I wanted to write a blog post about MSG or monosodium glutamate, or the sodium salt of the amino acid glutamic acid from my stand point. Are you afraid of the word MSG? Because I do, I was brought up to fear or stay clear of MSG. My mom and media always said how MSG is bad for our health, American even have the so-called, "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" anecdotes. Thus over the years, MSG is kinda taboo to me, a product to avoid while shopping at the Asian stores. It became so much so that I felt unease when I spotted a packet of MSG in my friend's kitchen cabinet. I believe I have been brainwashed.
In reality, MSG is concluded as safe by FDA for most people when eaten at customary amount. It usage is like salt, just a little to season the food at the end for the ultimate "Umami" taste, the so-called fifth taste or meaty/savory taste. A lot of researches had been done on MSG and the results were the same, it is a safe "food enhancer" or "food addictive" to use. Chinese and Japanese have been using MSG for years with no problem. They openly used MSG in their cooking shows (which prompted me to research about MSG in the first place). I wonder what would happen if the American food cooking show openly uses MSG in their cooking shows?
Our bodies need Glutamate or amino acids. Our bodies produce it. Even human breast milk has a fair amount of glutamate compared to cow milk. If nature thinks amino acids is safe for newborn baby so why are we so afraid of it? Tomato, mushroom, soy sauce, Parmesan cheese have natural occurring Glutamate (free Glutamate) in them. We eat them with no problem because it makes the food taste better. Modern commercial MSG (sodium form of natural occurring glutamate) is produced by fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, or molasses. Fermented products such as soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce have levels of glutamate similar to foods with added MSG. Lots of bottled Chinese sauces, American canned food, broths, chips, condiments, bouillon cubes have MSG in them. I eat them and I never suffer from any sort of "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome". We are so taboo of the word MSG that the manufacturers had to come out with a different name to conceal it. Such as hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, yeast extract, soy extracts, hydrolyzed yeast just to name a few. Even now if you do a search on Monosodium Glutamate, lots of anti-MSG web pages are there.
Recently as I was watching the Chinese cooking show, the host even said the latest finding on MSG is actually good for health. It also promotes appetite especially for older people, picky children, pregnant women to at least make them eat some food and thus increase the nutrient intake. Also read that by using MSG, you can significantly cut down the salt intake. But I am so brainwashed that I just couldn't pick up a packet of MSG from the store. But I have no problem picking up chicken stock granules though, my reason being it is chicken stock with added MSG, as opposed to 100% MSG. I know I am kidding myself, even you cooks out there who use the commercial chicken, beef or vegetable stocks, bouillon cubes to cook your food, you know MSG does make the food taste better. Hey, you loved to add Parmesan cheese and soy sauce on your food right?
Why are we so brainwashed? FDA already concluded that MSG is safe except to some small amount of over-sensitive people after some intensive research . It is so controversial that there are more bad news of MSG than good on the web. But billions of Chinese have been using MSG like salt as another form of food enhancer, we have been eating it unconsciously or consciously in restaurants and packaged food all this time. SO?
I wanted to conclude that I am brainwashed as even now my mom and older aunties still telling me to avoid MSG as it is bad for me. But I did some research and I can see the fact and I am going to be more open-minded because I know most of the bottled sauces have MSG in it, even soy sauce that Chinese cook can go without and frankly I have been consuming MSG all my life just in another form. So, why all the hype about the word "MSG" or "Ajinomoto"? = I am kidding myself. As for the majority of population, MSG is safe unless you have vitamin B-6 deficiency, or overly-sensitive to MSG.
I would love to thanks Tracie Moo from Bitter Sweet Flavours for passing me these two lovely awards. I am not going to pass it around as I stop doing tag long ago. Thanks though Tracie! :)