Why Are Food Additives In My Food?

Why Are Food Additives In My Food?

Why Are Food Additives In My FoodHow much do we know about what we are eating? Ingredient lists the length of a children’s short bed time story are really not uncommon in commercially prepared, boxed and fast foods. Being able to pronounce half of those ingredients at best is the norm and even if you can pronounce those ingredients- do you know what they are and where they came from? First of all, what are food additives & preservatives doing in our food anyways?

As a teacher of mine once said, ‘Convenience is the killer.’ Food additives and preservatives are mainly in our food for the following reasons:

  •  So food doesn’t spoil quickly, like it normally would in its fresh, natural and most nourishing form.
  • So meals can take less time and preparation to be readily available at your fingertips after a long day.
  • So food stays appealing to the eye. In their natural form, it’s not unlikely for foods to wilt or turn a pretty compost brown color once they start to lose their freshness.
  • Along with this, some may think that in it’s natural form a food may not be as bright looking as it could be. This is a reason why chemical food coloring agents were invented, to make oranges more orange and so on.
  • Processed foods & chemical additives are cheap for companies to produce, which increase their net profits.
  • You, as a consumer, may have noticed purchasing these products can decrease the price of your grocery bill, as it can often be cheaper and more convenient to pick up an instant frozen dinner and box of granola bars than fresh ingredients. The downside to this is that it will also decrease your health.
  • Some additives are placed in food products with the intention of replenishing nutrients that may be considered low or deficient in the average modern diet. Potassium, calcium or a source of fibre are commonly added to processed food products. (Then labelled “fortified”). The problem with this is that the said nutrient(s) are usually in synthetic form and are unable to be properly utilized by the body. This can actually create more nutritional stress in the body.

Food additives and preservatives have been linked to several issues such as behavioral problems in children, hyperactivity, anxiety disorders, asthma, allergies, digestive disorders and even cancer. They are downright sketchy because so many of them come from sources that certainly have no business being in our food or our bodies. While you may see an ingredient name on a food label, where it actually came from is never labelled. I guarantee you would be quite shocked upon finding out what some of the additives in our food really are, how they were made, where they came from and how little they are regulated in North America. Most food additives are synthetically produced in labs, but some of them are derived from natural sources too. This is when you will see “natural color” or “natural flavor” appear on labels. Natural is a very broad term and can really be anything that is considered to be found in nature. This can be the bark off trees – sometimes labelled as cellulose, various moss plants and insect or random animal products (a hidden concern for vegans and vegetarians.)Take Carmine (Red#40) for example, a food coloring agent that comes from the cochineal insect and is used to give foods a brighter more appealing pink colour. You’ll find this in strawberry yogurt, candy, breakfast cereal bars and juice. Although I would agree that a ‘natural’ food additive would probably be a better option than a chemically produced one, it doesn’t mean it’s naturally meant for our consumption or good for our environment. Synthetically produced additives and preservatives can contain anything from chalk (calcium carbonate) to genetically modified corn syrup, soy, lead, coal tar, ammonia, MSG, the list goes on for ever, really. But don’t expect to find any specifics on labels. When you see the word “Sunset yellow”, “Tartrazine” or simply just “Color”, it may not cross your mind that you are actually ingesting a chemical product made from petroleum. This is a big topic, but it brings me closer to my point on why it is so important to read labels. There are thousands of additives present in our food industry, and most of the time, multiple additives in present in a single product. If you see an ingredient you don’t recognize, I encourage you to get curious, do a little bit of research on google and ask questions. It will go a long way – it’s your health. Just eat real food.

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Vancouver Health Coach