Del Monte Foods, Why?

Really?  High fructose corn syrup in my diced tomatoes?

We eat black beans and rice about once a week here at Casa Ward (quick-n-ez recipe below).  One of the prime ingredients is diced tomatoes.  Ideally, just a plain ol’ can of diced tomatoes.  Sometimes I grab the wrong can at the Publix and we end up, as we did tonight, with diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, which is generally fine, because we’d have added both those things in the cooking process anyway.

In the cupboard tonight we had two cans of diced tomatoes:  The aforementioned Del Montes and a can of Ro-Tels.  The Ro-Tels were out because they’re a little spicy, and ol’ Dad is the only one here interested in bringing the picante.  So I grabbed the Del Montes.

So far so good.  Then I made the mistake of reading the label.

The first thing I noticed (and by the way, I was already sweating the bell peppers at this point, and the rice was done, so we were committed) was the calorie count.  Now, regular readers know I don’t generally care about calorie counts.  But I had noticed on the Ro-Tel label (because I was checking for ingredients to see how hot it might be) that the Ro-Tel was a measly 20 calories per serving.  The Del Monte tomatoes?  40.  Fully twice as many calories per serving.

And then I read the ingredients:  Item number two on the list?  High fructose corn syrup.  In my tomatoes.  And the garlic and onions?  Not so much.  Garlic powder.  Onion powder.  But not an actual aromatic vegetable to be found.  And a whole bunch of other questionable ingredients, including some chemicals with which I was not familiar.

By comparison, the Ro-Tel ingredients were tomatoes, peppers, salt and some odd chemical for thickening.

So.  We’ve learned two things.  First, read the label.  Always.  I knew that, but I should be able to trust that a can of tomatoes is just a can of tomatoes, right?  Wrong.  Second, I’m not buying Del Monte tomatoes again.  In this battle of Big Ag heavyweights (Ro-Tel is a Con Agra product), Con Agra wins.

Now, you may ask, “Why canned tomatoes, Harv?”  I’m glad you asked.  Generally speaking (before they add the freakin’ high fructose corn syrup), canned tomatoes are every bit as nutritious, and probably tastier, than any “fresh” tomato you pick up at your local supermegamart (Yes, if you grow your own, that would be better.  I do not.)

As promised, the recipe:

  • One can of black beans, drained
  • One can of diced tomatoes, mostly drained
  • Two bell peppers (different colors, if you can swing it), diced
  • Half a red onion, diced
  • Chopped garlic, to taste
  • A little olive oil
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • (No salt – there’s plenty in the beans and tomatoes)
  • Some rice (I don’t care how much, you’re going to serve this over the rice.  Brown is better than white.)

Heat the olive oil and black pepper in a big pan.  Brown the garlic in the oil.  Dump in the peppers and onions, sweat until they’re translucent/a little soft, stirring consistently.  Introduce the tomatoes, cook off most of the water from the tomatoes.  Introduce the beans.  Cook over medium/low heat for about five minutes, just to make all the ingredients happy with each other.  Serve over the rice.  If you’re feeling froggy, top with shredded queso and/or sour cream.

We’ve been known to include sausage of one sort or another, often chorizo.  If you do that, you might cut the olive oil out and start with the sausage.  You’ll have plenty of oil from that to cook everything else nicely.

Buen Provecho!

And for those of you checking for the weigh-in, 262 this morning.  Damnit.  Domino’s pizza for dinner Thursday night.  Don’t judge me.  Stop.  I know you’re judging me.  Quit looking at me.

Now go tell your friends to read my blog.

But seriously, thanks for reading.


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ed McCormick on December 30, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    If you can Harv, buy frozen veggies before canned! Usually frozen just after picking(harvesting) then frozen quickly to preserve freshness etc..Keep up the good work and documentation! You are inspiring me to think more about being conscience about my choices! I hope to start loosing soon! I am back in Gainesville after the successful Bachelors degree stint. I am in the process of looking for a job..well will be as soon as the new year begins. Hopefully in the parallel we can work on this weight thing together!! ——————–


  2. Posted by Maria Fionda on December 31, 2011 at 12:13 am

    I love reading your blog.
    Also, I started reading the labels of everything I purchased in detail in my 20s. The amount of junk included in food is astonishing, to say the least. So I know exactly what you are feeling…


  3. I like Muir Glen canned tomatoes–the can is specially lined so they have no metallic taste. The other option is Pomi the boxed chopped tomatoes. Just a thought. Thanks for writing!


  4. Great blog as usual…scary but great!! Here’s to a great 2012 with no HFCS!!


  5. Posted by hlward on December 31, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Note to self: Write more about canned tomatoes. People like posts about canned tomatoes.


  6. Posted by Amy on January 9, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Just wanted you to know that I’ve got a batch of this on the stove right now, waiting for rice to be done so I can package it into lunches for the week. (Bring lunch: my new year’s resolution. Closely aligned with an aggressive savings plan.) That is to say, this better be good. My lunch hour for the week depends on it!


    • Posted by Ed McCormick on January 9, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Part of your first part of your blog, the name, rank serial number, comes directly from the US Geneva Convention, and applies to all active duty military card holders, it deals with prisoner of war issues, as US servicemen, under the Geneva convention, we are only required to give our name, rank and serial number. And we are to resist any other information as best to our ability. It is just a subject I do know something about. Losing weight, well that may be another story. I am big, bold and beautiful 🙂
      I however am not super happy about the bold part, because I am bold just means that I am just freakin’ big! I wrote my weight on the mirror this morning, hoping that it will motivate me everytime I am in the bathroom. Let’s just say I’m big and I’m going to work on it as best as I can. Thanks for posting, and all the comments help too. Have a great day everyone. Ed McCormick


  7. […] closely resembles food.  As an example, lets say that after reading labels you find the brand of canned tomatoes you’ve been buying includes high-fructose corn syrup.  I’ll bet there’s another […]


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