There’s a new trend in the country of cooking more at home and eating out less. Perhaps inspired by the economy, or just our ‘do it yourself’ attitude, there is an enormous collection of ‘closet cooks’ in Alaska. We each have that special, closely guarded recipe received from a friend, who got it from their neighbor, who received it from a friend...and somewhere down the line was the actual artist who may have been lost in the chain.
We’re also getting hotter! Reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture say that compared to the 1970s, Americans now consume 600 percent more chili pepper, 300 percent more cumin, and 1,600 percent more ginger.
Most of us consume over 3 pounds of spices annually! Many have noted this trend as we turn from meager grocery store offerings and search out ‘gourmet’ spices, blends and the newest trend – organic spices. Why organic? Well, if you are trying to cook healthier, why not? Many non-organic spices and herbs are treated with pesticides, exposed to gamma radiation and can contain fillers or additives of lesser quality. According to the FDA, food products using irradiated spice as an ingredient do not have to be labeled!
Of similar concern is tea. Buying bagged tea may seem more convenient, but did you know that typically, tea bags use fannings which are the left-overs after larger leaf pieces are gathered for sale as loose tea? Purchasing organic, loose leaf tea means you are getting the whole, unadulterated taste of the tea – not just the left over dredges!
So whether you’re preparing that fresh King Salmon or creating some other culinary masterpiece, thinking twice about the quality of your seasonings and spices can add to the overall success of your final product. Oh, and remember that spices DO expire! Time to clean the cupboard?