Are Healthy Restaurants Sneaking Preservatives Into Your Food?

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Preservatives in restaurants

I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking for a restaurant to eat at I’ll always look for the telling signs that they are using fresh ingredients.  Some of these signs include:

  • A menu that is changed at least seasonally, if not even more often.
  • A menu that utilizes a lot of fresh seasonal produce.
  • As well as a menu that doesn’t have that many options.

The more options a menu has the more food they have to stock.

Since it’s not conducive to stock fresh ingredients for 24 entree items, restaurants have to resort to frozen or prepackaged ingredients and rely heavily on pantry items, such as dried pasta, instead of freshly made.

Although, even when you do find that small restaurant with a menu that changes daily and utilizes more fresh produce than you could possibly eat, they still may be using food additives in order to keep their “fresh” ingredients fresher longer.

One example of this that I was very surprised to learn about was that restaurants would press their lemon juice once per day or less and then dump citric acid in it so that it would keep longer.  Basically, degrading health supportive alkaline forming lemon juice into something no better than the prepackaged lemon juice you can buy at your local SAD (standard American diet) supermarket.

Although citric acid doesn’t sound so bad, it can be harmful to people who have very weak immune systems and toddlers.  Although citric acid is found in fruit and can be processed from citrus sources it is more likely to be processed in the much cheaper fashion that is popular in the food industry today.

This process involves feeding black mold sugar and then harvesting the citric acid they excrete as a byproduct for this process.

Yes, I’m referring to the black mold found in houses.  This black mold has been associated with respiratory and immune issues among the young, old and infirm.  So in some cases citric acid has been associated with allergic reactions.

The problem is that if you are one of these people (or just someone who wants to keep chemicals out of their bodies) and you order something with lemon juice in it, chances are you aren’t being told about the citric acid they may have added.

So citric acid is commonly used in commercial juice and smoothie bars since they need so much lemon and orange juice.

A friend of mine from culinary school was surprised to see that a very successful and hip restaurant that highlights fresh ingredients was using citric acid.  It is also sold in restaurant depots all over the world reiterating its use.

Some tips for avoiding citric acid in restaurants…

  • Ask for your food NOT to be cooked with lemon juice.
  • Ask for lemon wedges on the side of items such as salads, juices, smoothies and salmon so you know they have been freshly cut.

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