February 3, 2014

Label Madness Monday: Is Nothing Sacred?

Today’s label post takes a look at chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Not the world’s most common ingredient, I grant you, but there’s a method to my madness. I’ll be writing a few blog posts here and there with tips on creating homemade versions of your favorite sauces, dressings, and condiments. Some will be Paleo, some will lean more toward Primal, some will be low-carb, but one umbrella they’ll all fall safely under is REAL FOOD.

So I went looking for these smoked jalapeños in an attempt to make my own chipotle aioli. (Okay, it wasn’t really an aioli because I can’t be bothered to make my own mayonnaise, so I was going to finagle something with sour cream and yogurt. Also: does anyone reading this watch Throwdown with Bobby Flay? Am I wrong in thinking that any time one of the dishes involves an aioli—especially one with jalapeños or poblanos, the judges should pretty much be able to guess it’s Bobby’s?  [Also: anything with blue corn.])

Aaaanyway, on to the label.

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Sounds simple enough, right? (HA! Just you wait.)

I’m expecting the smoked jalapeños, tomatoes, maybe some other kinds of chili-type ingredients, like cumin, cayenne, or whatever. But lookey, lookey, what have we here? 

Corn oil! And sugar OR high fructose corn syrup—Goya can’t even tell us which one for certain, because they don’t know! Could be sugar, could be HFCS—whatever was cheapest at wholesale that day! (This is the same for labels you see that say things like, corn or canola or soybean or cottonseed oil. The manufacturers don't know and have no desire to print new labels with the exact ingredients on them every time they switch 'cuz there's a sale on cottonseed oil. Oy.)


Can I get ONE SINGLE processed item that doesn’t have any SOY or CORN in it?

And the reason is exactly what I mentioned in this post when I talked about the soy protein isolate. The same holds true for corn. First, we subsidize it with our tax dollars, so it’s extra super-duper cheap for food processors to use as a raw material. Second, after they extract all the oil from the corn (which is a feat of modern engineering in and of itself), they’re left with the protein and carbohydrate fractions of the corn. That’s why we see “hydrolyzed corn protein” in so many products, plus corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, and, of course, the most ubiquitous of the ubiquitous, high fructose corn syrup. (Actually, now that I think of it, I wonder why they don’t make corn protein powders like they do with soy. Hm. Note to food manufacturers: THAT WAS NOT A REQUEST!)

Also: why is there sugar or HFCS in this anyway? They're chipotles. They're not supposed to be sweet. The point is: take nothing for granted. Never assume. Read labels on everything.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point, so I’ll spare you my usual novel-length post. I’ll be back next Monday with a more in-depth and scathing look at ingredients.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about the wacky places corn ends up, I recommend the documentary King Corn. It’s available via Netflix (DVD only, no streaming), or you can check it out here on YouTube. Edutainment at its finest. 

P.S. Public service announcement: Please get the word right. It’s chipotle. Chee-pōt-lāy. The L is after the T, not before it. If I hear one more person say chipolte (chee-pōl-tāy), I’m gonna scream. It’s even worse when someone really mangles it, a la “chipottle.” (Rhymes with waddle. I kid you not. I heard that once.) Microsoft Word spellcheck knows what the real word is. Make sure you do, too. ;-)

Remember: Amy Berger, M.S., NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition.


  1. Soy cow feed has been linked to increasing mastitis in cows and shortened life spans (six years as against twelve or more years in the past). The question is if the soy-fed cows also give us humans (women especially) more mastitis or cancers via the milk we drink. Science does not seem to be conclusive as yet, but cows should get grass, not soy, and this soybean stuff should be treated with care in human nutrition. Maybe certain fermented soys products in traditional Asian kitchen are harmless, but this stuff nowadays is put into everything ...

    1. Totally agree...we really have no idea what all this extra soy is doing to us -- not to mention that the vast majority of it is genetically modified, which opens up a whole other can of worms. It's just everywhere, added to places we would never expect it.