Additives

One consequence of having kids with food allergies is that you end up reading food labels more closely, and decyphering what various words really mean. For example, “natural flavors” usually means “MSG”.

We were surprised that it was so difficult to find tuna that doesn’t include additives. But we have found exactly one brand of tuna that has nothing but tuna, water, and salt. It’s made by Polar, and is the only brand that doesn’t make our children sick. It’s usually about twenty-nine cents more expensive than the sale price of other brands, and harder to find, so when I make tuna for myself I’ve tended to use cheaper store brands.

And then something interesting happened. When our dog, Tabasco, emerged from being trapped in the station wagon for four days, we opened a can of cheap store brand tuna for her. She sniffed at it, but wouldn’t eat. “But she loves the Polar tuna,” my wife observed.

I took a closer look at the store brand. The ingredient list included “soy,” which all of our dogs dislike intensely. Soy? In Tuna? How many phytoestrogens had I been ingesting with this tuna? And who knows what the other additives really are. I also buy major brand tuna when it goes on sale (Polar tuna never seems to go on sale), and have some of those on the shelf. I browsed a couple of different major tuna brand websites, and had a lot of trouble getting details about what’s added to them. They list nutrition information (calories, protein, etc), but not ingredients. Kind of makes you wonder why it’s so hard to find an ingredient list. Polar is very up front about what is — and what is not — in their product.

Anyway, when I opened a can of tuna for lunch on Ash Wednesday, I reached for the Polar tuna. “Daddy is eating our tuna!” the kids exclaimed. “Yeah,” I replied, “I figure that if the dog won’t eat the other tuna, maybe Daddy shouldn’t be eating it, either.”

I didn’t intend it as a joke, but the kids thought my comment was very funny. So did my wife.

I think we’ll be giving all that other tuna away to the local food bank. Twenty-nine extra cents is suddenly seeming like a bargain.

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