foods or foods that have been ?altered? to natural and simple ingredients ? that we can pronounce!