Sunday, January 8, 2012

El Matador Tortilla Chips

This may prove to be one of my most controversial posts because it directly relates to a beloved tortilla chip from  Michigan.  This company was founded in 1976 and people throughout Michigan seek it out as part of a tradition.

Here's my concern.  I went to the grocery store last week for some tortilla chips.  I typically buy the large bag of organic tortilla chips at Costco, so this was a special "Oh, no!  We're out of chips!" run.

I quickly surveyed the shelves and grabbed a bag of El Matador chips strictly because I wanted to support a local company.  Before I checked out, something prompted me to read the ingredients.  Most tortilla chips read something like this:

  • Stone Ground Corn
  • Oil
  • Salt

So I was surprised when I read this ingredient list for El Matador chips:

  • Stone Ground White Corn
  • Oil (Combination of Soy, Canola and Sunflower)
  • Salt
  • Seasoning (salt, artificial butter, yellow 5, yellow 6, tapioca dextrin, modified food starch, soy oil, soy flour, artificial flavor)
  • Lime

Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and artificial flavors?!!!  (Read my post on artificial colors here.)

I returned the chips to the food isle and read every other brands ingredient list including the store brand to find that all of the others had three (some four) ingredients with no food dyes or artificial flavorings.  I eventually opted for On The Border brand-based mostly on price.

I did some research on the El Matador company and discovered it was sold in late 2007 to Garden Fresh Salsa of Ferndale, Michigan.  They produce the well-known Garden Fresh Gourmet Deli Chip -- that doesn't have the added ingredients.

The El Matador tortilla factory still operates in Grand Rapids at 45 Franklin Street SW, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49507.  They do not have a web site, but do have a facebook page.

In the end, I am happy I checked the ingredient list; I am sad that I couldn't support a local producer; and I hope they find a way to make this regional favorite truly natural in the future.

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