Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Apparently it's not about English as a Second Language

The Korea Times has an article about 'Extended Shelf Life' products. There I was fancifully imagining ESL Milk's special English properties. It would compete with Einstein milk (clearly with physics-enhancing properties) and DHA milk with "DHA naturally secreted directly from cows" (I shouldn't use quotes- that's close but not quite right.)
Oh, this photo is from South Korea ESL Blog.
The article tangentially describes a troubling change in shopping and eating habits.
First, an amusing quote:
To meet these "non-fresh'' demands, local manufacturers are catering for a variety of options with longer life and taste.
A 'longer ...taste'. Hmmm. The reporter has been writing about the claims of Oriental Medicine too long.
Confectionery maker Shany began selling mass-produced bread made with natural yeast baked under an all-natural fermentation process.
While typical expiration dates for baked goods are usually a week-long, Shany's latest stays fresh for about 15 days.
North America is moving away from bread with high preservatives content while Korea may soon embrace their version of Wonderbread.
A final quote:
A recent report by global consulting firm Frost & Sullivan showed that the study of antimicrobials and other antioxidants _ which are considered ideal extenders _ will be at an all-time high and the demand for ESL goods is expected to have a high impact from 2006 to 2012.
Retailers welcome the forecast, as extended shelf life means they are left with better margins by cutting goods gone bad.
"Retailers like full shelves and if goods can be kept fresh for long, it serves a benefit for manufacturers, retailers and consumers,'' said Lee.
Science Friday, an NPR weekly radio program, recently had a panel discussing food and food quality in the US. One of the panelists commented that Twinkies which can remain 'fresh' just about forever, cost less than fresh, unprocessed food and what a sad description of our priorities that was. The audio can be found here.
I don't know what tomatoes used to taste like but I've listened to oldtimers go on about how farmers selected for beautiful red tomatoes and somehow forgot to select for taste. This new change is not about taste but quality and healthiness.
Extended Shelf Life food would be great for travellers but do we need it at home?
Do I sound like an oldtimer now?
The earliest example I can think of regarding rushing to use ESL products would be vitamin pills. I give one to Kwandong Alex everyday. They don't go bad and you can buy six months of a year's supply at once.
But the pills aren't perfect. Yahoo search turned up this site which describes vitamin C pills and how overdosing can damage your DNA. Its hard to overdose with oranges - you'd need a truckload of them but only a few concentrated pills. It also mentions that the foods high in vitamins are also healthy for other reasons - meaning you would need to take the pill and the fruit for full benefit.
Well, now I know what I'm looking at in the supermarket. I won't be buying the ESL milk exclusively out of amusement anymore.


Marcus said...

I drink E-Plus milk, which, combined with the 'Happy Happy' song they play at E-mart, turns me into a mindless consumer. "Yes . . . must . . .fill the . . . cart"
I think the song alone would do it.

skindleshanks said...

My beef is that most of the milk sold in Korea is UHT (ultra-high temperature) pasturized, which changes the taste and renders the milk useless for some purposes, such as making cheese. I usually by the Pasteur LHT milk - you can see it on the label of some of their products.

I can remember when we were growing up, buying raw organic milk straight fom the farmer, making our own butter, etc. Too bad most consumers these days don't now what they're missing.

kwandongbrian said...

I find myself humming the song occasionally while at the store - embarrassing.

Skindleshanks, NPR recently discussed farm-fresh products and raw milk came up - one man loved it. The link is in this post but the legality of selling was mentioned. See you on Saturday.

skindleshanks said...

Yeah, in Canada it's illegal now to sell raw milk, but the easy way around it is to buy a "share" in a cow. Several families pay for part of the cow and pay the farmer for upkeep. Since it is their own cow, they are entitled to consume their share of the milk it produces.