We know you want to feel good about every lovingly packed box (or bag) of lunch you pack this year. And though the humble sandwich has long been a staple of school lunch boxes everywhere, in recent years some ingredients have come into question – particularly the nitrates and nitrites used to preserve most conventional lunch meat. These ingredients and the science behind why they should or shouldn’t be in our food can get confusing; but not at Earth Fare where we offer Dietz & Watson Originals™ uncured meats fresh in our deli. But first, the basics of what may be in conventional deli meat.

Preservatives were developed before the introduction of refrigeration and play an important part in safe food systems. They prevent the spoilage of food by molds, bacteria, and yeast by creating an environment where these organisms cannot grow. In today’s world of convenient refrigeration, preservatives are primarily used to extend the shelf life of food. But there’s a BIG difference between natural and artificial preservatives.

Both nitrates and nitrites occur naturally in soil, water, plants, and even our own bodies. The difference between natural nitrates and nitrites and those found in conventional lunch meats is that food manufacturers speed up the process by skipping a step, adding sodium nitrite directly versus adding a natural nitrate which converts into a nitrite once the compound interacts with the bacteria on the meat.

When sodium nitrite is heated above 266˚F it creates nitrosamines, a compound that has been found to be carcinogenic to animals. In fact, nitrosamines are the real problem with artificial preservatives. In nature, the vitamin C found in fruit and veggies actually prevents the formation of nitrosamines – one reason why the natural nitrates found in produce are much better for our bodies. As a precaution, the USDA limits the amount of nitrates that can be added to cured meats and requires the inclusion of vitamin C to further prevent the formation of nitrosamines. But at Earth Fare, we take it much further by eliminating all artificial preservatives, including added nitrates and nitrites, from every product in our store.

Dietz & Watson™ knows deli meat. Founded in Philadelphia in 1939, this nearly 80 year old family-run business has been preparing the best deli meat – free of added nitrates and nitrites – over four generations. The story of Dietz & Watson began in the early 1900s, when Gottlieb Dietz found his passion as a butcher’s apprentice at a small meat shop. After mastering the art of making sausage in Germany, he migrated to the U.S. and founded Dietz & Watson. Passionate about his craft, he used European cooking techniques and only the finest ingredients to prepare and perfect his own recipes. These principles became the cornerstone of the recipes Dietz & Watson uses today.

These classic family recipes may be at the heart of creating great tasting deli meat, but Dietz & Watson is committed to providing products that are good AND good for you. That means crafting cured meats from timeless recipes using only the highest quality ingredients that are always free of antibiotics, growth hormones, artificial colors, flavors, fillers, extenders, and MSG. Nearly all of the company’s deli meats and cheese are gluten-free, and have been endorsed by the Feingold™ Association, a non-profit organization that works to increase public awareness around the relationship of synthetic food additives and our health. Most notably, the Feingold Association recommends Dietz & Watson deli meat for hyperactive children and people with sensitive diets.

This school season, you can feel good about packing a healthy and delicious sandwich with Dietz & Watson deli meat found in Earth Fare’s deli and sliced to order.

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