In Favor of MSG

Bags of MSG on the shelves of the local supermarket.

Since moving to Japan I have been bothered by the possibility of effects of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in my diet. I was reminded of this when I saw packs of MSG on the shelves of the Fidalga supermarket here in the barrio Las Hamacas. I know that MSG associated with Chinese, Japanese and other Asian cuisines. There has been lots of negative press towards MSG and Chinese restaurants in the US advertise as being “MSG-free”.

I was relieved to listen to The Gist podcast, The Telltale Story of MSG. I trust Slate and Maria Konnikova because she has read the research studies done on MSG. Basically, she tells us that MSG is not bad for us. It is found naturally in tomatoes, parmesan cheese, mushrooms among other foods. It is the umami taste. MSG was first isolated and identified in seaweed, as scientists were wondering why it tasted so good.

I now feel better about MSG and am a bit annoyed at people overreacting and creating a scare about it. I guess that is human nature and is true in many human endeavors, not only in eating healthy.

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