Article submitted by Shirley Ready @ The Ready Center
$1.25. That’s all this box of goodness cost the other day at my local Kroger store. There are 4 instant soup envelopes in it and when the conditions are just right, they are FANTASTIC! Don’t let the front picture fool you though, you’re not getting luscious chunks of great chicken in there… more like chicken pellets, but it’s good all the same.
Recently I’d been out all afternoon snowshoeing through the woods dragging my son through the snow on a sled while he was dragging his arms through the loose snow around him. I came back to the warming hut where they have cold sandwiches (oh yay), hot cocoa (that’s better) and these babies! I emptied the contents of one envelope into a Styrofoam cup, poured some hot water over the top and suddenly, I was in the land of sweet chicken noodle soup. It wasn’t my mom’s homemade stuff, but man, this hit the spot.
Now imagine you’re in the aftermath of a real emergency. It could have been an earthquake, long-term power outage, getting stranded in your car, or even lost while out hiking somewhere. If you still have water (or access to it) and a heat source (who doesn’t) and you found one of these in the bottom of your bag, do you think your mood and morale might jump up just a pinch? Yeah, I’d say so. And at a whole 0.45 ounce a pouch, they sure don’t weigh you down either. And they’re a lot better than plain hot water or spruce needle tea on their own.
Funny enough, and it shouldn’t surprise me in the world of prepping, but in the boxed world of grocery store goods, this is a rarity: NO PRESERVATIVES. Whaaaaaa?? So I took a closer look at the ingredients:
Enriched Egg Noodles: Enriched usually means that it’s not original form, BUT in a state of emergency, it’s not going to stop you. In this case the noodles are made of wheat flour, egg, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and folic acid – not bad for a boxed product!
Maltodextrin (Corn): As a mom going away from overly processed food products, I’m not thrilled, but then again it’s corn. What is maltodextrin? I did a little reading on http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-maltodextrin.htm: The body digests maltodextrin as a simple carbohydrate, which means that it is easily converted to quick energy (nice for emergencies). The [corn] starch must be reduced to its basic amino acids, then an enzyme is then used to break it down even further by stripping away proteins and other elements. The result is a white powder that is virtually tasteless and will dissolve quickly in water. This is basically a “filler” with no real nutritional value.
Modified Potato Starch: According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato_starch this stuff is just the washed out, dried out starch of potatoes. Modified means it’s been heat treated to remove the stickiness. Another filler, thickening agent. Moving right along…
Salt: A little sodium? Try 540mg per pouch – that’s 23% of your daily requirements (based on a 2000 calorie diet), but in a survival situation, salt won’t hurt as long as you’re getting your water intake. If you’re getting muscle cramps, this may help as well.
Chicken White Meat (dehydrated): I’m not sure what it would be if it wasn’t dehydrated, but again, not a bad ingredient. Would be nice if it was higher on the list, but then your soup might be all noodle and chicken and no flavor.
Chicken Powder: Have you ever used chicken bouillon? Good news, that’s this, but without all the other fancy spices. Even better news, it’s used as a replacement for MSG. My advice: don’t Google “dangers of MSG” unless you want to know what you’ve been eating. It’s pretty gnarly-nasty stuff.
Chicken Fat: While a bit odd as an ingredient, if you’re looking for a protein accompaniment, fat is it. Nothing earth-shattering here, just 1 g of total fat making up 2 % of your Daily Value. Good news, no saturated or trans fat.
Autolyzed Yeast Extract: Remember how I said don’t Google “dangers of MSG”? If you haven’t, now’s not the time… according to http://www.livestrong.com/article/71755-autolyzed-yeast-extract/, autolyzed yeast extract is a substance that results when yeast is broken down into its constituent components. It contains some free glutamic acid or monosodium glutamate (MSG) and is used as a less expensive substitute for MSG. It’s a flavor enhancer.
Onion Powder: Finally! Something I have in my cupboards at home! Simple nuf.
Carrots: These are dehydrated. If you don’t know what a carrot is, we have issues.
Chicken Broth: I’m not sure the difference between dehydrated chicken broth and chicken powder, but if you don’t taste chicken by now, you never will!
Natural Flavor: Nothing specific listed. Assumedly more chicken and powder.
Tumeric (for color): A spice you can buy at the store – mostly used for its color and savory flavor. Research is being done on its health benefits, but there won’t be enough in this little pouch to cure any major diseases.
Spice: Again, nothing specific listed. Your guess is as good as mine.
Whey (milk): Most likely used as another thickening agent. Fun fact, if you’re lactose intolerant, this dried whey is 76% lactose.
Parsley: Another store-buyable spice.
Garlic Powder: Again, another store-buyable spice.
Hydrolyzed Soy Protein: According to http://www.soyinfo.com/soydefs.shtml#hsp, I’m less impressed with this stuff and as a “natural foodie,” I’m glad it’s at the bottom of the ingredient list. The extraction process of hydrolysis involves boiling in a vat of acid and then neutralizing the solution with a caustic soda then skimmed off the top and dried. In addition to soy protein, it contains free-form amino acids (e.g., MSG) and other potentially harmful chemicals including cancer-causing chemicals in many cases. I’ll stop there, you can check the website for more…
Egg Yolk: When I Googled “Dehydrated Egg Yolk,” I laughed when the first products to come up were emergency supply/hiking stores and instructions on how to dehydrate eggs. Based on that, I’m going to say you’re pretty safe here.
Bottom line, as an everyday product, I would not lean on these little packets to be a regular commodity or something I’d buy much of due to their thickeners and MSG equivalents. However, as a pick me up and as a miracle morale boost for when you’re cold, wet, and in need of something other than hot water or tea, these are real gems! So snag a box or two for less than a couple bucks and hide a little pick-me-up in your vehicle or bug out bag for a later discovery.
Until next time,
The Ready Center