As I live in what I now call an "Asian" household, we have various spices most typically used in Asian cooking. What's most common on our shelf are flavor cubes, or bouillon (side note: I can't think of another word that has 3 vowels consecutively like that). If you're not familiar, these are stocks that have been dehydrated a formed in to cube or powdered. They are often rehydrated in a pot of water to re-form the stock they were once originally.
In reading the ingredients list, on the bouillon packaging, I learned that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is included. My initial reaction was WTF? I always thought this ingredient was completely bad for us. I mean, why else would Chinese restaurants claim that they use NO MSG on their menus?! But being the diligent, inquisitive fatboy that I am, I had to do some research. I am ignorant no longer.
- Is MSG Bad for Your Health? - Science Friday
- MSG (Monosodium Glutamate): Good or Bad? - HealthLine
- The MSG Myth: Are There Really Side Effects? - Eating Well
Despite the more recent conclusions that MSG is not necessarily bad for you, my take is that if you can't pronounce it and if healthcare professionals / scientists can't figure out if it's good or bad for you then it's worth staying away from. Don't get me wrong, if my mother-in-law uses these flavor cubes, and I eat her cooking once in a long while (which is the norm), I'm not going to freak out. It's not going to kill me.
Anyway, I've been on an organic and (mostly) plant-based food kick (I still eat meat and indulge here and there) lately which isn't likely to change in the future considering the benefits I've been reaping, so it's unlikely that I'd encounter any MSG-related problem. More on my organic kick in a future post. In the meantime, have a read of the links and decide what you think about MSG.