August 4, 2012

A Story About Ketchup

Okay folks, this deserves its own blog post. It may seem strange, it may end up being short n' sweet, but goodness me - it's a BIG deal!

So about two years or so ago I stumbled upon some unsweetened ketchup at the PCC Market near our home. I was stoked to read the ingredients: tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, salt, maltodextrin (corn) and garlic powder. No hidden sweeteners, no organic sugars, just tomatoes n' seasoning (and corn, which I didn't see 'till today - lame and unnecessary!). I figured, why can't all ketchup be like this? Why do we have to sweeten this fancy-pants condiment? Anyhow, I tried it and enjoyed it much so, but let me tell you... my taste buds are very much used to sweetened ketchup, so I had to train ye ol' buds to enjoy the true taste of ketchup. And they did, and I never went back to sugar ketchup.
A year-ish went by, though, I had left ketchup because I simply didn't consume it as much. I must have used up a bottle, and forgotten to re-stock. Also, PCC isn't exactly right nect to our home, so the out-of-the-way drive was less than attractive, and we didn't take the trip. I did tell my hubby numerous times that I wanted some PCC action soley to pick up a glass jar of my unsweetened ketchup, but again, we just never went - the ketchup just danced in my head for months.

Fast forward to pregnancy days and I found meself craving a large amount of lentil burgers and baked sweet tater fries. Sweet potato fries can be dipped in pretty much anything, 'tis true, but something about ketchup really brings them home for us. So we went to a *new* Whole Foods that had just opened less than 8 minutes from our home for a ketchup hunt. Surely, if PCC carried the unsweetened tomato dip gold then Whole Foods would, right? Wrong. They carry about 10 different brands of ketchup, all sweetened, mostly Organic. Which brought something else to my attention (after my initial baby-whine about them not offering unsweetened ketchup) - tomatoes are part of the "dirty dozen" list, so we probably should stick to Organic, right? And agave sweetener is natural, right? Better than table sugar? Sure? Okay. We bought some. Even though I told my hubby it'd only be his, since "I don't eat sugar". Lies. I consumed more of the plastic bottle than him, and it was gone before we knew it.

Eventually we made that out-of-the-way trip to PCC again for my unsweetened ketchup gem, because I figured I'd rather get my sugar fix from a date-sweetened, cashew-strawberry pie than from my sweet potato fries' dip. And guess what? As I looked at the beautiful wording on the label, "unsweetened", I noticed something missing. Something called "organic" - and it hit me. Unsweetened Organic ketchup does not exist in stores. It's too hard for companies, it would cost a million dollars a bottle, and they don't love me.

My solution? I'll grow organic tomatoes in my parents yard and make unsweetened ketchup AND pasta sauce (also non-existent especially if you want a sauce that has less than 390 mg sodium per serving) in bulk size and share it with my family! Sounds great, right? Problem solved? Yeah, but I would have to actually read about growing tomatoes, build a wooden veggie box, become a professional gardener, and humbly let my mom/dad tend to my tomato garden so nothing dies. Le sigh. It never happened.

I bring today's post to share the joy I feel about a most recent discovery on this topic. We stopped by Whole Foods for some Ezekiel sprouted burger buns, and decided to check out the ketchup aisle. Edu picked an agave-sweetened tomato dip for himself, and I sighed deeply and grabbed the unsweetened (non-organic) hint-of-corn glass jar for myself. We then walked down a random aisle as we made our way to the Ezekiel buns and... to my surprise... was a canned tomato section. I'm not a canned-tomato girl, I prefer glass any day, that's when something caught my eye.
Glass jar of organic mashed tomatoes - nothing added. Straight up organic tomatoes staring at me, yelling on top of their lungs for me to make ketchup with them. A nice sized jar for only $4, now in my posession, and I'm giddy like a school girl. Problem solved. Ketchup dilemma has come to a close. The doctor cured the patient. Pure gold.

 Now, let's see how it tastes with some apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion and salt blended in, shall we? Sweet potato fries, lentil burgers atop sprouted Ezekiel buns, come to mama! We've got a surprise for you!

 Oh, yeah: It was delicious. And the next week, I made homemade pasta sauce - incredible, pure, rich, pasta-like, better than any store can offer you - tomato business. oh happy day!

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