Thursday, March 6, 2008


I get home and at 9PM I can't keep my eyes open so I decided to go to bed, expecting to conk out and barely gain consciousness when the alarm went off in the morning. Well for some unknown reason I woke up at 2. I tossed and turned for a while until I gave up on falling back asleep. So naturally, what do I do? Pull out my computer, which had a nice happy spot with me in my bed and start reading my food blogs and whatnot that has been accumulating.

I came upon this article about MSG that caught my attention. Now I was under the impression it was pretty much wiped out, at least in the US, because of assorted health whatevers. I never really felt the need to know more, other than it was something bad but it has been taken care of, kind of like Polio. I guess I was mistaken.

Even now, after “Chinese restaurant syndrome” has been thoroughly debunked (virtually all studies since then confirm that monosodium glutamate in normal concentrations has no effect on the overwhelming majority of people), the ingredient has a stigma that will not go away.

But then, neither will MSG.

Cooks around the world have remained dedicated to MSG, even though they may not know it by that name. As hydrolyzed soy protein or autolyzed yeast, it adds flavor to the canned chicken broth and to the packs of onion soup mix used by American home cooks, and to the cheese Goldfish crackers and the low-fat yogurts in many lunchboxes.

I know I have seen hydrolyzed soy protein and autolyzed yeast on the packaging of a lot of foodstuffs but I never really thought about it. I am vaguely wary that something that has had so much press behind it is hidden in so many pantry staples. Though not surprised, I am kind of curious how all these food companies have kept it under wraps so well.

I am not aware having any issues that people claim to have with MSG so I don't really care. The only trouble I have is if I have a lot of packaged food type stuff is I get headaches if I eat a lot of it. I had always assumed that was because of the salt in it causing me to be dehydrated but who knows, it could be the MSG.

My solution to this is don't eat too much of it. I think packaged food is great. It definitely has a place in my pantry. It's a convenience item that tastes good when you don't have the time or inclination to cook. I was especially amused by the conclusion of the article:

Thus, the richest source of umami remains your local convenience store. Grab a tube of Pringles or a bologna sandwich, and glutamic acid is most likely lurking there somewhere.

Nacho-cheese-flavor Doritos, which contain five separate forms of glutamate, may be even richer in umami than the finest kombu dashi (kelp stock) in Japan.

No wonder they taste so good.

That concludes my likely incoherent 3AM post. Maybe I'll try to go back to sleep now.

1 comment:

Somebody2Love said...

I came across this a while ago and decided MSG is good. All it is is an ionic bond between a sodium atom and an amino acid. Amino acids are protein...and last I checked the pro-protein craze was still going on. Sodium is needed by your body. I think the flavor bang you get per molecule of sodium is a lot better with MSG than with table salt. Eating 10g of salt per day is probably not a good idea but eating 1-2g per day from MSG seems just as good (if not better) to me that 1-2g of NaCl.