Wood for Sheep
February 17, 2016 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Castle Cheese has been found to be doctoring its “100 percent parmesan” with fillers that include wood pulp. Or…more wood pulp than is typically allowed by the USDA. Even more startling, some of the grated "parmesan" included no parmesan at all. “The tipping point was grated cheese, where less than 40 percent of the product was actually a cheese product.”
posted by blurker (204 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
That's why I grate my own off a block of Parmesano Reggiano. Also, tastes so much better.
posted by conic at 2:59 PM on February 17, 2016 [13 favorites]


And isn't "cheese product" a technical term meaning "not cheese" anyway?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Can't wait for TTIP to come in so this bullshit can be foisted on us here too.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2016 [15 favorites]


"Cellulose is a safe additive, and an acceptable level is 2 percent to 4 percent"
named brands:
Market Pantry
"Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese", from Jewel-Osco,
Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese
Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s "Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese"
Kraft
Whole Foods 365 brand
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:02 PM on February 17, 2016 [12 favorites]


I mean, to be fair, they did mention 'subtle woody notes'.
posted by Itaxpica at 3:03 PM on February 17, 2016 [44 favorites]


That's why I grate my own off a block of Parmesano Reggiano. Also, tastes so much better.

Try a piece of Locatelli Pecorino, and you'll never go back to Parmesan.
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:04 PM on February 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


To be fair, the cheese is still '100% Grated'.
posted by damo at 3:06 PM on February 17, 2016 [53 favorites]


That's why I grate my own off a block of Parmesano Reggiano. Also, tastes so much better.

Sometimes I do this!

Other times I skip the grating step and just eat big chunks of it. Mmmm.

To be fair, the cheese is still '100% Grated'.

Well, 100% pulverized anyway.
posted by aubilenon at 3:06 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


This stuff is just the end result of letting companies dictate food safety laws. The same arguments against GM labeling are pretty much applicable here, for instance. There's no evidence that eating wood pulp is bad for you, and it unnecessarily hurts companies to add food labeling that informs consumers that they are eating wood pulp. Now hush and eat your wood pulp.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:07 PM on February 17, 2016 [42 favorites]


First olive oil, now parmesan? Mi fa cagare!
posted by gwint at 3:09 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


FWIW, you eat cellulose in tons of processed foods. Milkshakes, cheese, meats, tons and tons of foods.

slate article, for example
Didn't you want more fiber?
posted by Lame_username at 3:12 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


Among the things of value that Samuel Pepys buried in his garden during the Great London Fire was a wheel of "Parmazan cheese."


I think what I'm trying to say is that people who adulterate Parmesan should get the bubonic plague.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:13 PM on February 17, 2016 [20 favorites]


The "wood pulp in your cheese" framing of this is so hyperbolic. Sure, cellulose is found in wood pulp, but it also happens to be found in every fucking vegetable on earth. Laws regarding product identity need to be refined and enforced, but trying to stir up outrage with headlines about wood pulp in your cheese is dishonest at best.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:14 PM on February 17, 2016 [58 favorites]


1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: I want to serve this to the men. Taste it and let me know what you think.
[Yossarian takes a bite]
Yossarian: What is it?
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: Chocolate-covered cotton.
Yossarian: What are you, crazy?
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: No good, huh?
Yossarian: For Christ's sake, you didn't even take the seeds out!
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: Is it really that bad?
Yossarian: It's cotton!
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: They've got to learn to like it!
posted by notyou at 3:15 PM on February 17, 2016 [35 favorites]


I'm opposed to claiming food is something it isn't, and I don't eat "parmesan" from a can if I can help it, but I wish they'd stop pommeling the "wood pulp" aspect of this story. Cellulose is "an insoluble substance that is the main constituent of plant cell walls and of vegetable fibers such as cotton." What's happened is that they've stretched their adulterated product with plant matter. That it comes from trees is pretty much meaningless, and every single headline about this stupid story ("Breaking news: Cheap parmesan isn't really parmesano reggiano!") has made it sound like they're putting factory-floor sawdust in our food.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:17 PM on February 17, 2016 [36 favorites]


First olive oil, now parmesan? Mi fa cagare!

I was just finishing up a cheap store-brand lunch of spaghetti with olive oil and grated parmesan when I saw this.

Now I wonder if even the spaghetti was fake.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 3:17 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


tell me about it. i just had a deep existential crisis over a bowl of genuine diamond flavoured italian ramen

not sure if i am real anymore
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:22 PM on February 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


I always buy Kraft parmesan. Please tell me the Kraft stuff is ok.
posted by zardoz at 3:23 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Do you people have any idea how awkward it is to grate your own tree onto pasta?

Protip: You can use pencil shavings. That way you can get some notes of graphite and interesting presentation as well.
posted by srboisvert at 3:25 PM on February 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


If it makes you guys feel any better, '100 Percent Parmesan' is also the name of a privately contracted military grade drone manufacturer just outside of Dearborn, Michigan.
posted by jimmythefish at 3:27 PM on February 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


I always buy Kraft parmesan. Please tell me the Kraft stuff is ok.

It always leaves me feeling a little deflated.
posted by jimmythefish at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Please tell me the Kraft stuff is ok.

um
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2016 [21 favorites]


Protip: You can use pencil shavings. That way you can get some notes of graphite and interesting presentation as well.

I understand Ticonderoga pairs well with marinara.
posted by conic at 3:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


As long as all the wood originated in Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Modena, or Mantua I don't see what the problem is.
posted by ckape at 3:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [30 favorites]


a lungful of dragon: Now hush and eat your wood pulp.

If you wash it down with some Flint water, you may actually shit a pencil.
posted by dr_dank at 3:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [119 favorites]


You know who wouldn't stand for this shit? France.
posted by indubitable at 3:30 PM on February 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


Are we talking about that dry shaker cheese that smells of sick? Or have new and more appetising forms of pregrated parmesan been invented?
posted by howfar at 3:32 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


60% vegan cheese!
posted by FallowKing at 3:38 PM on February 17, 2016 [18 favorites]


A lot of shredded cheese (all kinds), Kraft included you buy at the grocery store has cellulose in it. Just read the ingredients. It's there because it helps keep the bits from clumping up and squishing together into balls.

We do shred at my factory without cellulose and I can see why it's normal for grocery store brands to have it in it. You have to be extra careful in packing it, any amount of pressure on the package equals potential balling and with softer cheeses it even more difficult to keep the shred, shred.

The reason we can do it is that most of shred goes to food service and is shipped and used really quickly.

And yes as others has already said the whole eating wood! thing is really stupid as it's in all vegetables.

However using more then allowed or claimed as an extender is fraud.
posted by Jalliah at 3:39 PM on February 17, 2016 [53 favorites]


We should get rid of government oversight of cheese companies, because I never wanted to know this.
posted by OwlBoy at 3:39 PM on February 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


Actually sorry I wrote wrong. The cellulose isn't necessarily in the cheese, it's on the outside, like you would use a powder to keep things from sticking together.
posted by Jalliah at 3:41 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Market Pantry
"Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese", from Jewel-Osco,
Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese
Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s "Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese"
Kraft


Look where they're shopping. Don't they love their children? Let them eat cellulose.

Whole Foods 365 brand

Unthinkable! Intolerable! Will no one stop these brigands?!
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:44 PM on February 17, 2016 [18 favorites]


Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese ,
you might run out of wood putty during an important project.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:46 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ok, well, I can't be the only person who grew up around grate-your-own-cheese purists and has been pleasantly surprised at the taste of canned parmesan and preshredded cheddar? It's just as cheesy and delicious as the real stuff to my (apparently undiscerning) palate.

