Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bread Fan 

There's this little 4 year old girl I know who's had to be placed on a really restrictive diet. Restrictive, that is, if you live in modern America where the easy thing to do is buy prepared foods, whether canned, frozen, boxed, or from a restaurant. She's not allowed anything containing preservatives (very hard to do, even if you make it from scratch because even the individual ingredients may have some preservatives in them, or be "vitamin enhanced"), artificial colors, or soy.

The first two are tough but possible.

The last one? Soy? That's virtually impossible to comply with unless you may every single thing yourself. Foods that 6 months ago were free of soy suddenly have soy, soy lecithin, soy protein, hydrolyzed protein, protein isolate or concentrate, textured vegetable protein, protein extender, vegetable gum, vegetable broth, miso, edemame, or pea protein in it. The list grows practically daily of foods that now contain soy. Salad dressings, bread, granola bars, cereals, cookies, crackers, ice cream, baby foods, hamburger patties, margarines, candy, canned tuna, canned soups, artificial cheeses, cream chocolates, gravy powders or prepared gravies, hot dogs, sausages, canned Vienna sausages, caned chili, almost all frozen pies (dinner or dessert), seasoned salt, shortenings, canned soups and stews, bouillion cubes, frozen TV dinners, cooking oils, cakes and snack cakes, canned or boxed frostings, canned meat in sauces, and even some pastas!

Manager, having a soy allergy that is getting worse with constant exposure to it, is determined to have an array of soy-free products (and cannot herself make anything containing soy).

For this particular little girl, her parents don't know how to bake bread, or make salad dressings or ice cream or anything that is normally purchased already prepared, so she's been limited in what she can eat - basically raw or cooked fruits and vegetables. I connected them with the food coop where they can purchase free-range meats that haven't got food coloring to make it redder or brighter looking so she can at least have meat again. And I bake all her cookies and cakes and breads.

Something many people don't even think about is all the other products that contain soy - lotions, soaps, printer's ink, pet foods, fabrics, blankets, adhesives, lubricants, and paper. Manager's allergy is sensitive enough that if she's near a printer using soy ink, she'll have trouble breathing. Soaps and lotions also cause her problems.

I understand soy is a cheap, renewable resource, but so is canola and hemp and a variety of other oils. Soy is in the top 5 allergens, up there with peanuts, milk, and wheat. So why is practically every commercially produced granola bar in the supermarket suddenly made with soy? Why is every commercially produced salad dressing and sauce made with soy? Breakfast cereals, made from whole grains, are suddenly being "fortified" with soy. They were nutritious enough before soy was added.

I hope this trend reverses soon, because there's a huge group of people who are suddenly finding themselves unable to eat a lot of different things.

I wish we had the funding to open the Cracked Cauldron because this enormous market just opened up for us - all the people who can no longer buy Oreos or Nutter Butters or Quaker Granola Bars and such would buy our yummy sandwich cookies and granola bars not only because they taste really good, but because they are soy-free.

In the meantime, I'm baking snack cakes and breads and cookies for this one little girl, and wish I could do it for more.

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