In my career as a lawyer, we used to call words such as "reasonable" or "significant" weasel words because what they meant to one person would be totally different to another person. In my new world of spices, I now consider words like "high quality", "premium" or "superior" as weasel words.
When spice companies describe their spices as being of 'high quality', 'premium' or 'superior' what do they mean? What do they mean to the consumer?
Spice quality could be measured by so many things - best grades, freshness by recent harvest, clean, organic, free of fillers, free of MSG and so on.
As a consumer, should and do you just take the brand's word for it or should the brand be telling you why or in what ways they define their products to be good quality?
At the Spice Sanctuary, we pride ourselves on giving as much information as we can to consumers. If they don't understand what a grade means or the impact of a certain harvesting methods, we hope to inspire them to research and find out more about these attributes. We strongly believe organic is not enough when it comes to our spices just like not every bottle of chardonnay wine is the same.
Here are just a few suggestions on how you, the consumer, can test what quality of spices mean to you:
- "Organic" does not mean the spices are fresher or have more volatile oil content. Organic farming of spices merely means that no pesticides or chemicals are used, making them purer.
- "Freshness" doesn't start from the point you buy spices from your store but rather, depends on the time when they were harvested and how short the supply chain was. It can also be determined by how much you use in dishes to get the right flavour. Less is best.
- "Quality" is not always determined by aroma - of course the more aromatic, the better the quality but quality also comes through taste, differing levels of bitterness, pungency, sharpness etc.
- Just like at school, grades matter! There is a strong correlation between the best grades translating into better quality so long as all other factors pertinent to quality are also observed.
We're always keen to know how our spices measure up for our customers, so let us know!