I don't eat enough vegetables anyways, so if anything, I probably need more cellulose. I'll be more worried when they find evidence of something that's actually, you know, dangerous.
posted by R a c h e l at 3:48 PM on February 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


Chunks of actual Parmigiano Reggiano are not difficult to come by, AND (wait, hold up, I know what you're going to say) they last a long-ass time in the fridge.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:48 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


evidence of something that's actually, you know, dangerous.
Like bacteria. Or acid.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:48 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you wash it down with some Flint water, you may actually shit a pencil.

Yes but would you then sit, or stand, to wipe with an eraser?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:50 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


Or just sign your name
posted by ardgedee at 3:52 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thank you Kitchen Aid mixer grater attachment.

Thank you.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:53 PM on February 17, 2016


I'll recommend Costco's Kirkland shredded parmesan. Unlike a lot of brands, it actually smells like parmesan.
posted by ryanrs at 3:54 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am so suggestible that I am now just straight eating off a wedge of parm. Confound this thread.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:00 PM on February 17, 2016 [22 favorites]


they last a long-ass time in the fridge.

In YOUR fridge.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:01 PM on February 17, 2016 [21 favorites]


Here are the FDA standards of identity for grated "parmesan" (i.e. american parm-type cheese), with anti-caking agents like powdered cellulose addressed in paragraph (C)(2).

It's all pretty much business as usual for mainstream american cheese, until you have manufacturers adding unacceptable levels of anti-caking agents (turning the cellulose into a de facto filler), or using ingredients that aren't part of the standard of identity (or ingredients that aren't listed in the ingredient dec). Thankfully, these things are illegal, and we have plenty of laws in place to deal with them. It looks like someone[s] goofed this big time, but it has fuck all to do with wood pulp.

[back in the day, I spent a few years doing food supply chain sourcing/auditing/traceability, and let me tell you that this is the least of your concerns...]
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:02 PM on February 17, 2016 [17 favorites]


The use of wood flour in american cheese products is something which limits our capacity to export food; it is not allowed as an additive in most of the middle east, or the E.U. It is important to note that lumber-derived cellulose may indeed be non-toxic, but it is also indigestible.

When people actively seek out indigestible substances to consume as food, that behavior fits diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder, Pica. Here we have a culprit who was apprehended for the crime of placing too much indigestible matter into food. It is extremely strange that we, as a society, have determined that it is lawful for food processors to engage in a behavior which is indicative of mental illness, so that their jobs are slightly easier or more lucrative.

The problem is that their work also becomes easier and more lucrative to cause harm for the general public, and the Castle Cheese case demonstrates that unambiguously. Therefore, the United States Food and Drug Administration should change their guidelines to remove cellulose as an acceptable ingredient in cheese.

Certain types of economic activity become safer and cheaper when they are socialized. Water and electricity are the most common examples, and that is because innovation is so expensive that competition only creates an incentive for fraud. In my opinion, cheesemaking also fits in this category because it is easy to adulterate, and has to be aged for about 24 months before it is safe for the average, lactose-intolerant person to consume. The cost of enforcing basic quality standards is thus so expensive that it is safer and less expensive to put cheesemakers on the government payroll.

Lastly, it should be noted that cellulose is not the only effective drying, or anti-clumping, agent which can be applied to grated cheese. Most of the vegan protein powders used in non-dairy cheese will also suffice; dry casein or salt will provide the best flavor. If an aspiring genetic engineer would like to design a lactobacillus species which can also metabolize xylose and cellulose, thereafter may we revisit the notion of putting wood flour into cheese.
posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 4:04 PM on February 17, 2016 [13 favorites]


I can't help but think they're going about this all wrong. Cheese is just spoiled dairy products, right? Instead of fibbing about the wood pulp, they should market this stuff by saying, "NOW! with 10% LESS spoiled dairy products!" I mean, this is America for God's sake, people eat those bright pink Sno-Balls. Nobody cares what's IN anything, we just don't like to feel like we're being tricked.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:09 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Or, in the real world, eating indigestible substances is really important.
posted by cromagnon at 4:11 PM on February 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


It is extremely strange that we, as a society, have determined that it is lawful for food processors to engage in a behavior which is indicative of mental illness, so that their jobs are slightly easier or more lucrative.

Yeah, this is the sort of batshit reaction I'm talking about. Why on earth are we dragging mental illness into a discussion of food safety/integrity??
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:12 PM on February 17, 2016 [22 favorites]


And isn't "cheese product" a technical term meaning "not cheese" anyway?

Cheese product still contains a minimum threshold of actual cheese which varies by the kind of cheese you're talking about. The rest can be water, emulsifiers, colorings, salt, etc.

Something that's not cheese, like what you'd find on a cheap frozen pizza, legally has to be labeled as "imitation" -- "imitation mozzarella" or "imitation cheese blend (imitation mozzarella (..), imitation cheddar (…))".
posted by nathan_teske at 4:13 PM on February 17, 2016


Aw heck everyone needs fiber
posted by kinnakeet at 4:14 PM on February 17, 2016


Cromagnon, you are not being astute about the sugar chemistry. Wood flour is xylose and lignocellulose, it is not the same thing as the galactomannans you get from eating an apple. Calling everything "dietary fiber" is a fallacious misnomer.

>Yeah, this is the sort of batshit reaction I'm talking about. Why on earth are we dragging mental illness into a discussion of food safety/integrity??

Because wood flour is about as nutritious as clay or chalk.
posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 4:15 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


And as harmful. Wood flour may not have nutritional value, but pica and mental illness has nothing to do with the matter at hand.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:19 PM on February 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


...I read about this whole thing yesterday and managed to completely miss that we were talking about the dried, shelf-stable shit. I have managed to avoid it so completely in my adult life that I thought we were talking about this, which I do buy.

I first paid attention to anti-caking agents in cheese when I had to proofread a book about "making changes and living well" by some woman who clearly had some form of orthorexia (speaking of mental illness). She framed the inclusion of cellulose in much the same way that it's framed here (OMG wood pulp in your cheese!). Shredded cheese is basically my main source of caloric intake so the next time I was at the store I checked the ingredients of the brand I buy and saw that it contained potato starch, which is basically fine by me.
posted by sunset in snow country at 4:19 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Parmesan is wood pulp?? Ahhhh! He got me again!!
posted by Servo5678 at 4:20 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


food-style substance
posted by Sebmojo at 4:22 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


>And as harmful. Wood flour may not have nutritional value, but pica and mental illness has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

So you are of the opinion that nausea and diarrhea are not forms of harm?
That is ironic, because those conditions are symptoms of food poisoning.

I found a documented case like this one in the psychiatry literature. For those of you who do not know, paper is also made of wood-derived cellulose!

It does not make any sense for us to address this issue as something other than xylophagia, because people are eating xylose.
posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 4:22 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


For the record, a box and a stick and a string and a bear- you do not personally deserve to suffer from nausea or diarrhea; but you should be more willing to classify those conditions as forms of harm.
posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 4:24 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


This cheese probably goes well with painted green olives.
posted by pibeandres at 4:25 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I eat a lot of dried fruit. I'm sure there are people with disordered eating habits regarding dried fruit. I don't think those eating disorders are in any way relevant to my food choices, or the legality of my food choices.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:28 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Are you part of some militant group of termites committed to taking on the obesogenic environment one cheese product at a time?
posted by cromagnon at 4:28 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Shoot, when I was a kid and we were po', that shit was as good as eaten with the generic label p'sketti and sauce we had to eat. That little green Kraft can was. A. Godsend. It made me feel like we weren't quite so bad off, that every so often we could get some "cheese" like I was sure Italians ate their spaghetti with. Nevermind that the can itself would've probably done just as well, green foil included.

