A little knowledge goes a long way. I have been increasingly concerned with the types of foods that I am eating. I want them to be free of chemicals, additives (whatever those are), and fillers. In short, when I buy cheese, I actually want it to be cheese. As such, I have started reading food labels.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed some fine print on the front of the sausage I was buying. "BHT and BHA added to preserve flavor" it said. I paused for a few moments, looked briefly at the other sausage choices that were available and added it to my cart. I filed those six little letters away to research at a later time. I figured, I had been eating that sausage brand forever and it probably wasnt a new ingredient, just a new label.
Regardless of the reason that I noticed the BHT and BHA abbreviations on my food, I finally got around to researching them (after purchasing several more sausage type foods all with the similar warnings). BHT stands for butylated hydroxytoluene and BHA stands for butylated hydroxyanisole. Basically they are fat preservatives added so that the sausage I purchased stays fresh longer. The general consensus on the multiple websites I consulted regarding these preserving agents was that they may affect your health. Apparently they arent real sure what it can do to you (one site said that while it cured some kinds of cancer, it promoted others) but I really dont want to stick around and find out.
I do not feel good about having something added to my food to make it last longer on the shelf. I dont want the food I buy to be too old, even if it still tastes good. Most of the time after I grocery shop the food sits in my fridge for a week or more anyways. While I hate when my food goes bad before I get to it (which doesnt happen to me much any more), I certainly dont want it full of preservatives that will pickle me from the inside.
I suppose I am glad that they have the labels on the packages so now I can determine if this preserving agent is in other foods I also eat. As for my sausage, Purdue has a butcher shop that sells pork sausage and my mom got me a meat grinder attachment for my kitchen aid so I am sure to be making my own sausage soon.
I did end up using the sausage in this great looking pasta. The first couple bites tasted funny to me but it was all in my head since the BHT warnings were fresh on my mind. I recommend making this dish with some additive-free sausage; it really was delish. The hot italian sausage, once I got over the fact that it was tainted, and the spicy arugula compliment the earthy bell peppers well.
Bell Pepper, Sausage, and Arugula Orecchiette*
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 large red onion
1/2 lb. spicy italian sausage
1/3 c. chopped flatleaf parsley
1 bunch arugula
1/2 lb. orecchiette cooked
1 c. pasta water
Brown the sausage with a bit of olive oil.
Meanwhile slice the bell pepper and onion into strips.
Add the bell pepper to the pan when the meat is half way cooked. When the meat with fully cooked add the onions. Delaying adding the onions allows some of their color to remain once the dish is served.
Saute the veggies in the sausage fat until just tender.
Add the chopped parsley.
Add the cup of pasta water to the sauce. Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce.
Toss loosely chopped arugula with the pasta and serve.
Top with parm for a little salty kick.
*Though the above recipe is my own, it was inspired by a similar one in the Everyday Foods Cookbook I posted about previously.