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Bean gum syndrome

LATELY, I have been noticing food packages. Over the years a longer and longer list of ingredients has appeared on labels in addition to the main foodstuff in the container. Sometimes this runs to more than two dozen names. This trend indicates to me the growing importance of side ingredients and the decline in the main product one is supposed to be buying.

We may eventually buy our food on an entirely different basis. I see the day coming when the supermarket will sell cans of chemical additives as if they are main dishes, with a little bit of food as flavoring. On the bottom of the label there will be the words ``Flavored with chicken noodle soup.'' I can visualize a section of canned goods labeled only ``thiamine.'' If one reads far enough down the list on the can he will find, near the bottom, ``2 percent chow mein noodles.''

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One of the weirdest lists of extras may be found on a package of cottage cheese. In addition to the cheese, I was somewhat startled to read I was also eating ``locust bean gum.'' Other things, like lactic acid, I more or less understood, but the locust bean gum took me longer to digest, figuratively speaking.

I suppose eventually natural foods will give place to chemical processes, producing a product that is guaranteed to keep you thin and will deny you all the yummy stuff that makes things taste good.

It is too bad that real food, which we have been eating for thousands of years, is no good anymore. We now have to eat things compounded with chemicals that are either good for you, or good for the economy, it's hard to tell which.

In the days to come when someone asks, ``What did you have for lunch?'' one's answer will have to be something like, ``Well, I had a cup of ascorbic acid, tomato soup flavor.''

But all is not lost. I can still look at the list of ingredients on my box of vanilla ice cream. It says only milk, cream, sugar, and natural vanilla. I understand what all of these are. This doubles my enjoyment.

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