I've not had any of that stuff since I was 12. I can afford to pay for the real stuff on my own now, and get it at an actual cheesemonger's once in a while (Yes, even in the Bronx! There's an excellent grocery store near the homestead with lots of terrific cheese!). I read the ingredients on that Kraft can at 12, and stopped eating it; this after having learned in school that paper was made of cellulose.
posted by droplet at 4:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I get what MisplaceDisgrace is on about. If a friend started snacking on sawdust or suggested that I sprinkle it on my spaghetti I would definitely consider that person to be unhinged.
posted by w0mbat at 4:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Think of all the wood pulp factory jobs that will be lost to China if we allow silly food safety laws to be enforced. LETS MAKE AMERICA GRATE AGAIN.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [21 favorites]


Well, you can eat the cheap shit fake Parmesan, which turns out to have wood products as filler. Or you can get the good real stuff, which it turns out is an industry heavily targeted by the Mafia in Italy.

Italian Mafia hits cheese makers

Gang lifts 785K euros of Parmesan
posted by C.A.S. at 4:31 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


>I eat a lot of dried fruit. I'm sure there are people with disordered eating habits regarding dried fruit. I don't think those eating disorders are in any way relevant to my food choices, or the legality of my food choices.

That sounds like a box and a stick and a string and a bear are changing the subject to binge eating disorder. You should also read up on the difference between xylose and galactomannans. Unless you are eating fruit peels exclusively, dried fruit and wood flour are not comparable products.

>Are you part of some militant group of termites committed to taking on the obesogenic environment one cheese product at a time?

And it sounds like you are making an absurdist ad hominem attack to cover for the fact that you lost the scientific part of the argument.
posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 4:32 PM on February 17, 2016


I get what MisplaceDisgrace is on about. If a friend started snacking on sawdust or suggested that I sprinkle it on my spaghetti I would definitely consider that person to be unhinged.

People aren't actively seeking out wood pulp here. It's a really dumb framing.
posted by invitapriore at 4:33 PM on February 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


I grew up calling the shaker of Kraft parmesan that we always had in the fridge "cheese salt."

I still do. And it's delicious, damn it.

*door rack, 2nd shelf from bottom, next to the mayo
posted by duffell at 4:33 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Xylose is found to some degree in most edible plants. If you eat plants you're eating xylose.
posted by Jalliah at 4:33 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Parmigiano-Reggiano is so much better than shaky cheese it's hard to believe they're supposed to be used the same way.
posted by Small Dollar at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2016


>Xylose is found to some degree in most edible plants. If you eat plants you're eating xylose.
Jalliah, it is found in the parts you discard, namely the roots and peels.

>People aren't actively seeking out wood pulp here. It's a really dumb framing.
Wood flour is not the same thing as wood pulp. They are actively purchasing it and adding it to food. It is ignorant to not recognize that as aberrant behavior.
posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Among the things of value that Samuel Pepys buried in his garden during the Great London Fire was a wheel of "Parmazan cheese."


Dr. Livesey brings a hunk along to Treasure Island:

"Well, Jim," says he, "just see the good that comes of being dainty in
your food. You've seen my snuff-box, haven't you? And you never saw me
take snuff, the reason being that in my snuff-box I carry a piece of
Parmesan cheese--a cheese made in Italy, very nutritious. Well, that's
for Ben Gunn!"
posted by Trochanter at 4:36 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


It does not make any sense for us to address this issue as something other than xylophagia, because people are eating xylose.

So we should ban any food ingredients that sufferers of pica might fixate on? This seems completely wrongheaded. If you're xylose intolerant, check your ingredient declarations and choose options that don't contain it. And if the ingredient dec's are incorrect, let the law deal with it. It's what they're there for. But why would you let food safety decisions be made by consumers that are explicitly abusing these ingredients?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:36 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Whole Foods 365 brand

Considering what I paid for it, the cellulose better be from organic and fair trade wood pulp.
posted by mittens at 4:36 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


Wood flour is not the same thing as wood pulp. They are actively purchasing it and adding it to food. It is ignorant to not recognize that as aberrant behavior.

But they're not doing it because they want to eat non-food products. Intentionality matters, and your pet issue here is weird.
posted by invitapriore at 4:38 PM on February 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


Question: if "beanplating" is overthinking a straightforward issue to an absurd degree, what's it called when two extremely passionate parties to an argument find an especially obscure hill to die on? "Parmesaning?"
posted by duffell at 4:39 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


This is why I stick to Venezuelan Beaver Cheese.
posted by unliteral at 4:41 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Question: if "beanplating" is overthinking a straightforward issue to an absurd degree, what's it called when two extremely passionate parties to an argument find an especially obscure hill to die on?

Cheeseplating
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:41 PM on February 17, 2016 [23 favorites]


It is extremely strange that we, as a society, have determined that it is lawful for food processors to engage in a behavior which is indicative of mental illness, so that their jobs are slightly easier or more lucrative.

This may be ironic on some cultural level, but its not inherently inconsistent or paradoxical.

Pica, being a mental disorder, is a pathological desire or compulsion to eat substances that the sufferer is aware are 'not food.' Regulations of acceptable levels of adulterants or additives do the opposite: to try to ensure that the substances presented to the consumer as 'food' are indeed (mostly) food.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:42 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Jalliah, it is found in the parts you discard, namely the roots and peels.
And people eat roots and peels all the time. It's a chemical compound that is most easily isolated from things like wood, also corn and straw but you are consuming it if you eat plants.

Don't eat stuff that has it added to if you don't want. But making it seem like it's harmful is not scientific. Our bodies even produce specific enzymes for dealing with it because it's a totally common compound in human food.
posted by Jalliah at 4:42 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Cheeseplating

The answer was in front of us the whole time. Thank you. Yes.
posted by duffell at 4:43 PM on February 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


Jalliah, it is found in the parts you discard, namely the roots and peels.

This isn't even true, unless there was a silent "as well as the parts you eat."
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:45 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


[MisplaceDisgrace, you need to knock it off with the snide personal attacks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:45 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


Great, now I'm concerned that Five Counties is actually produced in Brixton.
posted by clavdivs at 4:47 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Mental illness" is to some extent what happens when you're doing something that causes problems while falling outside of the norms of a society/culture/etc.

I think the acceptance of ingredients that can cause nausea and diarrhea in food is more a societal-level "mental illness" than something to be seen as an individual-scale problem like everyone who eats parmesan cheese with wood pulp having some sort of pica. It's still totally normal in most of the US to eat these mostly-foods.
posted by aniola at 4:48 PM on February 17, 2016


>This may be ironic on some cultural level, but its not inherently inconsistent or paradoxical. Pica, being a mental disorder, is a pathological desire or compulsion to eat substances that the sufferer is aware are 'not food.' Regulations of acceptable levels of adulterants or additives do the opposite: to try to ensure that the substances presented to the consumer as 'food' are indeed (mostly) food.

It is indeed paradoxical and inconsistent because the practice only offers an economic benefit to a small fraction of society and gives them the capacity to cause harm to a greater fraction of society.

>And people eat roots and peels all the time. It's a chemical compound that is most easily isolated from things like wood, also corn and straw but you are consuming it if you eat plants.

People who eat roots and peels suffer from nausea and diarrhea. Jalliah, you should not generalize "plants" to mean the same things as "edible portions of plants"

>Don't eat stuff that has it added to if you don't want. But making it seem like it's harmful is not scientific.

It is scientifically accurate to state that spontaneously induced nausea and diarrhea are forms of harm which can be caused by wood flour. It is medically unethical to claim otherwise.

