Starvation Or Preservatives


Today’s post is a continuation of last Monday’s, Giving Simple Thanks For Our Food. In that essay I posit American food gets a bad rap.  The way some people complain about our food and our food system you would think we were killing people for fun and profit.

Only people who have never known hunger or starvation could complain about our modern food system.

Historical View

For most of history Homo sapiens have lived in a state of food insecurity. Hunger, famine even, has been the norm.

According to Wikipedia, between 108 BC and 1911 AD there were no fewer than 1,828 major famines in China, or one nearly every year in one or another province……….. and there were 95 famines in Britain during the Middle Ages alone.

Famine is defined as: “…..a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure,  overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality.”

Wikipedia has an incomplete list of famines by country throughout history beginning in 441 B.C.

Except for Saint Lawrence Island in Alaska between 1878-1880 the United States of America has never known famine. There was wide spread hunger during the Great Depression. But not famine.

The death tolls from each of the listed famines on Wikipedia are staggering. I cannot wrap my mind around some of the numbers: 2 million, 10 million, 11 million, 45 million dead from lack of food or starvation.

There are many reasons America has never had a famine. Chief among them are modern day scientific breakthroughs and preservatives. Scientific breakthroughs include pasteurization and modern refrigeration and packaging.

Preservatives – Everything New Is Old Again

Preservatives are nothing new. They have been around almost as long as humans have inhabited the earth. They were used by our ancient ancestors for centuries including Greece and Rome. Ancient peoples looked for ways to preserve grains, which spolied quickly or got bugs.

Probably the earliest preservatives were chemicals, like today, and included salt, sugar, and spices. Other early methods of preserving food included drying, heating, freezing, and fermentation of food.

Not so different than today.

Preservatives are used for more than just preventing spoilage. They are also used to maintain color, texture, and the nutritional value of foods.

Pluses and Minuses

As with most things in life there are trade offs. There is no perfection on Planet Earth. There are benefits to modern day preservatives and there are down sides to them.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with controversial issues these days, the negative aspects of preservatives take center stage and get the lion’s share of publicity. says it best:

When you hear the word “preservative,” your mind probably conjures up an image of strange, harmful chemicals. In this case, the image doesn’t fit the truth. Adding preservatives to food has many substantial benefits that just may save your life. [Emphasis mine.]

The LiveStrong article goes on to list the positive benefits of today’s preservatives and the rigorous regulation process that must be gone through for any preservative to make it into our food supply.

The article looks at six benefits of modern day preservatives: Protection, Taste, Disease protection, Bone health, Fiber, and Protein.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration strictly regulate and test preservatives before approval.

Yes, some people are allergic to preservatives and must avoid them.

Despite the negatives properties of some preservatives on balance I think they have more pluses than negatives, chief among them:





And for this we should give thanks and not constant criticism.   
Featured Recipe           Hawaiian Chicken Wings

Today’s recipe is super simple to make. It does take a bit of time to cook. But other than that nothing could be quicker. It is the ultimate Dump Recipe.

Unlike most Hawaiian Chicken Wings recipes I bake mine instead of frying in oil. That probably saves a few calories if you are watching yours.

They are super delicious and your kids will love them too.

You can use wingettes, drumettes, or as I did today, whole chicken wings. However, because of the long cooking time it is best to use meaty wings. Look for big and meaty wings at the store. Small ones will shrivel up and dry out. Less cooking time does not give you the nice glaze that the long cooking time does.  Because of the long cooking time the chicken becomes very tender and just falls off the bones.

This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

This is what you will need for 3 people:

3 pounds chicken wings

¾ cup brown sugar

1 small can crushed pineapple

1 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnishes:

4 green onions washed and sliced on the diagonal

Pineapple chunks drained

Sesame seeds

Here is what you do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Pat the excess moisture off the chicken wings with paper towels. Salt and pepper the wings on both sides.

Place them in a single layer in a baking pan.

Dump all of the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together well.

NOTES: I use a press for the garlic. Do not drain the pineapple.

Pour or spoon the mixture over the wings.

Bake for 1½ – 2  hours turning every 30 minutes.

Ready to turn after 30 minutes. Nice color, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. 🙂

After 60 minutes.

Turning after 90 minutes. Now look at that color. And the wings are starting to get all ooeey-gooey and yummy.

While you are waiting for the chicken to finish cooking prep any garnishes you are using. Wash the green onions and remove the roots.  Slice on the diaganol. Also drain the amount of pineapple chunks you will be using.

After 105 minutes. I did not cook these wings the full 120 minutes. They looked like they were starting to burn too much.  Burn is good. But not too much. You have to make a decision based on how the wings look and how hot your oven runs. Any more cooking and my wings would have gotten dry.

Remove from oven, let sit about 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.  Then place on a platter. Discard the marinade.

If using any of the garnishes scatter some over the chicken.

These side dishes would go great with  Hawaiian Chicken Wings:

Green Bean Rice Pilaf 

Clean Out the Fridge Salad

Bon appétit!!!


3 pounds chicken wings                               $5.18

¾ cup brown sugar                                    $0.66

1 small can crushed pineapple                     $0.96

1 tbspn of Worcestershire sauce                  $0.12

1 tablespoon soy sauce                               $0.18

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil                     $0.09

2 cloves garlic                                            $0.16

Optional Garnishes*:

4 green onions                                           $0.48

Pineapple chunks drained*                          $0.48

Sesame seeds                                            $0.32

*You can use none, one, two or all.

**Will only need about ½ can.

Total cost = $7.35
Cost per person = $2.45

With Optional Garnishes

Total cost = $8.63

Cost per person = $2.88

Quote of the Day

Some hae meat and canna eat, –
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Robert Burns


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4 comments to Starvation Or Preservatives

  • Maureem

    Love the wing recipe!

    I’m of two minds about preservatives. I’m wary of words I can’t pronounce and can’t buy off a store shelf. I do understand the need to preserve food as the world’s population grows ever larger.

    • Roberta

      Glad you like recipe. 🙂

      I understand about preservatives. As I said there are pluses and minues and trade offs. But on whole they are prefarable to wide spread famine. And for those who don’t want to use any, there are choices in world today. Choices are always good.

  • Roberta,

    You make some good points. Unfortunately, the starvation problem in this world is not down to preservatives, but politics.

    Roughly 1 billion people a day are undernourished or go hungry. This is a shocking statistic that needs to be changed. The reasons for this are many and varied but the statistic does not change. Some think that all of those people are in Africa or India. The food banks all over this country have never been busier and the SNAP (food stamps) program has had record numbers enroll.

    I don’t have any real answers to this problem. Like you, I try to teach people what I know about cooking. That helps a little. There is a food bank that I try to get to to help when I can. Above all, I vote for people that don’t think that the social safety net is for sissies and that “those bums should just go out and get a job.” I have known too many single mom’s with two jobs and still not making ends meet to not wonder what planet some of these politicians are from.

    Sorry for the political rant, but it is politics that is the problem.


    • Roberta


      Agree that the world-wide problem and issue of starvation is more than just preservatives. As you point out, it is not preservatives at all.

      I should have been clearer, and made the point more strongly. I was simply writing that here in America, most of us are not starving and for that we should be more grateful for what we do have.

      Thanks for your insights and the “rant.” You can rant here anytime you want!