Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chewing on Guar Gum

I've been wondering about guar gum for while--is it evil or benign. I thought it might be evil based on the tone of voice Michael Pollan used when he said the words but I got some yogurt at a farmer's market that listed guar gum as one of the ingredients. Here's a recap of the comments from the folks over at The Ethicurian (answering my query under a completely different topic):

Ali said: Re, guar gum - I did some research on it a while back. I don’t think it’s anything to fear. Goopy stuff, made from a seed, nothing to suggest it’s harmful. http://cleanerplateclub.wordpress.com/2007/02/22/the-guar-gum-story-told-in-nine-haiku/.

Migraineur said: use guar in my own kitchen occasionally. My problem with guar in commercial food products is that it is one of those shortcuts that is used to make up for poor quality. For example, you can whip 42% cream practically with a fork, but lower butterfat cream needs some help. With yogurt, I’d guess it’s because Americans are so conditioned to artificially thickened yogurt that your farmer feels he needs a little help to make the texture a bit more like what his customers expect.

Anna said: In addition to thickening, the added gums help products like yogurt stay emulsified, instead of naturally “weeping” a bit of liquid whey.

So, guar gum is not evil, could even be organic, but is probably not local. Thanks Ethicurian commenters, for helping me sort this out.

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