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The Good Old Days
An Essay by Wilma

              The good old days may not have been as good as claimed but they most certainly were simpler.  Take cream for instance.  I remember cream as either coffee or whipping cream and the top cream of milk which my Dad used in his coffee.  Cream according to my memory, and supported by a 1964 edition of  Joy of Cooking,  is that fatty part of whole milk which rises to the surface on standing.  The longer it stands, the richer  it  gets, with coffee cream being about 18% to 20% butterfat, light whipping cream 32% and heavy whipping cream 40%.

             Recently I have found cream an ordeal to whip,  taking as much as ten to fifteen minutes to reach a wimpy consistency.  I wonder if my memory or my mixer are faulty as I remember in the past having to be careful not to over beat the cream into butter.

            When I complain to my friend, Jacque, she asks me if I have read the list of ingredients.  The list of ingredients?  What list?  Can one item, cream, be considered a list?  Being concerned that the butterfat content wasn’t what it should be, I had tried to check it but to no avail.  All I found was the percentage of the adult daily recommended amount each serving provided, which I found most unhelpful.  But nothing about the total percentage of butterfat.  According to Jacque, however,  skim milk is sometimes added.  I am stunned.  If skin milk is added is it still cream?

             This I must investigate, so off to QFC I go.  And sure enough the half pint of QFC whipping cream has a list of ingredients;  cream, skim milk, carrageenan, dextrose, mono diglycerides, and polysorbate 80.  The  pint of Darigold, no half pint is available, also has all the above ingredients listed except for the skim milk.  It is more expensive but buy it I do and later discover it whips up like a dream, quickly and firmly.  One mystery solved.  The other, what are all the other unpronounceable ingredients?

             I passed on this new information to Delores and again learn something new.  According to her the half pints add skim milk, the pints do not.  I am now off to the Greenwood market for more research.

             Here I find three brands, only the Organic have both half and full pints.   Darigold with a whipping and heavy whipping cream, is only in pints and has only the unpronounceables added.   Western in half pints, has skim milk added as well as the unpronounceables, and Organic is just plain old fashioned cream with no list of ingredients.  None have the percentage of butterfat listed, however.

            Back to the research.  What are the unpronounceables?  What are these strange items being added to whipping cream?  Thank goodness for Google.  Here I learn that carrageenan is a thickening agent made from red seaweed by using a powerful alkali solvent and is a questionable safe additive, that dextrose is glucose or sugar, and mono diglycerides are emulsifiers as is polysorbate 80.  Do I really want all these things added to my cream when good old fashioned cream will do the job?  I don’t think so.  From now on it’s the organic for me.

             When talking to Delores earlier, she told of Darrell’s trip to the grocery store for half and half for his coffee and coming home with a carton of  it identified as fat free.  This boggles the mind.  What is it half and half of?  Should such creams be spelled differently as the artificial crab is by changing the “c” in cream to a “k”?

            So life isn’t simple any more.  Producers of our food products slip in these strange ingredients in place of the real thing, put less food in the same size container to fool us but keeping the same price, of course, and do all kinds of strange things to our fresh produce  to make it look good while making it less tasty, however.  On the other hand, we have resources such as Google to check up on them.  I guess it is up to us to do so.



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