Canned goods as agents of plausible deniability

I eat canned food once in a while, and I’ve come to realise that aside from its convenience and price point, especially during a time when it can be hard to source the fresh stuff, my reliance on it also comes from my refusal to acknowledge just how much sugar, salt, and everything else actually goes into a dish to make it taste good.

I’m an overthinker. I worry about everything and have trouble turning it off. When I say “everything,” I mean right down to what goes into the food I make. So when I don’t want to think about it, I eat out or, given current circumstances, turn to canned goods. That way, I can invoke plausible deniability when it comes to nutritional value, as well as what goes into the dish.

I know it’s wrong, but there is an appeal to not knowing, to be able to metaphorically sweep knowledge under the rug. “If I don’t know how that canned good is made, it won’t affect me.” Even though it does. Canning can be a healthy way to preserve food, but this isn’t the kind I’m talking about. There are numerous studies of how the wrong kinds of preservatives adversely affects the health of those who consume too much. Ignorance, wilful or not, does not mean one is spared from its results.

This means that if I want to stay healthy, I’ll have to cut down on the canned goods and find healthier alternatives. Same goes for sweets and the instant stuff. If I want to stay healthy, I’ll have to watch not only what and how I cook, but also where my ingredients come from, and if possible, who grew, processed, or made them. It’s a lot of mental and physical labor, labor I don’t always have the time, energy, and sometimes resources to spare, but it’s necessary if I want to take responsibility for this aspect of my life. Easy? No. But I have to try.


Yvette Tan is a multi-awarded author of horror fiction and a lifestyle writer for major local and international titles.