>Our bodies even produce specific enzymes for dealing with it because it's a totally common compound in human food.

Humans do not produce xylase, nor lignocellulase. Can you reference a paper to prove otherwise?
posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 4:49 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Intentionality matters, and your pet issue here is weird."

Which is exactly the point MisplaceDisgrace made in the rest of their comment:
  • Deliberately seeking out & eating non-digestible products is considered a mental illness.
  • Deliberately seeking out & adding non-digestible products to foodstuffs which do not normally contain those same non-digestible products is apparently considered good and sensible business practice.
    posted by Pinback at 4:49 PM on February 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


    >This isn't even true, unless there was a silent "as well as the parts you eat."

    Do you have a source for anything you have said?

    Lignocellulose is not found in the edible portions of plants, either.

    Fruit seeds have some xylose, but once you isolate the edible part of a plant there is none left.

    >[MisplaceDisgrace, you need to knock it off with the snide personal attacks. ]

    I am not attacking people, restless nomad, I am responding to them specifically and informing them of their scientific errors.
    posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 4:54 PM on February 17, 2016


    I'm just scratching my head at how this is "news" because I thought we'd known this for a long time. Literally for decades, every TV cooking show host has been saying "grate your own Parmesan, the pre-grated stuff has fillers in it." Maybe they weren't playing up this cellulose/wood pulp connection, but I feel like it's been clear for a very long time that pre-grated Parm has non-cheese additives in it.

    (Trader Joe's sells chunks of imported Parmesan for seriously reasonable prices. It's not hard to come by.)
    posted by dnash at 4:54 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    People who eat roots and peels suffer from nausea and diarrhea. Jalliah, you should not generalize "plants" to mean the same things as "edible portions of plants"

    Wait, roots aren't "food"? It's really starting to sound like you want to impose your own idiosyncratic diet ideas on the population in general, and back them up with law.
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:55 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Kellog thought protein was bad.
    Pritican thought fat was bad.
    Atkins thought carbs were bad.
    And now your aunt on Facebook thinks fiber is bad.
    posted by mccarty.tim at 4:57 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Do Meeple Dream of Wooden Sheep?
    posted by otherchaz at 4:57 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Xylose is found to some degree in most edible plants. If you eat plants you're eating xylose.

    Cheese isn't a plant!
    posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:58 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    >Wait, roots aren't "food"? It's really starting to sound like you want to impose your own idiosyncratic diet ideas on the population in general, and back them up with law.

    There are exceptions to that which you could expect in carrots, cassava, and potatoes.
    They are starchy tubers, in strict culinary and botanical terms.

    It sounds like you want to defend bad business practices with your own idiosyncratic ideas about biological and chemical terminology.
    posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 4:58 PM on February 17, 2016


    I don't see how cellulose on cheese is any more of a problem than useless minerals in fancy spring water.
    posted by clorox at 4:59 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    People who eat roots and peels suffer from nausea and diarrhea. Jalliah, you should not generalize "plants" to mean the same things as "edible portions of plants"

    Carrots are a root. Carrots contain four main type of sugars: xylose, glucose, fructose and fructose.

    If you eat carrots you're consuming xylose.

    I'm sorry if eating carrots gives some people the runs and nausea but they're fine for lots of people.
    posted by Jalliah at 5:00 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I am not attacking people, restless nomad, I am responding to them specifically and informing them of their scientific errors.

    What people (commonly) eat and what people can digest are two different things. Thus, poop.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 5:01 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    If I saw somebody eating baking soda or yeast straight from the tin, I'd think they'd need help.

    But if I see a home cook mixing them into baked goods, I don't yell that they're IMPOSING PICA on their family.
    posted by mccarty.tim at 5:01 PM on February 17, 2016 [15 favorites]




    >Carrots are a root
    They are a tuber. The difference is that they are simple cylinders in shape, rather than a branched, shaggy mass.

    >Carrots contain four main type of sugars: xylose, glucose, fructose and fructose.
    Your mistake is to assume that these sugars are homogeneously distributed throughout the plant.
    The xylose is in the peel and stem, which is why those parts are usually discarded. Please cite at least one source to support your claims, Jalliah

    >What people eat and what people can digest are two different things. Thus, poop.

    Are you in the camp where surreptitiously causing people to poop is not a form of harm, snuffleupagus? I do not believe that anyone deserves that treatment.
    posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 5:05 PM on February 17, 2016


    If I saw somebody eating baking soda or yeast straight from the tin, I'd think they'd need help.

    Oh dear.Ha ha. Don't come to my house if I ever get heart burn. I just go straight for the soda with a spoon.
    posted by Jalliah at 5:05 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    mccarty.tim, it's even worse than you might think. My local bagel shop uses lye, which is DRAIN CLEANER. They're poisoners, but somehow no one stops them!!!
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:06 PM on February 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


    Good job, a box and a stick and a string and a bear has repeated the truth.
    posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 5:07 PM on February 17, 2016


    This is why I produce my own rennet.
    posted by Existential Dread at 5:07 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    surreptitiously causing people to poop

    Worst mutant power EVER.
    posted by mittens at 5:08 PM on February 17, 2016 [30 favorites]


    The xylose is in the peel and stem, which is why those parts are usually discarded.

    Uh... most of the nutrients in carrots are in the skin. Since you're so gung-ho about citations, I'd love to see any decent citation for tuber peels generally being discarded because of xylose.
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:09 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Metafilter: I am not attacking people, I am informing them of their scientific errors.
    posted by dersins at 5:10 PM on February 17, 2016 [38 favorites]


    Are you in the camp where surreptitiously causing people to poop is not a form of harm

    Hi de Hi!
    posted by cromagnon at 5:10 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Are you in the camp where surreptitiously causing people to poop is not a form of harm, snuffleupagus? I do not believe that anyone deserves that treatment.

    Perhaps not, but indigestible substances are parts of unadulterated, unprocessed foods found in nature and consumed since very early stages of human evolution (and by our predecessors). And some amount of insoluble fiber is arguably required for good digestive function and intestinal health.

    Or are you going to slap the next bran muffin you see out of somebody's hand, to alert them to their debilitating pica?
    posted by snuffleupagus at 5:11 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    The xylose is in the peel and stem, which is why those parts are usually discarded. Please cite at least one source to support your claims, Jalliah

    Well we can start with the fact that it's perfectly normal and common for people to not peel their carrots, especially if they're fresh picked.

    Ever had a garden? There is no need to peel fresh carrots. It's a waste of time. Heck it's sometimes hard to even wait until they're washed. Just brush them off, sit on the ground and munch away.

    You mentioned potatoes up thread. It's totally normal to eat unpeeled potatoes if they're newer and fresher then the ones that need a thicker skin for storage
    posted by Jalliah at 5:11 PM on February 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Speakeasies under a fiber prohibition sure would be sad.
    posted by mccarty.tim at 5:12 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching. Always assume that if people disagree with you, they want to make everyone around them SHIT UNCONTROLLABLY.
    posted by duffell at 5:13 PM on February 17, 2016 [41 favorites]


    You mentioned potatoes up thread. It's totally normal to eat unpeeled potatoes if they're newer and fresher then the ones that need a thicker skin for storage

    INSANITY!
    posted by snuffleupagus at 5:14 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I do, though.
    posted by cromagnon at 5:14 PM on February 17, 2016


    Ooh, great, another Splunge story! ::sigh::

    Anyway... I worked at a deli counter in a small supermarket for a while. It seemed that the owner thought that our numbers could be better. So he brought in a guy to get us 'up to speed'. Now you have to understand that it was a small deli counter and the people that worked there had to be a well oiled machine. We worked like a freaking ballet. The main thing was to do your stuff while dancing around two or three other workers, each doing their stuff. We had three slicers. One for cheese, one for meat and one for Kosher.

