1. Condiments, Seasonings and Spices
The ancient Egyptian mummies are masterpieces of the embalmer’s art. For thousands of years, the bodies of kings and queens have been preserved by an intricate process that was once a closely guarded secret of the priests. Exotic substances, “magical” potions and hard-to-find agents were used to tighten the flesh around the corpses of royalty and preserve them from decay over the centuries.
Today we know what those exotic ingredients are that caused the flesh to petrify. In fact, you probably eat those same preservative substances each time you eat in a restaurant, prepare cooked foods or buy processed foods. Salt, vinegar, oils, spices and various herbs—all found in most American kitchens—were originally used by the Egyptians to embalm their corpses. Only now, we are using the same items to preserve, petrify and embalm the bodies of the living.
Making mummified corpses was the original use of seasonings that modern man now sprinkles so liberally over his food. What effects do these spices have on the living organism and how did their use begin?
1.1 The Original Use of Spices
Spices, salt and seasonings were first used to preserve food and to disguise the taste of food that had gone bad. Rotting meat and old vegetables that had been heavily spiced could be eaten without disgust. Salted food could be carried for weeks without decay.
The use of spices became prevalent in Indian and Chinese food at about the same time these countries elevated cooking to a “fine art.” The European countries later adopted the spice habit of the Eastern countries as they began to process and cook more and more of their foods.
These items used in cooking are known as condiments and they seem to have had their start at about the same time man abandoned his diet of primary fresh and seasonal foods and started to use more and more meats, cooked and processed foods.
1.2 What Is A Condiment?
A condiment is generally something “extra” that is added to a food for “flavor” or taste stimulation or even for its preservative properties (like salt and vinegar). In other words, condiments are used for the taste “satisfaction” that it might provide and not for any nutritional value.
Is a condiment also a food? Generally not. A substance that is eaten is either a natural part of the human dietary or it is a nonfood item that is used for some reasons other than nutritive ones. Condiments have little or no nutritional value.
A true food may be eaten in such quantities that it can be a complete meal by itself. You can eat all you desire of a natural food, to repletion and satisfaction, and suffer no harmful effects. Of course, you can overeat any food, natural or otherwise, but generally speaking, you can certainly eat several mouthfuls of a natural food quite safely.
There is no way that you can eat several mouthfuls of salt, cinnamon, vinegar, black pepper, cayenne or mustard. In fact, a few bites of most condiments can prove fatal.
If condiments must be used in such small and careful amounts, how can they be considered foods for the body? The fact that we can eat a small amount of salt or pepper, and not drop dead, does not mean that these foods are any less poisonous. Instead, we’re taking nonlethal doses of these condiments. Just the same, they still exert a disruptive effect on the well-being of the body no matter what the quantity eaten. A poison is a poison, and a little will kill us just as surely, (although more slowly) than a lot.
If you are ever in doubt if a substance is a suitable food or a condiment to be avoided, simply ask yourself this question: Could I eat a mouthful of this enjoyably? If not, it should be avoided.
1.3 The True Nature of Condiments
The greatest living proponent of Natural Hygiene, Dr. Herbert M. Shelton, described the true nature of condiments and food seasonings in his book Human Life: Its Philosophy and Laws in the following manner:
“Among the unwholesome substances demanded by perverted taste are the condiments and ‘relishes.’ These things possess little or no food value and there does not exist a single excuse for their use.
“They blunt and deprave the sense of taste, so that the natural flavors of foods are neither detected nor appreciated. They overstimulate and weaken the glands of the mouth, stomach and intestine. They irritate the lining membranes of the alimentary canal, causing these to thicken, toughen and harden, and they impair their functional powers. They create a fictitious desire for food and induce overeating. They create a false thirst, one that cannot be satisfied with water. They retard and derange digestion.
“They disguise the food eaten. When the food is camouflaged by salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, nutmeg, spices and other condiments, the digestive juices are not appropriately adapted to the food eaten. Digestion suffers as a consequence.
“No one need ever develop a craving for these substances and where it is already developed, it can be easily overcome if one will give up their use and persist in abstaining from them for a time. When the sense of taste is restored to normal, you will find fine, delicate flavors in foods that you never knew existed.”
1.4 Condiments Are Everywhere
If you eat in a restaurant, use any processed foods or shop in a supermarket, you’re going to be exposed to condiments. There are hundreds of flavor enhancers, spices and seasonings added to almost all of our foods. To avoid them, you’ll have to prepare your own food from fresh ingredients.
Why do we use so many condiments?
When foods are processed or cooked, most of their natural flavors are lost. This is the reason that foods which are cooking smell so strongly—all the flavors are being cooked out of them into the air. The food that remains behind is flavorless and flat. Salt, spices and seasonings are used to re-add “flavor” to the food that was cooked away. The condiments substitute for the natural flavors present in wholesome foods.
Some foods such as meat and grains often have so few appealing natural flavors to begin with that condiments are used to make them “more palatable.” This should be an indication that these foods are not suitable for the human dietary.
Fresh, raw fruits and vegetables are full of subtle flavors and aromas. When eaten in their unprocessed state, these foods provide a full range of taste and olfactory stimulation without the need for artificial and added flavorings.
Since there are so many condiments in use today, only the major ones will be discussed. A listing of other widely used condiments will also be given according to their classification so that the student may learn to recognize the wide range of condiments that exist.
- 1. Condiments, Seasonings and Spices
- 2. Specific Condiments
- 3. Condiments In General
- 4. Question & Answers
- Article #1: Are Any Condiments Acceptable In the Hygienic Diet? by T. C. Fry
- Article #2: Salt
- Article #3: Here Are Some of the Reasons Why You Should Not Use Condiments
- Article #4: Using Condiments Is Like Wearing Makeup by Marti Fry