76 ingredients in a sandwich: it’s the processed-food Era

Last month I booked my ticket with BA to go back to Italy to surprise my mom on her birthday day. Few days later I was told the flight to Rome was cancelled. The only acceptable solution: a low-cost flight.
I forgot what I have learned during my several trips, including the fact I should always take with me some food I like to eat during the flight, and today on the plane I started craving for food. I asked for the food list and was told that only two sandwiches were available, both expiring on that day: a vegetarian one and a chicken one. I bought the chicken one for 6€. “Delightfully classic – Chicken and winter slaw“. Yum! I thought.
I opened the package, looked suspiciously at the sandwich as I could barely see any filling, and then continued reading “chicken breast and winter slaw with spinach and onion marmalade on farmers bread”.
I mean…farmers bread, yum! How genuine and organic does this short description sound!
Second bite: I tasted the onion, but not the chicken yet. “What’s inside this sandwich?” I though. And I read the ingredients on the back on the package.
76 ingredients. You think you are eating bread (flour, water and yeast), chicken, coleslaw, spinach and onion marmalade. The truth is, these few ingredients are only a minor percentage of what you are eating, and most of the others are “mysterious” stuff.

Let’s start reading:
Farmers bread: fortified wheat flour (fortified, wow! I think a fortified bread is needed in this sandwich to resist the assault of the coleslaw army…) made with wheat flour, calcium charmin are, iron, niacin (what’s that?!), thiamin (what?!), water, barley malt flour, millet, sunflower seeds, yeast (finally, the yeast!), sugar, salt, wheat gluten, emulsifier E472(e), soya flour (isn’t this a farmers bread? Which farmer would use soya flour? In the Far East maybe…).
The list continues. Endless. It includes some agents as Agent E300 (luckily there are no bits of Agent 007 James Bond in this sandwich, but you never know!), several preservatives, emulsifiers, other chemicals. The onion marmalade is made with onion powder. The low fat spread has no traces of proper cheese in it but a long list of powders (e.g. buttermilk powder), stabilisers and preservatives.
By the time I reached the end of the list, I was not hungry anymore. Why do I have to ingest 76 ingredients, most if them just chemicals, when I order a chicken and coleslaw sandwich?
Why can’t I have spread cheese instead of this odd unhealthy mix? And why the onion marmalade has bit onion power in it, but then you see pieces of something in the marmalade: what is that then?
We are all a bit getting distracted by the things to do in the everyday life and we easily compromise with an easy, ready-to-eat meal, which is stuffed with preservatives, emulsifiers and other chemicals. And we are getting less and less used to taste proper authentic home-made food. Though, in the few occasion we have the luck to eat some proper authentic home-made food, our palate recognises it, jubilates and we get ecstatic!
I am still staring at the sandwich package. What are all these agents and numbers and chemicals in my sandwich? The mystery still stands and half of my sandwich is waiting to be eaten. Not sure I will finish it, even if I am this hungry.
I may decide to leave it there, starve for a bit longer, but then get a great reward once I arrive home, where my mom is surely preparing some delicious home-made dish.


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