After finishing college, like any other graduate, I went looking for a job.
I wanted a good job in a good food company. This is because in the preceding months I was given power to lead and to do what appertains to my Food Science degree. This was after spending four good years in Juja. Juja is a small town outside Nairobi, notoriously known for an agricultural college that turned into a university before every other big building in Kenya started becoming this or that campus. I mean, even in the villages in Kenya, every tall building is a campus or university of some sort now.
Anyway, I went looking for a job. Jobs were hard to come by. Job applications were not acknowledged by the employer leave alone getting what we used to call a ‘regret’. I used to think they were even never read. My assumption which is yet to be corrected is that, they were thrown into the bin immediately as soon as they were received.
Since application letters were never replied to, it asked for more sophisticated techniques to look for job. Some were time consuming and just a waste of time. Others were utterly silly. I remember a fish processing company that promised me job after successfully passing a two man panel interview. I remember the questions from the interview like it was yesterday. They asked something to do with HACCP. HACCP stand for hazard analysis critical control points. From the interview, I could tell they did not even understand what the abbreviations meant. My problem was job, not their lack of grasp of basics in food science.
I was sure my future is finally sorted after passing the interview. Now I could earn money for myself. Buy myself a nice suit. Wear a new tie instead of the second hand ones I used to buy while in college. Give some money to my parents as a way of saying thank you for educating me. Boy, it never happened. I paid the company visit twice a week for over two months. I ended giving up.
In the course of visiting my prospective future employer, I used to pass outside a gate of a tomato sauce processing company. It looked a real company. Good gate, well manicured lawns and nice looking buildings. Since it was bigger than my prospective employer, I could tell myself that, one day, I will work there.
The many times I passed outside the gate of the tomato sauce company, I only saw people walking in and out. Sales pick-ups and lorries either leaving or coming back from delivery or field sales. I swear, I never saw a lorry bringing in any tomatoes. Not even a single day, for two months. I never bothered to ask where they got tomatoes for their ketchup and sauces. I assumed they were brought at night from upcountry.
Actually their tomato sauces were the best and most sold in Kenya at the time. Although I could not afford them, I could tell from the containers strewn in the estate dumping sites.
In college, we were taught how to make tomato sauce. We used real tomatoes; I mean red ripe appetizing tomatoes. They constituted the highest percentage of ingredients although we added a few other ingredients to make it thick, sweet and sour.. Oh, we also added some preservatives for it to store for long.
Normally, if something does not pass my logic test I brand it as wrong. So for me the tomato sauce company was making something else not tomato sauce because it failed my logic test.
I use logic in everything even discussing issues of faith. For example, people tell me about big bang theory as the beginning of everything on earth. I ask, for any two matter to hit each other at very high speed and big force, they should have come from somewhere, which to me justifies some supernatural power of some sort as the source.
Ok, they tell me about evolution. Yes everything is evolving, look at computers the way they have changed over the last few years. They have come from big boxes that were difficult to carry, to light portable netbooks. Big monitors to flat screen. From DOS operating system to windows and doors. For these things to evolve there must be a starting point. Some supernatural power of some sort.
If no tomatoes are delivered to the company, it does not use tomatoes to make tomato sauce. Full stop. That was my conclusion.
So what do these companies use to make tomato sauce or ketchup?
Man is intelligent, clever, sly and shrewd. He will make more money from a fake thing than the real one. That is why Chinese sell to use fake electrical appliances. Women wear fake hair. Even people make fake money.
Mixing of thickeners, tomato flavour, some red colour, sugar and salt and putting them in a plastic squeezable clear bottle fetches more than buying tomatoes from Meru.
To top the tomato sauce in a bottle, preservatives are added. This makes the sauce to store for over a year whereas a ripe tomato can only last for less than a week.
Which other fake food product would you like to know about?