Category Archives: Commentary

Why You Shouldn’t Buy VH Chinese Soya Sauce

Sometimes it pays to read the ingredients on the food you buy. Especially prepared stuff. I was shopping this morning and came upon a large display of VH products, prominently featuring what I suppose is one of their flagship products, VH Chinese Soya Sauce.

VH Chinese Soy Sauce

VH Chinese Soy Sauce

For those unfamiliar with this brand, it belongs to ConAgra Foods Canada, which belongs to ConAgra. I’m sure they’re nice people who are just trying to make a living, but still. The ingredients list in their ‘soy sauce’ is quite disturbing.

Based on my research of soy sauces around the world, in great part on Wikipedia, I’ve learned that some soy sauces have sugar added to them, and are primarily used as dipping sauces.

This is all well and good, but this in no way explains this product’s scary ingredients list. I understand that soy sauce is salty, but why does it have more salt that soy? For that matter, why does it have more caramel than soy?

That doesn’t sound right to me.

In addition, you’ll notice that this ‘soy sauce’, and I use the term loosely, contains both corn syrup and glucose solid. Corn syrup wasn’t sweet enough?

VH Chinese Soy Sauce Ingredients

VH Chinese Soy Sauce Ingredients

I guess it wasn’t. Instead of soy, you get ‘hydrolyzed soy protein’ which I’ll surmise is not exactly the same thing. You also get every food conglomerate’s favorite additive, corn syrup, even though I’m sure there’s no real reason for it to be there.

I’m not judging. But seriously, why would anyone choose that stuff when you can buy normal soy sauce and just drop a spoonful of sugar in it, if that’s your fancy?

I’m actually quite happy to see Sodium Benzoate in there, as it is quite a normal and innocuous food preservative, and doesn’t seem to have a nefarious purpose.

The dark color of soy sauce is created in the brewing process. I am quite certain it’s not because you add caramel to the mix.

Oh wait. Except in the case of VH Chinese Soya Sauce.

Compare this with the ingredients of this Kikkoman Soy Sauce. This soy sauce, by the way, can be bought at Costco, where a half-gallon costs less than $5.

Kikkoman Soy Sauce Ingredients

Kikkoman Soy Sauce Ingredients

Notice that the Kikkoman soy sauce has no added sugar, glucose or corn syrup, and contains actual soybeans. It also manages, somehow, to be dark-colored, without any added caramel. Fancy that!

These two sauces also share the same preservative, so I figure it must be a good one. Kikkoman is good enough to tell us that its sauce contains less than 0.1% of it.

One thing that the VH Chinese Soya Sauce has going for it is that it is gluten-free, which I don’t believe the Kikkoman soy sauce is. That being said, if you want to avoid gluten at the cost of ingesting a bunch of corn syrup, glucose and caramel under the guise of ‘soya sauce’, maybe you’ve got other problems.


Some Thoughts about Living Well Cheaply

When I started writing this blog, I thought I would mostly be writing about the quality products I buy at Costco, publishing reviews and my own observations. It occurs to me, however, that living well cheaply – and that’s the name of my blog – is about much more than that.

It’s about enjoying yourself. Not only counting pennies and dollars and saving money, but also spending money to entertain yourself. You can’t always be looking at money; life becomes quickly drab, especially if you don’t have much.

I’ve decided to include some other types of reviews and observations in my blog. I’ve found that the two cheapest and most enjoyable ways to entertain myself (and mind you, that’s entirely personal, everyone is different) are reading, and video games.

I’m pushing 40 now, so I’m an old hand at playing video games. I started on a TSR-80, a Tandy from Radio Shack, believe it or not, and have used every iteration of the PC since the XT. I remember Burger Time, Alley Cat, Spy Hunter and the original King’s Quest, and countless others.

Now I play more modern games, but I don’t mind giving the old classic a go once in a while. Even the most expensive game on the market is very affordable when you consider the number of hours of entertainment you’ll get out of it.

As for reading, well what can I say. I used to read a lot. A LOT. I used to not discriminate, and as a result I’ve read a lot of garbage. That’s Ok.

So I’ll be writing book reviews and articles about the games I’m playing, always with an angle towards cheap entertainment. Because living well, cheaply and in a way we can afford is what this is all about.