If you’ve learned anything reading my blog it’s that I can be really stupid about what I’m eating sometimes. But thanks to my constant lack of discipline, I’ve learned a few things.
For one, ammonium bicarbonate is a really bad thing “they” put in food. Based on that observation, I found a great site to share on how processed your food really is.
Ok, I’ll start from the beginning. I eat breakfast at 6 and lunch at 11:30 AM. (school lunch hours) By the time I get home, I need a snack. I usually sit down and have a cup of white tea and a couple of cookies. I’ve been too lazy to make cookies lately so I’ve tried a few different kinds from Whole Foods. I read the labels and won’t usually…I say usually, buy anything with an ingredient I know nothing about.
I bought ginger snap cookies from Whole Foods recently. They looked safe enough, although I didn’t really know what ammonium bicarbonate was. This is when I’d usually pull out the Iphone and look it up, but I guess I thought, whatever, it’s probably just like baking soda.
I’ve been eating them for a few weeks, and in the last few weeks have noticed a return of mild hot flashes and an annoying little itch. So last night I stopped and thought, ok, the last time I was all flashy was when I realized it was the green tea I was drinking every day. So what is it that I am eating or drinking everyday that’s new?
Right. The cookies.
So I finally looked up ammonium bicarbonate. Please keep in mind I use multiple sources to back up my findings. This is just a succinct version of the more scientific sites. This is what I found under uses on Wiki:
Ammonium bicarbonate is used in the food industry as a raising agent for flat baked goods, such as cookies and crackers, and in China in steamed buns and Chinese almond cookies. It was commonly used in the home before modern day baking powder was made available. In China it is called edible or food-grade “smelly powder”. Many baking cookbooks (especially from Scandinavian countries) may still refer to it as hartshorn or hornsalt  (e.g., FI: “hirvensarvisuola”, NO: “hjortetakksalt”, DK: “hjortetakssalt”, SE: “hjorthornssalt”, “salt of hart’s horn”) In many cases it may be substituted with baking soda or baking powder or a combination of both, depending on the recipe composition and leavening requirements. Compared to baking soda or potash, hartshorn has the advantage of producing more gas for the same amount of agent, and of not leaving any salty or soapy taste in the finished product, as it completely decomposes into water and gaseous products that evaporate during baking. It cannot be used for moist, bulky baked goods however, such as normal bread or cakes, since some ammonia will be trapped inside and will cause an unpleasant taste.
It is commonly used as an inexpensive nitrogen fertilizer in China, but is now being phased out in favor of urea for quality and stability. This compound is used as a component in the production of fire-extinguishing compounds, pharmaceuticals, dyes, pigments, and it is also a basic fertilizer being a source of ammonia. Ammonium bicarbonate is still widely used in the plastic and rubber industry, in the manufacture of ceramics, in chrome leather tanning, and for the synthesis of catalysts.
Really? Holy sh!t… And I wonder why I’ve been sliding back down the histamine ladder with fat eyes, fatigue, itching, and flashes! I’ve pretty much been poisoning myself four cookies a day.
I kept researching food additives and stumbled over this great site. The Environmental Working Group tells you how much of your food is real and how much is processed. It also tells you how much of it is made with genetically modified materials. It lists Nutrition Concern, Ingredient Concern, and Processing Concern. It’s truly a great tool if you want to eat a few processed things and want to know what you’re eating. (A good example of why I might buy packaged food is that I just can’t make a decent cracker, so I buy them.)
I won’t buy anything in a box again before I check this site. I might never buy anything in a box again period! But we know me, and we know that’s not the case. I’ll fall off the wagon again. But at least next time I do, I’ll be armed with way more information about what’s in the box.
Now I’ve got to figure out what I want to snack on today because sadly those cookies are going right in the garbage!