    We had fun with each other and with the customers. As well, we knew which customers were ball breakers.

    Then Manny arrived. He decided to take a fucking wheel of excellent Parmigiano Reggiano and grind the whole thing up into plastic bags. Please let me repeat that. A full wheel. A giant circle of the King of fucking cheese. And grind it all up.

    Let me explain why this is wrong. That whole round of cheese was worth about $1500 USD at the time. When he was done with it it was worth shit. Because once you grind it up it loses all the essential oils and flavors that it once had.

    We ended up selling his plastic bags of pre-grated parm at a major loss. This was a predominately Italian neighborhood. Every day some grandma or grandpa would come in for a chunk of cheese. We were told to 'sell the bags'. Nobody wanted it. They all knew it was crap already. Grated cheese in a BAG? Boolsheet.
    posted by Splunge at 5:15 PM on February 17, 2016 [21 favorites]


    So Krieger's pants-shitting ray: immoral?
    posted by indubitable at 5:15 PM on February 17, 2016


    Potash and soda are mineral supplements, but only in prescribed quantities.

    >Uh... most of the nutrients in carrots are in the skin.

    That is untrue. It also violates conservation of mass.

    >I'd love to see any decent citation for tuber peels generally being discarded because of xylose.

    This is something where you will have to take an upper level course in botany and a semester in cooking school. Lignocellulose is also an indigestible sugar found in those components. Have you already read the psychiatry paper I referenced? It is a compound which medical researchers use to measure excretion.

    Here is a paper on sources of xylose:

    posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 5:17 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching. Always assume that if people disagree with you, they want to make everyone around them SHIT UNCONTROLLABLY.

    Oh dear. I can't stop laughing. I just keep getting visions of sitting in Grandmas garden with other cousins munching on the carrots that we were supposed to be picking for dinner while Grandma stood at the window with an evil grin. 'Gonna make those grandkids shit all night!"
    posted by Jalliah at 5:17 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


    Humans do not produce xylase

    I outsource all my xylose to Bacteroides xylanisolvens. It's not as honest as digesting it myself, but I figure, why put the little guys out of a job?
    posted by mittens at 5:18 PM on February 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


    You know what this thread needs? A good fisking.
    posted by Existential Dread at 5:21 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Customers at a dietary fiber speakeasy would be 'regulars', I guess.
    posted by cromagnon at 5:21 PM on February 17, 2016 [26 favorites]


    >Perhaps not, but indigestible substances are parts of unadulterated, unprocessed foods found in nature and consumed since very early stages of human evolution (and by our predecessors). And some amount of insoluble fiber is arguably required for good digestive function and intestinal health.

    50,000 years or so ago we started to remove them, thus inventing cooking and demarcating our species from other apes.

    >Or are you going to slap the next bran muffin you see out of somebody's hand, to alert them to their debilitating pica?

    The difference is that they are already informed of the effects of bran.

    >Well we can start with the fact that it's perfectly normal and common for people to not peel their carrots, especially if they're fresh picked.

    It is normal but the difference is that they are aware and have a choice in the matter.

    >Ever had a garden? There is no need to peel fresh carrots. It's a waste of time. Heck it's sometimes hard to even wait until they're washed. Just brush them off, sit on the ground and munch away.

    If someone cannot choose whether or not to do so then being in that state of nature is either deprivation or harm caused. If someone sells unclean vegetables it is a violation of FDA guidelines akin to the Castle Cheese case, so you are proving my point.

    >You mentioned potatoes up thread. It's totally normal to eat unpeeled potatoes if they're newer and fresher then the ones that need a thicker skin for storage

    There you go again, the difference between thin and thick skin is a lesser or greater concentration of xylose.
    posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 5:23 PM on February 17, 2016


    Let me explain why this is wrong. That whole round of cheese was worth about $1500 USD at the time. When he was done with it it was worth shit. Because once you grind it up it loses all the essential oils and flavors that it once had.

    Now that made my stomach feel queasy. Nooooooooooo don't do that!
    posted by Jalliah at 5:23 PM on February 17, 2016


    It also violates conservation of mass.

    I didn't realize that we were creating or destroying matter in the process of growing carrots.
    posted by Existential Dread at 5:24 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


    [MisplaceDisgrace, thank you for listening to my previous admonition, but now you really need to step back and not rebut every comment here. If you want to have a one-on-one conversation, you can propose one via MeMail.]
    posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:26 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


    >I didn't realize that we were creating or destroying matter in the process of growing carrots.

    The argument about nutrients being in a smaller part of the carrot is null and void because your body is not creating matter during digestion.
    posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 5:26 PM on February 17, 2016


    I didn't realize that we were creating or destroying matter in the process of growing carrots.

    Wait until you hear about how the "Foodstuff Carrot" recognized by the FDA is in fact a legal fiction entirely distinct from Free Carrots On The Land.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 5:26 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


    They call it "fusion cuisine" but my neutron detector says bullshit.
    posted by Wolfdog at 5:30 PM on February 17, 2016 [14 favorites]


    We also find that wood mice like to gnaw down into the larger carrots, hollowing them out. However, this usually happens with carrots overwintered in the ground, under straw.

    -"Help what's eating my carrots?"

    posted by sebastienbailard at 5:31 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    f someone cannot choose whether or not to do so then being in that state of nature is either deprivation or harm caused. If someone sells unclean vegetables it is a violation of FDA guidelines akin to the Castle Cheese case, so you are proving my point.

    No we weren't talking about cleaning. We were talking about peels. People eat unpeeled carrots all the time with no ill effects. And as far as I know there is no rule against selling carrots with peels on them.

    You're whole thing seems to be proving that eating xylose is somehow inherently harmful because of what it is. Sure maybe if you eat tons of it but people do regularly consume the sugar compound xylose in their food without ill effects. It goes and goes out.
    posted by Jalliah at 5:31 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]




    a box and a stick and a string and a bear, if you want me to explain why the law of mass conservation means that there is not enough stuff in for carrot peels to contain "most of the nutrients", then it will have to be via memail.

    Our argument is now too specific for this thread.
    posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 5:36 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    What on earth does this have to do with the location of nutrients in a carrot?

    Three pounds of flax.*


    *May contain trace amounts of Xylose.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 5:36 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


    mice like to gnaw down into the larger carrots, hollowing them out.

    (lately I've noticed that when I get carrots, they often have splits in them, which kind of freaks me out because all I can picture is bacteria being wedged up in there. I still don't know what causes the splits, but at least now I can picture tiny mice carefully chewing the splits into them.)
    posted by mittens at 5:37 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Maybe just don't poke the bear, folks. It'll all work out.
    posted by Trochanter at 5:40 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Flax is mostly grown for fiber. It has been a major component of textiles and bowstrings for at least a thousand years.
    posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 5:40 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    But the pun in the article...

    "Cheese makers commit adulteration..."

    THOU SHALT NOT!
    posted by symbioid at 5:40 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I for one never discard tuber peels or stems - who the fuck can be bothered with peeling carrots or potatoes? The skin is the tastiest bit!
    posted by Dysk at 5:40 PM on February 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


    *mails castle cheese a fish and leaves a horse head in their bed*

    Seriously though, there is such a difference between 'parmesan' and "Parmigiano." My Italian born mother and grandmother describe the former as 'sawdust,' and they are right.
    posted by jonmc at 5:40 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I wasn't poking it, I was trying to make it take a spontaneous poop.
    posted by cromagnon at 5:42 PM on February 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


    there is such a difference between 'parmesan' and "Parmigiano."

