Monday, December 10, 2007

The Vegetarian Short-fall Blues

I eat no meat. At least deliberately. I learned to check labels after I latched onto a bargain brand of plain yogurt and read that the manufacturer used gelatin as a stabilizer.

Even that episode didn't dissuade me from bargain brands, but perhaps today's experience -- added to yesterday's -- will finally persuade me that there must be a better way to get a dollar's worth of value for every dollar spent than to stick to the same brands.

Yesterday was vegetarian lasagna day at our house. It's a family favorite. Spinach is a primary ingredient. I opened a can of Popeye's brand and poured out the liquid to save for dog food. And poured. And poured some more. Once drained, I checked the can. There was less than a half a can of actual spinach left in the can.

Today it was garbanzo beans, yogurt, and garlic for lunch. I decided to measure the contents by weight. The can promised a serving of 15.5 ounces.

I used a food scale to measure ...
  • 4.5 ounces of liquid
  • 9 ounces of garbanzos
  • 2 ounces of imagination
Granted, considering that these items are processed and transported for hundreds of miles, a consumer should expect settling of contents. But liquid doesn't settle, and liquid is injected into the cans at the same time as the alleged contents on the label are inserted.

Apparently water provides a better profit margin than spinach. Or garbanzo beans. It's nothing new, of course. I can remember following a debate thirty or forty years ago regarding the meat packing industry's desire to sell ham with a 10% moisture content. In their attempt to sell ten hams for every nine they processed, those meat packers were ahead of the curve.

I only wish their grandchildren had stuck with the meat industry. They apparently became vegetarians and now peddle spinach and beans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gary,

Those numbers on the packing can be fun. Many years ago I spent Christmas in London with an aunt and uncle. My aunt shopped at Harrods, where we might imagine the numbers meant something.

There was a frozen chicken thawing on the sink, so it seemed natural to read the label. Doesn't everybody do that?

This label had fine print. "The weight of this chicken has been adjusted by the addition of basting fluid."

What a wonder. They had added water to bring it up to the stated weight. At Harrods even?