Monday, June 6, 2011

The Great Salad Dressing Debacle

My first experience traveling abroad was in July of 2009.  I went with a small group tour to Italy (with Gap Adventures - HIGHLY recommend them).  In Europe, it is much less common to find foods that are highly processed or contain artificial ingredients.  There are daily markets swarming with local people buying their fruits and vegetables.  Fresh bread is plentiful.  Meals are enjoyed outdoors, slowly, with good company and a glass of wine.  It was in a small town called Lucca that I was properly introduced to the tangy wonder that is balsamic vinegar.  Our group poured balsamic over our salads and we dipped our bread in it mixed with a little extra virgin olive oil. To this day that is the only thing I will put on my salads.

A couple of days ago I made the unfortunate mistake of forgetting my oil and vinegar mixture at home and was facing a dry salad for lunch at work.  Spying a bottle of Botlhouse Farms Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing in the communal fridge, I thought I would give it a shot.  A quick glance at the label showed a short list of ingredients so I poured it on.  Terrible mistake!  A flat, watery taste greeted my mouth with the first bite.  A more thorough look at the list of ingredients showed the number one item in this bottle was apple juice.  Are you kidding me, Bolthouse Farms?  If we as a society didn't use a salad as an excuse to pig out on fried meat, sodas, and fat-laden snacks, then salad dressing companies wouldn't take liberties like using APPLE JUICE as the NUMBER ONE ingredient in BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE to reduce fat.  

This, of course, led me on a tirade about how the entire salad dressing industry is a sham.  We don't need processed, bottled dressings full of artificial colors and unrecognizable ingredients.  Next time you eat a salad, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over it, pour on the balsamic, and let me know what you think.

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