Apparently acetic acid isn’t a chemical

A good old-fashioned “domestic science” teacher could give us all a quick crash course in what foods to use until when. Anything that is very salty, sugary, fermented, or vinegary will generally keep for ages without the need for chemical preservatives.

These people are cretins, aren’t they?

24 thoughts on “Apparently acetic acid isn’t a chemical”

  1. Aren’t salt and sugar bad for us though? And fermented sounds a lot like alcohol, which is also bad for us. So I guess we all need to switch to a diet of vinegar, although presumably not with fish and chips sprinkled on top.

  2. And contrary to what Chemistry O-level taught us, apparently ethanol, sucrose, and sodium chloride are not chemicals either, although all are preservatives. I don’t suppose lactic acid, another fermentation product, is a chemical either.

  3. “salty, sugary, fermented, or vinegary”

    All of ’em are compounds of various chemical elements or, am I pickled?

  4. As a guinea-pig for the comprehensive school programme, in my 3rd year at secondary, I had to do all the craft CSE courses alongside the academic ones. They were remedial classes for those whose parents couldn’t teach them how to do the basics like scrambled eggs, sew on buttons, or basic woodwork and metalwork. (Boring mostly, but doing wrought iron work with the forge and anvil was fantastic.) The domestic science teachers were just local mothers whose kids had gone out to work.

  5. Because in the mind of most journalists ‘chemical’ means something they imagine is made in a lab by an evil scientist. It’s not dissimilar to the moronic use of ‘organic’ we see these days, which to me appears to mean a carrot without the mud washed off.

  6. Not only cretins, but they’re so humourless.

    ‘Someone brought to my attention a tin of harissa paste with a best-before date of 2099. “I seriously doubt that any bacteria known to man would even dream of attacking it,” he quipped.’

    That’s a quip?

  7. Edward correct, soused you’re not. But in an hour here the sun will be going down, a time for drinking traditionally preserved water. Fish and chips, regrettably, are difficult to find, and no amount of vinegar can make up for that.

  8. “traditionally preserved water”

    It makes me fall over, they’re very good at preserving traditional water in Ireland and as indeed they are in Scotland but Irish is the traditional water nectar that suits me best – chemically speaking.

  9. Standard Guardian procedure:

    • campaign for years against evil supermarkets selling out of date food
    • get laws passed to have “use by” dates put on food
    • campaign against evil supermarkets for selling food with “use by” dates on them.

    repeat forever.

  10. Remember everyone – we should be able to tell, by looking at the ingredients and the date of manufacture on the packaging whether the food can be eaten safely or not, but we MUST MUST MUST be saved from the sheer confusion and difficulty of choosing between different brands of deodorants.

  11. Tim N

    Read an article yesterday saying we should cut down dramatically on eating pickles or other foods preserved in vinegar, so that’s out too. The acidity causes tooth decay.

    One to remind the Russian wife, I should imagine.

  12. Rob W,

    “The domestic science teachers were just local mothers whose kids had gone out to work.”

    I’d rather just kick kids out an hour early than have them doing cookery lessons. They’re only ever taught piss-easy recipes like a scone pizza or cottage pie that require almost no technique, and most of the kids have already done baking at home.

  13. Vinegar is actually an extremely efficient (but unpleasant) way to kill yourself. There was a diet fad for it in the 18th century and kids still die of home remedy type stuff.

  14. One to remind the Russian wife, I should imagine.

    She’d polish off a whole jar of pickled cucumbers in less time that it takes me to get the lid off the thing.

  15. Acetic Acid isn’t a chemical?

    Neither are salt, sugar, or alcohol, apparently.

    Yes, they are cretins, but unfortunately they have a large unquestioning audience.

  16. Has no one been listening?

    What we must avoid is “food that has chemicals in it”. Simple.

    Hence the superiority of Organic fruit and veg. Organic fruit and veg is made from fruit and veg only. No chemicals.

    There are some pendants that will point out that “everything is chemicals”. This is obviously wrong because “chemicals” means bad things. Tasteless too. Penicillin is not a chemical for this reason. Unless it’s over-subscribed. Yes, that’s it.

    What I find astonishing is that after all this time, the Periodic Table has no dietary information or any health warnings at all. Which gasses are fattening for example?

  17. @Andrew M

    I wonder if that is because many sellers of perishables to supermarkets credit them for any out of date stock (and in some cases even collect it for disposal)

  18. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The only widespread non-chemical method of food preservation apart from dehydration is irradiation. What’s the betting Joanna Blythman isn’t a fan of that, either?

  19. Frankly the biggest surprise is how much manufacturers are wasting

    Probably includes stuff like potato peelings, apple cores etc which may be used elsewhere.

  20. BiCR: Heat treatment, freezing and chilling are probably the most common methods. Just speccing out a UHT line at the moment as it happens.

  21. Food manufacturing ‘waste’ is not just binned. It is a liability for the primary manufacturer, and they used to pay other manufacturers to take it off their hands. Offal to pet-food, yeast to Marmite, fish-meal for feeds and fertilisers etc. Machine breakdown stuff, yes, used to go for swill but I think that got stopped a while ago.

    Supermarkets are exceptionally good at clearing their shelves at the end of the day, hence the economic-savvy shoppers being at the store when the price mark-downs are being made. The cold-chain stops for no-one, shelves must be clear for the next delivery.

  22. Who’s the cretin? The food industry that silently abuses the dates, or the consumers who explicitly abuse them?

    FWIW: I have members of my extended family who have thrown out dry pasta because it’s past the date, One of them even tossed out a (pasturized … eww) unopened yogurt that was a day past its date. I had to explain to them that yogurt is, in some sense, already spoiled.

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