    When I was a waiter years back in a Southern town, I had customers that asked for "par-ME-zhen" cheese. Considering we bought most of our stuff from Sysco, it may well have been sawdust.
    posted by Greg_Ace at 5:47 PM on February 17, 2016


    Our argument is now too specific for this thread

    MisplaceDisgrace, you might want to consider the possibility that your theories are indefensible in this thread because of what they are, not because of the scientific illiteracy you're accusing us of. I spent several years sharing a major commercial test-kitchen with multiple food science PhD's and working chefs, and your arguments would have been laughed off the premises pretty darn quick.
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:47 PM on February 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


    Lets talk briefly about Pica, since MisplacedDisgrace seems to have a flawed idea of it.

    Pica's a very specific mental condition, defined by the DSM-V as

    ===
    A)Persistent eating of non-nutritive substances for a period of at least one month.
    B)The eating of non-nutritive substances is inappropriate to the developmental level of the individual.
    C)The eating behaviour is not part of a culturally supported or socially normative practice.
    D)If occurring in the presence of another mental disorder (e.g. autistic spectrum disorder), or during a medical condition (e.g. pregnancy), it is severe enough to warrant independent clinical attention.==
    ===
    So this cannot be Pica, and should not be called as such and is in fact, dangerous and unethical to state it as such.

    A) Feeding someone else a non-nutritive substance is not Pica, because this specifically mentions eating. There is no "Pica by Proxy" and you can't diagnose countries and corporations anyway.
    B) It -may- be that the cellulose is inappropriate to the developmental level if we're speaking very broadly about what may or may not be healthy for a typical human adult, but this single criterion is not enough to diagnose Pica (and you can't diagnose someone anyway, as you're not a qualified mental health professional and neither am I).
    (A AND B) Both Point B and Point A also require conscious control over the intake - force feeding someone or tricking them into eating something isn't Pica.

    C) However, eating these things in the amounts in these foods is part of a culturally sanctioned practice, in so much as the FDA has said certain small amounts are not harmful (and so they're probably also developmentally appropriate), and so we don't point to eating inexpensive mass-produced cheese from Wal*Mart as strange or unusual.
    D) This is just not even a little bit relevant because you can't diagnose the FDA or major cheese factories with mental health disorders.

    Just "eating something that isn't food" isn't Pica. Pica requires really specific criteria to be met. Licking a postage stamp isn't Pica, chewing your fingernails isn't Pica and neither is this.
    posted by FritoKAL at 5:48 PM on February 17, 2016 [20 favorites]


      a major component of textiles and bowstrings

    mmm tasty tasty bowstrings nam nahm nahhm

    All of this is a huge missed marketing opportunity: “American Parmesan Gives You Wood”.

    oh, and: Grana Padano ftw. That is all.
    posted by scruss at 5:55 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I think in general adding more and more food additives from non-food sources and calling these substances "food" simply because they can't be proven to cause life threatening illness is reckless. They usually test (if they do at all) within a few months to a year, and they don't really do 20-30 year studies so they are always passing this risk on to people who have not provided informed consent.

    I'm sick of children being guinea pigs for industry to pump full of whatever makes them the most money and creating a culture where anyone concerns is laughed at because there aren't proven illness, yet. I don't want to find out? Who ultimately stands to gain? I'm not all that worried about cellulose, however I would rather not eat it, and I am really sick of a culture that says "Hey we should be able to put whatever we want in your body and if you're concerned you're a fruitcake hahahaha we are scientific superiors and can pump things in your body and as long as none of the rats we tortured got cancer there's no reason to be concerned".

    This cultural trend is fueled by people working in science that is overwhelmingly influenced by business and industrial interests and as we can see from the utterly broken and exploited chemical safety testing, it would be worth finding the entire method of "put it in people first, ask questions later" flawed to begin with.
    posted by xarnop at 5:58 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


    I am having the strangest sense of deja vu with the whole "your parmesan is actually wood!" thing . . .
    posted by auggy at 6:03 PM on February 17, 2016


    [Folks, when I ask someone to stop replying to everything, that requires everyone else to stop addressing remarks to them, too. Knock it off. Thanks. ]
    posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:05 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]



    Because wood flour is about as nutritious as clay or chalk.


    Less, actually. Pregnant women occasionally eat chalk as a source of calcium. Perfectly fine.
    posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:12 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    I don't know how to do Google Books links here, but the breathless reporting of all the wonders of adding scientific cellulose to food in Life Magazine's June 2, 1961 issue, an article entitled "Food That Isn't Food," is quite the read.
    posted by mittens at 6:13 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Mittens, I think this is the article you want.
    posted by R a c h e l at 6:20 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    If you wash it down with some Flint water, you may actually shit a pencil.

    Constipated mathematicians aren't sure where to go with this.
    posted by detachd at 6:21 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


    They usually test (if they do at all) within a few months to a year, and they don't really do 20-30 year studies so they are always passing this risk on to people who have not provided informed consent.

    The thing is, powdered cellulose has been on the GRAS list for over forty years, and was safely used in food for decades before then. Hundreds of non-nutritive ingredients were, and there's no way to just yank all ingredients from the market until they have decades of scientific studies completed. As is, we have to evaluate potential dangers as they come, and cellulose just hasn't had the problematic effects that would trigger a reevaluation of its GRAS status. There are obviously some issues to be addressed concerning food lobbies getting in the way of science based laws, but I'd rather deal with that than ban any of the thousands of ingredients that haven't proven their safety through decades of lab testing.
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:25 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    I'm curious about the history. When you say they've been used over forty years- you mean they were introduced fairly recently when the excitement over industrial chemicals in food and a lack of caution was the norm? That's exactly the time period I think that attitude became really popular and it's been really hard to root out because it's profitable and a lot of people's jobs, ideologies, and conscience are rooted in believing this a great thing and shouldn't be questioned as an innate good that more and more different kinds of chemicals should continually be put into food and products without any questioning by the public or ability to fight back or even know what is in the products/furniture/food they are bombarded with.
    posted by xarnop at 6:37 PM on February 17, 2016


    I feel like I have had this argument before, with a friend who scolded me for eating a Fiber One bar, as it had WOOD PULP in it, which was not a food product and not digestible. I very bluntly informed her that insoluble fiber was the only thing keeping me from daily liquid poops. She responded with a vague, "Oh, fiber's good, but you shouldn't have to eat WOOD PULP to have normal bowel movements." I was like, yeah ok, you tell my colon that.

    Not that I'm saying that filling powdered Parmesan with cellulose is the healthiest possible choice - not everyone has IBS, and I certainly never got any IBS relief simply from adding cheese to my spaghetti. And I think it should be disclosed so that people know there are fillers in their food, but the WOOD PULP IS NOT FOOD scaremongering is a little silly. Psyllium isn't food either, nor is iron. No one eats these things to sate hunger. We eat these things to be healthier, or as medicine.

    And I don't think that causing someone to poop is the worst thing in the world. Often it's needed! Here, take some cellulose! A healthy bowel movement for everyone!
    posted by chainsofreedom at 6:40 PM on February 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


    Cellulose in various forms has been used as a food adulterant since at least the Victorian era -- in addition to the more commonplace uses, they also used tiny bits of wood stamped out like raspberry seeds to make "raspberry" jam. (Which apparently showed up on an episode of QI, although I believe I read it in either Bill Bryson's At Home or one of Judith Flanders' books about Victorian life.)

