No, that’s not a new country song; I am talking about the food additive famously found in Chinese food. Which I am sensitive to, and which I have recently learned is also found pretty much everywhere. Here is the story.

We had company stay with us last summer, and did a bit of partying (not extreme at our age), including a precooked roast of beef with delicious gravy. After our company left I felt below par for a few days, bloated up and other symptoms.  We had more company again in September, same delicious roast and gravy, same illness, same scenario exactly.   My wife and I discussed this, and thought maybe that precooked roast was loaded with MSG, and decided not to buy any more of those.

Shortly after the column where Willy was complaining about his franken-butter, I got a phone call from an old friend. Because of Willies problem, she thought I would be interested in an article she had just read in her ‘First for Women’ magazine, Sept 28/15 edition, and offered to drop it off.

Holy cow! The article claims that all women and a lot of men react to MSG, and its worst effects are not indigestion, but mental, it makes you grouchy and stupid, and can do permanent brain damage!  My wife and I immediately connected; I had been grouchy during those periods we suspected MSG was affecting me, and stupid, I could not do difficult Sudoku and had to drop down to medium for a while!  Furthermore, the article says MSG is in many foods, and when we checked labels we discovered that the snack food I had been gobbling up while we had company was loaded with the stuff!  Good thing she called, MSG was killing me!

The article claims that MSG in small quantities can be listed on the ingredients list by pseudonyms, such as “natural flavours”, “yeast extract”, and “hydrolysed protein”. A quick tour of the pantry proved that we are getting a lot of the stuff, pretty much in everything we buy at the store.  Eureka.  We have been staying clear of it for a few weeks now, and I am back up to ‘difficult’ Sudoku, and turned into a regular pussycat instead of a grouch (well, almost).

This opens a whole line of thought. How can this clearly harmful stuff be loaded into all our food, while we make a big fuss about such relatively harmless things as ‘gluten’ (it only affects the small percentage of the population who are allergic to it, and has no effect at all on the rest of us). Can that be because gluten is in wheat, and American corporate agriculture has gone out of wheat and into corn?  Or think about propylene glycol, such a cheap and convenient thickener for corporate food, it is in most of your food and cosmetics even though it has no food value; great for corporations, useless for you.  So why has no effort been made to determine if it has long-term effects (maybe it causes autism, or gluten allergies, or who knows what)?   Or think about Willy’s claim that cholesterol is a scam, it mostly benefits the huge drug companies profiting from it.  I am beginning to agree with my friend Willy when he says that corporations and regulators have their hands way too deep in each other’s pockets.

Of course we all know that if we google up a list of symptoms of whatever exotic illness, we think we have those symptoms and fool ourselves that we have the disease, that’s why we need doctors. Even so, if you are stupid and grouchy and bloated and (ahem) gassy, take a look at your MSG intake, can’t do any harm.

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