Numbers, oh so many numbers!

Have you ever tried to read an ingredients label and been befuddled by all the numbers? These things are truly difficult to understand, especially when you are shopping with a couple of children who are “starving” and “so bored” so you haven’t the time to stop and Google what you are reading. I am yet to master reading labels, actually I have a very long way to go, so I reasoned that I could start by learning to identify foods with Sulphites (numbers 220-228), because these are the preservatives that have a reputation for triggering and intensifying a whole host of problems, some of which both myself and my children have suffered with.

Now I do understand that if we want food to have a long shelf life preservatives are necessary… but I question why some foods need such a long shelf life when they could be eaten fresh within days of being picked. It horrified me to read that, despite being illegal, some pre-packaged salads are sprayed with sulphites and that sulphites tend to be in foods that are not labelled (you can find a helpful table of foods that often contain sulphites here) eg, sausages. There are standards surrounding sulphite labeling, but this is what the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand website had to say:

“If the food is unpackaged (e.g. dried apricots sold in bulk bins), the presence of sulphites must be declared on or in connection with the display of the food, or the purchaser can request this information.” (Retrieved from

Note those last few words: “or the purchaser can request this information.” So it seems that, unless you are 100% on top of all the foods that may contain preservative 220-228, you run the risk of accidentally consuming sulphites. My answer to this – remove dried fruit from our diets, find a butcher who sells preservative free meat and get that home garden pumping out as much of our fruit and veg intake as possible, starting with a year round salad garden.


The humble beginnings of our first salad bed


Yum, pumpkin and green bean salad lunch – ingredients harvested fresh from the garden just minutes before consumption (yes there are green beans underneath all those chilies).

*Please note I do not believe everyone should adopt a preservative free diet and I do not judge those who choose to consume preservatives – if you can tolerate them then that’s fantastic, please have a glass of wine and processed meat for me. 

*Note also, I am not a medical professional, the information I have about my families health concerns and their relation to diet is based purely on observation of my family and as such may not be the case for everyone so please, if you have concerns about the effect of preservatives on yourself or your loved ones, consult a health professional.


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