    Of course, the Victorians also used heavy metals as food dye, so they're hardly the example you want to go by for food safety. But as far as history goes, the use of wood pulp as a food additive goes way back.
    posted by pie ninja at 6:46 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Which leaves us with the question of what to do with the thousands of food additives that have been used for over a century. Why should any of them be acceptable for use, since they didn't undergo decades of clinical trials?
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:56 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Now I wonder if even the spaghetti was fake.

    Was it picked fresh from a legitimate spaghetti plantation?
    posted by mudpuppie at 7:12 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    it is found in the parts you discard, namely the roots and peels.

    I swear to god, if you fuckers ruin root beer...
    posted by pwnguin at 7:24 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


    This thread has gone so far off the rails, I don't even....
    posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:25 PM on February 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


    parmesan's good because it has a crapola of glutamate in it and is one of the best ways that umami has been incorporated into a Western diet

    if you want that good, good taste, get some (completely safe) MSG and use it sparingly as you would salt. in fact, since it is basically just glutamate bonded to salt, count it toward your total sodium count, too. I get the flush/headache reaction from too much MSG but since I've been using only a tiny amount in my own cooking, I've had no adverse reactions

    but uh, yeah, the FDA should be empowered to do more about regulating food safety issues. Bloomberg's article by Ted Genoways on the pork industry is horrifying in a lot of ways. also Frontline's documentary on Foster Farm's glacial reaction to a salmonella outbreak despite repeated attempted recalls that led to over 200 hospitalizations is like fascinating and gruesome and man oh man. oh, and they recently had a documentary out about why the FDA is hands off with dietary supplements and how terrible that whole industry is that's really worth a watch. I went in as a skeptic of dietary supplements and came out of it somehow angrier at the people who work so hard to deregulate industries with historically shitty quality control issues
    posted by runt at 7:38 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


    That's the hardest part. Today, everything is different. Can't even get decent food. I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and parmesean cheese, and I got gluten-free noodles with artisanal ketchup and wood pulp. I'm an average nobody. Get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.
    posted by aureliobuendia at 7:41 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    no love for the Settlers title?

    i'll take that trade
    posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:51 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Mashed potaters with the skins included is delicious, that is all.
    posted by zippy at 7:53 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Isn't pre-grated cheese just a total ripoff on its own? I've only bought grated parm the once, because the store didn't have anything else in stock, and it was dry and less tasty and wrong. And while I've not really done the math on it (mostly because the grocery stores keep the two kinds mostly well separated on opposite ends of the store), the grated bags always seem to mass a lot less than the block cheese and I'd not be surprised if they were more expensive.

    That said, I grew up on "shaker cheese", and if it's got wood pulp in it, that's better than what I would have guessed. And while I don't keep it in my house, it's still an occasional strange pleasure when someone pulls that stuff out. I mean, you can dump it on your pascetti until it's coated in celluose/salt/preservatives/cricket flour like nobody's business.
    posted by joeyh at 8:01 PM on February 17, 2016


    I found it odd that they were passing off other cheese mixes as Parmesan. Wouldn't it taste odd?

    (And yes, agreed with the above comment regarding big blocks of Locatelli Romano. It's the only way to go.)
    posted by blurker at 8:07 PM on February 17, 2016


    Runt, we spent a thread arguing if a fiber in all plant cells is actually poison.

    And now you bring up MSG, the poster child for untrusted but proven safe additives?
    posted by mccarty.tim at 8:11 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Anyone tried making this umami-bomb? (Dried olives with miso, rosmary, and lemon zest. If it clumps, try adding cellulose.)

    This thread has gone so far off the rails, I don't even....

    Team Wood Mice and I are still waiting for proof that carrot peels have important nutrients.
    posted by sebastienbailard at 8:27 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    For some reason it sent me into an irrational fury that the reporter used a comma splice while quoting someone.

    “The bowl is very Instagram-friendly, you can see everything,” says Lukas Volger

    It doesn't even bother me when people actually use comma splices themselves, but alleging that you heard one in somebody's speech is some dastardly shit!
    posted by threeants at 8:30 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    You know what goes well with Parmesan?

    That's right: a nice portobello mushroom.
    posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 8:46 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


    every single headline about this stupid story ("Breaking news: Cheap parmesan isn't really parmesano reggiano!") has made it sound like they're putting factory-floor sawdust in our food.

    I have had quite a few meals that would have been improved with factory floor sawdust.

    My expectations of grated/shaker Parmesan has always been very low. It is what I grew up eating, but at some point we moved to a city where you could buy cheese that didn't come in a can and my parents never looked back.
    posted by Dip Flash at 9:08 PM on February 17, 2016


    control-f sbrinz... ok, you're all wrong.
    posted by effbot at 9:34 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


    > There are exceptions to that which you could expect in carrots, cassava, and potatoes. They are starchy tubers, in strict culinary and botanical terms.

    Carrots, radishes, beets, turnips, parsnips, rutabega, celeriac, jicama are all true roots, not tubers. And then rhizomes include lotus root, ginger, turmeric, and bulbs for all the alliums (garlic, onion, shallots)
    posted by desuetude at 10:12 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


    When I clicked on this thread, I thought it would be entirely full of people saying "but that's what you deserve when you eat convenience foods! I myself only grate my own parmesan!" It's almost nice that instead there's just a really long bizarre derail about pica.
    posted by thetortoise at 10:22 PM on February 17, 2016 [21 favorites]


    cromagnon: "I do, though."

    Annnnnnnnd, so do I.
    posted by Samizdata at 11:37 PM on February 17, 2016


    Jalliah: "f someone cannot choose whether or not to do so then being in that state of nature is either deprivation or harm caused. If someone sells unclean vegetables it is a violation of FDA guidelines akin to the Castle Cheese case, so you are proving my point.

    No we weren't talking about cleaning. We were talking about peels. People eat unpeeled carrots all the time with no ill effects. And as far as I know there is no rule against selling carrots with peels on them.

    You're whole thing seems to be proving that eating xylose is somehow inherently harmful because of what it is. Sure maybe if you eat tons of it but people do regularly consume the sugar compound xylose in their food without ill effects. It goes and goes out.
    "

    I also try to avoid baby carrots, as they strike me as a complete waste of carroty goodness. I do wash and lightly scrub, but I do not peel.
    posted by Samizdata at 11:39 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Do you people have any idea how awkward it is to grate your own tree onto pasta?

    The easiest route if just to add shavings from the spaghetti tree itself.
    posted by rongorongo at 12:17 AM on February 18, 2016


    There's only one thing that would make me satisfied in this story, but I know it's not going to happen.

    If people want to buy pre-grated cheese, fine. It doesn't have the same flavor now and it doesn't keep as long? That's your business if you think it's worth it. You need to add cellulose to keep it from clumping? Is that actually "wood pulp"? I don't care. It's all idiocy.

    The only thing that galls me is that the plastic bags of doctored cheese are labelled "100% parmesan". What I'd love is to see a bag of cheese that actually said,

    Wal-Mart Great Value 92.2% Grated Parmesan Cheese

    That'd be hysterical.
    posted by cotterpin at 12:34 AM on February 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


    I believe this is the link that rongorongo intended. Added because it it absolutely worth watching.

    If it is in fact not what was intended, I apologize.

    It is still worth watching.
    posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 1:27 AM on February 18, 2016


    No cellulose? Will you eat it if we add extra salt? What if we throw in some fun-time rainbow plastic sprinkles? Still no? Then what the fuck do you want us to adulterate it with?
    posted by Segundus at 2:34 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


    The one thing I've learned from this thread is that whoever decided to make parmigiano reggiano the upscale / aspirational / foodie replacement to good old industrial shaky cheese was a marketing genius.
    posted by graymouser at 2:34 AM on February 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


    every single headline about this stupid story ("Breaking news: Cheap parmesan isn't really parmesano reggiano!") has made it sound like they're putting factory-floor sawdust in our food.

