Like a lot of people I love Ginger Ale especially when I have a sick tummy … Ginger is known to be good for nausea but when the Ginger Ale I’d been drinking didn’t seem to be helping and seemed awful dang sugary, well … I read the ingredient label. I was shocked to discover it didn’t even contain Ginger. And I was a little pissed off too cause I expected something called “Ginger Ale” to contain Ginger … wouldn’t you???
Now when your talking Ginger Ale, Root Beer, Birch Beer and the like … you expect them to be made from the actual ‘root’ from which they were given their name, right? Well …not any more! Originally they were but somewhere along the line, for bigger profits or cost effectiveness, who knows, it has changed and now like a lot of “processed foods” they have become processed to the point there is no real or natural ingredients in them any longer. To me … Ginger should be the FIRST ingredient … period!
What does “natural flavors” actually mean? Here’s what I discovered:
“…the FDA definition of "natural flavors" and "natural flavoring" allows for the substance to be extracted from plant or animal "matter."
Okay so the key word here is “extracted” so the amount of ‘ginger’ in these Ginger Ales could be (if there even is any) extremely minute to fall under that category and possible not even real Ginger but a “natural flavor” made to mimic Ginger.
And further from happycow.net:
Let’s start with the official definition as stated in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (Title 21, Section 101, part 22):
“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material…”
Interesting huh? Does that sound like a product listing “natural flavor” on its ingredient list actually contains something real and not man made? To me, it sounds like it could mean pretty much anything. So basically … in my opinion … it means nothing … it doesn’t prove that Ginger is actually in the Ginger Ale and if it is there ain’t much of it yet they can still legally claim it to be “made from real ginger”. Seriously? Do companies think us that stupid? I mean if there really was a substantial amount of Ginger in the product, why wouldn’t it be listed … Ginger? So my conclusion is there is none.
Can ya’ll imagine a recipe calling for ‘natural flavor’? What would you add … what does that mean? Means nothing, my opinion! Or what about this scenario … I make a Chocolate Cake and you ask “so what kind of chocolate do you put in this and how much?” and I said “Oh its just natural flavors” OR I make a Coconut Pie and you ask “so how much coconut is in it … why can’t I taste it?” … you’d think I was crazy if I said “oh it contains natural flavors”. See my point? For a Chocolate Cake to be ‘chocolate’ the main ingredient should be … wait for it … duh … maybe CHOCOLATE or a Coconut Pie’s main ingredient should be …. Hmmmm let me think … maybe ‘Coconut’. You get my point. Read your labels, my friends!!!
So I’ve set out to find REAL Ginger Ale and it does exist … its just not made by the name brand companies we all grew up trusting and knowing … sad thing is I do remember a time when there was real Ginger in Ginger Ale (at least I think there was). Sure used to taste different … better! Haven’t you ever heard someone say “this just doesn’t taste as good as it did when I was a kid”? Well, that’s because somewhere (I believe) over the years the companies we grew up believing in changed it on us … slipped one past us. There is nothing in these Ginger Ales that even resembles what Ginger Ale should be … made from Ginger Root and Ginger being its first or second ingredient and NOT listed as a “natural flavor” in its last ingredient!!! The ONLY place you find the word “Ginger” on the labels is EVERYWHERE but the ingredient list. It’s obviously in the name and then written all over its carton or container … “made with real ginger” … only there isn’t any real ginger in it. None Nada Nil
So my search continues for REAL Ginger Ale actually containing Ginger as one of its MAIN ingredients. I’ve found some on the internet but have yet to get over to Whole Foods or Harry’s to find some, but I will!!! No more FAKE Ginger Ale for me … I want only real and natural ingredients in my food … not processed crap and man made sweeteners!!
What do you think???
UPDATE: October 2013
I said I'd update once I found REAL Ginger Ale so here it is ~ both are available at Whole Foods and I found that Kroger carries Reed's in their 'health' food section at about same cost as Whole Foods.
I found 2 brands that I like ... Reed's being my absolute favorite and 365 being a less expensive alternative, even though I'm still not comfortable about fact they don't list Ginger Root as an ingredient but rather say "Natural Ginger Flavor" but I suppose that's close enough ... as opposed to just natural flavor ... that's a BIG difference to me. Oh and both are non-alcoholic ... yes there is Ginger Beer that IS really 'Beer' and alcoholic but it is hard to find and of course found only in liquor stores.
So ya'll check them out ... I love the Reed's 'Extra' Ginger Brew but it also comes in the regular brew.