Natural or Enhanced?
The list of ingredients on the side of any food package, not only tell you the main ingredients, but also a list of chemical names that may not seem as significant. In fact they are a list of food additives which are used in order to enhance the taste, texture and color of the food you are eating. Some of these names also include antioxidants, sweeteners, emulsifiers and preservatives. Colors and bleaching agents are added to food in order to give an appetizing and expected color to the food. There are seven certified food coloring in the United States, and others that have been found to be carcinogenic have been banned. Thickening agents and texture modifiers include carrageenan, a carbohydrate that is taken from Irish moss and modified natural substances. Flavor enhancers exaggerate the taste of a food, such as meat so that they do not have to use as much of the real food, of products that may be deemed inferior in a specific dish or food product. Some flavor enhancers such as MSG or monosodium glutamate are used in foods like Chinese food and can give some people headaches.
Antioxidant- A substance that prevents the occurrence of oxidative damage from free radicals.
Emulsifying agent- A substance that is soluble in two substances which are insoluble in each other and that enables them to form an emulsion.
Additives seem to be a way of making food seem better that it occurs naturally. This may be a good or bad thing depending on whose perspective you are looking at. They are good in making food more appetizing, which is beneficial especially when feeing young children. However I do not think that they can be all that healthy for you, but I could be wrong. It also seems that flavor enhancers are a way of cutting the cost in producing food, since you are using less of the “real thing” and more of the “fake” stuff. This is a good way of cutting back economically, but seems like a very cheap way to make food. It does seem better to use food enhancers instead of “inferior-quality” ingredients, but it is still making the food not as good of quality as it would be if you used the “real thing”. So is the food we are eating the real, natural thing or is it enhanced? I suppose by reading the ingredient label we could figure it out!
Baird, C., The Ages of History, Chemistry in Your Life 2nd Ed.,W.H. Freeman and Company, 2006. P. 385-386.