    Which is wrong, because then they'd have nothing left to put in our teabags.

    Also, cellulose from celery is indigestible so it's simply stored in the body as cellulite. This is a widely known fact. And leaves don't fall off the trees in autumn: they jump off so the squirrels won't get 'em.

    You can prove anything with facts.
    posted by flabdablet at 3:31 AM on February 18, 2016 [5 favorites]




    I hear comma splices.
    posted by Chitownfats at 6:01 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Well wait, is it an expensive wood pulp, like a nice mahogany?
    posted by Nanukthedog at 6:25 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


    *snort* I prefer spruce. But sure, mahogany, if that's your thing.
    posted by duffell at 6:32 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Anyone tried making this umami-bomb? (Dried olives with miso, rosmary, and lemon zest. If it clumps, try adding cellulose.)

    I have and it is delicious. Lopez-Alt is correct in that it's not a parmesan replacement in the slightest, but man, does it make a tasty pasta topper. Wood pulp free to boot.
    posted by marshmallow peep at 6:37 AM on February 18, 2016


    All this talk about cheese makes me crave pasta with bolognese sauce. And I found some sauce in the freezer! Down to the store to look at cheeses. It turns out the vomit-powder is about two dollars cheaper pr. kilo than the cheapest piece of grana padano. The brand they had in the store was cheese only, but neither parmigiano nor grana - the wording was "dried cheese".
    posted by mumimor at 8:08 AM on February 18, 2016


    Jalliah: Our bodies even produce specific enzymes for dealing with it because it's a totally common compound in human food.

    MisplaceDisgrace: Humans do not produce xylase, nor lignocellulase. Can you reference a paper to prove otherwise?

    Respectfully, you're not asking the right question. The question you should be asking is do humans metabolize xylose, why and how? So here's the answer:

    Animals use UDP-xylose -- a kind of sugar (monosaccharide of the aldopentose type) -- to help form certain kinds of proteoglycans used in connective tissue. They obtain it from their diets. Humans have an enzyme called xylosyltransferase, which transfers xylose from UDP to a serine in the core protein of proteoglycans. Xylosylation is the first carbohydrate modification of that core protein, which initiates glycosaminoglycan chain synthesis. It begins in the endoplasmic reticulum, and continues in the Golgi body.

    You can read more about the mechanism of xylosyltransferase here. The human gene that produces xylosyltransferase is called XYLT1 or “xylosyltransferase I.”
    posted by zarq at 8:23 AM on February 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


    My thing with this is not the health issue but just the cheesy, sleazy race to the bottom. It's a banal Orwellianism. Everything getting worse so the rich can get a percent of a penny richer. Millions spent on scientific research to find out what's the lousiest product we can get away with. More wood pulp in the mozerella, more water in the mayo, produce that is tasteless but ships well. Ersatz everything.

    /grouchy
    posted by Trochanter at 9:03 AM on February 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Just came in to give you props for the Catan tag/title reference.
    posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:10 AM on February 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Runt, we spent a thread arguing if a fiber in all plant cells is actually poison.

    And now you bring up MSG, the poster child for untrusted but proven safe additives?


    you can pry my very basic awareness of food science from my cold, glutamate flecked fingers
    posted by runt at 10:56 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Well we can start with the fact that it's perfectly normal and common for people to not peel their carrots,

    People peel carrots?
    posted by bongo_x at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Not normally and commonly, no. I think that has been established as a "fact".
    posted by Greg_Ace at 11:11 AM on February 18, 2016


    if you don't peel your carrots and wash them after, you are pretty much guaranteeing yourself a small dose of pesticides

    salmonella contamination, too, for some fruits because working conditions on those farms are terrible and bathroom breaks rare esp if you're migrant labor (thanks capitalism)
    posted by runt at 11:45 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Also, if you don't peel your carrots but give them a good scrub, you're removing most of the pesticides. That probably won't remove any tough, ingrained paranoia from the chef though.
    posted by Greg_Ace at 12:05 PM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Mi fa cagare!
    You must be having WAY too much olive oil, then ...
    posted by milnews.ca at 1:31 PM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Isn't pre-grated cheese just a total ripoff on its own? I've only bought grated parm the once, because the store didn't have anything else in stock, and it was dry and less tasty and wrong. And while I've not really done the math on it (mostly because the grocery stores keep the two kinds mostly well separated on opposite ends of the store), the grated bags always seem to mass a lot less than the block cheese and I'd not be surprised if they were more expensive.

    You are paying extra for the convenience of having it grated, but yes, the quality of the cheese is lower because by grating it, you drastically increase its surface area, which allows the cheese to dry out and quickly "out-gas" its cheesy goodness. Grating at the last minute is always best, and I've totally given up on "pre-shredded" parmesan because it's so crusty and stale. Personally I do keep "shaker cheese" around since it's ingrained in my childhood, and tend to buy colby-jack blends pre-shredded because I use them in sauces and as melted toppings and such where the freshness differential isn't really noticeable.

    The one thing I've learned from this thread is that whoever decided to make parmigiano reggiano the upscale / aspirational / foodie replacement to good old industrial shaky cheese was a marketing genius.

    Ehh, hate to burst a "LOL hipsters" bubble, but that is backwards. American "Parmesan" has always been intended to be a bastardization of real parmigiano reggiano cheese, which has been around for many hundreds of years. Parmigiano has a very specific meaning and it's enforced by the EU; "parmesan" as sold in the US is a deliberately down-market version of it, and it's really its own thing in its own right. This is similar to the difference between dried italian spices and fresh -- the fresh stuff always wins on "authenticity" and freshness, but there are tons of recipes (especially in the Americanized Greek-Italian oevre) that specifically call for dry herbs and aren't really the same if you try to "upscale" them.
    posted by aydeejones at 4:28 PM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


    One of my favorite uses of "shaker cheese," cellulose and all, is to slightly thicken canned tomato sauce, or crushed tomatoes (in addition to seasoning them with hand-crushed dry herbs), adding an umami explosion (there's already glutamate in the tomato) and making it sticky-spreadable on pizza crust, or very sticky to pasta. To balance the bastardization factor, add some balsamic vinegar especially if you're making pizza...
    posted by aydeejones at 4:33 PM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


    American Parmesan:Parmigiano Reggiano::Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey:Pappy van Winkle

    (would consume all of the above, but minimal Fireball plz)
    posted by aydeejones at 4:34 PM on February 18, 2016


    Re: adding umami - I buy Parmigiano wedges and save the rinds (which keep in the fridge for ages) to throw in when I'm cooking liquid-type things.
    posted by Greg_Ace at 5:10 PM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Just fyi, most decent cheese-mongers will sell parm rinds at a fraction of the price of full wedges.
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:29 PM on February 18, 2016


    Well, I mean, I do eat the rest of the wedges...
    posted by Greg_Ace at 5:52 PM on February 18, 2016


    Just fyi, most decent cheese-mongers will sell parm rinds at a fraction of the price of full wedges.

    Tell that to the deli guy at Ralphs.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 8:15 PM on February 18, 2016


    How can you get salmonella poisoning from carrots? Surely no one touches the carrots during harvesting.
    posted by ambrosen at 12:14 AM on February 19, 2016


    My thing with this is not the health issue but just the cheesy, sleazy race to the bottom.

    I thought not being cheesy enough was the issue in this case...
    posted by Dysk at 2:34 AM on February 19, 2016


    You know what gets me? If they've been adding extra anti-clumping ingredients as filler, you'd think the cheese would have the common decency to stop freaking clumping.
    posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:51 PM on March 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


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