I haven’t bought lunch meat in ages. If we want meat on our sandwiches, we usually stick to tuna, pulled roast beef (from that cow we bought in the spring), or pulled chicken (from pastured hens we buy direct from a farmer).
But not too long ago, I actually needed to prepare a dish with deli meat for a social function. I started perusing the lunch meat aisle at the grocery store, knowing I couldn’t find anything as healthy as farm-fresh meats, but still hoping for something without added MSG, nitrites, and nitrates.
Happily, I found Hormel’s Natural Choice deli meats. The package advertises “No added MSG” and “No added nitrites or nitrates.”
When I got home and scrutinized the packaging claims more carefully, I noticed an asterisk next to the “No added nitrites or nitrates” claim. The qualifying phrase reads, “except for those naturally occurring in natural flavor.”
It sounds harmless enough, like it’s saying that there are no nitrites or nitrates in this deli meat except for what occurs naturally.
But, that’s not what it means.
You see, there’s an ingredient listed called “natural flavor.”
In other words, they’re adding nitrates and nitrates, but calling it “natural flavor.” And they’re selling this deli meat — which is essentially the same as all their other deli meat — at a premium.
This happens all the time when you buy packaged foods.
Here are some of my other least favorite, totally deceitful labels:
“Hand gathered eggs from free-range hens.” — In order to qualify for the “free-range” label, the hens have to have a door opened up from their cages to the outside world for at least 20% of their life. If they live for 10 weeks, that means that they have access to the outside for only 2. But, growers wait until the last 2 weeks to open the cages, and guess what? The hens don’t go outside. Why? They’re afraid. They’ve never been outside their cage. And, even if they should venture out of their cages, would they be in happy, bug-filled grass? Eat insects to up the beta carotene levels and reduce the cholesterol content of their eggs? Nope. It’s just a tiny concrete sidewalk which is also caged-in and sterilized.
“Eggs gathered from cage-free hens.” — All this means is that instead of living 8 to a tiny 8 square-foot cage, the hens live in a giant warehouse. They still never see the light of day or get to eat what their god-given instincts tell them to eat. Therefore, the eggs are still total crap when compared to fresh yard eggs.
“All natural” meats — These meats are minimally processed. Some may even have labels saying “No growth hormones added” or “absolutely no antibiotics added.” Does this mean the animal was raised without growth hormones or the use of antibiotics? NO! It means that no growth hormones or antibiotics were used in processing the meat. Processing the meat is what you do after you’ve killed the animal. It’s how you turn a cow into steaks, hamburger, and roasts. Why would anyone inject growth hormones or antibiotics into meat that’s being processed? They wouldn’t. So, these meat manufacturers are selling so-called “all natural” meats — which are essentially identical to their other antibiotic-laden, disease-riddled, hormone-filled meat raised on a sickening mixture of grains and animal parts (neither of which their bodies are designed to digest) — at a premium price. The only way to get good meat is to know the cow, the pig, the chicken, and the farmer and pay to have the meat processed locally for you. (It’s also WAY cheaper this way!)
“Contains 0 grams of trans-fats” — This means that they have less than .5 grams of trans fats per serving, not that they have no trans fats. A quick check of labels clearly reveals partially-hydrogenated oils among the list of ingredients.