04 March 2013

Product Profile: Gourmet Garden's fresh herb line is a vegan let-down

Vegans, beware! You know those handy tubes of herbs you've been seeing in the grocery store lately—the ones in the produce section, right near the lettuces and sprouts and refrigerated salad dressings; the ones you excitedly thought would save you time from washing and spin-drying and chopping all those herbs or grating all that garlic or tangling with those tough lemongrass stalks?

Well, maybe you should sit down before you hear this: they're not vegan.

I know, I know. I was fooled too. I mean, they look so uncomplicated—herbs in a tube. And the verbiage on the packages is straightforward enough: Basil Paste, Cilantro Paste, Dill, Parsley, and so on. If those don't sound like vegan products, I don't know what does.

But if you turn to the ingredients list, there in fine print, you'll see that almost every variety of the Gourmet Garden "Fresh Made Easy" herb and spice line contains whey, a dairy product. And some, such as the Moroccan, Mexican, and Thai blends, contain whey and lactose, for a double dose of dairy.

Of all the varieties offered, only one (Ginger Paste) was not adulterated with dairy. And you know what? That tube of ginger is delicious. I use it all the time to make a quick soy-ginger dressing, for Indian dishes, and to enliven my potsticker dipping sauce. I can only assume the rest of the line would be equally tasty and convenient, if they weren't dairy-doctored.

We all know that animal products can appear in the most unlikely of places, but in herbs? That's about as disappointing as it gets.

But we don't need to accept defeat. Click here to access the company's website, where there's a form to make comments, and tell Gourmet Garden you're saying "no whey" to their products until they go vegan-friendly.

Elizabeth Gordon | Facebook | TwitterBlog | Website
Massachusetts Elizabeth is a writer, educator, and vegan advocate. She lives on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border with her husband and their quirky animal companions: a dog, two cats, and four fish (all rescues). An avid plant-based cook, she's proud to have finally perfected vegan versions of foods from her dual heritage—meatloaf, mac and cheese, and bacon from her Southern side, as well as potstickers, summer rolls, and wonton soup from her Asian side. (Plus she makes a drool-worthy buffalo wing pizza.) Elizabeth is the creator of the website MassVegan.org and founder of Vegans of North Central Mass.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Gordon