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What Do Food Additives Look Like?

We all know packaged foods that roll off the assembly line are loaded with many mysterious additives.

But have you ever wondered what these factory formulations actually look like and exactly how they’re made?

In this upcoming new book, Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products (to be released September 29 and available for preorder now on Amazon), macro photographer Dwight Eschliman focuses on some of most common ingredients in processed foods while science writer Steve Ettlinger probes the exact makeup of each.

Azodicarbonamide is a food additive to strengthen dough and is also used as a foaming agent to make rubber products such as yoga mats.

Azodicarbonamide is a food additive to strengthen dough and is also used as a foaming agent to make rubber products such as yoga mats. Dwight Eschliman/Regan Arts

The book provides a fascinating glimpse into the often complicated compounds that go into those bags, boxes and cans that line grocery store shelves.

It’s estimated there are more than 5,000 different food additives used in the U.S – apparently know one, including the FDA, knows for sure. (The government doesn’t regulate or approve food additives.)

And considering 70% of the average American’s diet is made up of processed foods, what exactly all those multi-syllable food additives might be up to inside our bodies would be good to know.

Artificial dyes Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 5 They start out as grey and white powders that include nitric acid and tartaric acid. Then they're mixed with petroleum byproducts, neutralized with lye, and sprayed as a mist onto hot walls to instantly dry the mixture into these brightly-colored powders. Dwight Eschliman/Regan Arts

Artificial dyes Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 5 They start out as grey and white powders that include nitric acid and tartaric acid. Then they’re mixed with petroleum byproducts, neutralized with lye, and sprayed as a mist onto hot walls to instantly dry the mixture into these brightly-colored powders. Dwight Eschliman/Regan Arts

Recent consumer demand for more “natural” foods have made many processed food conglomerates take a second look at the artificial colorings, preservatives, emulsifiers, flavor-enhancers and other ingredients they’ve routinely dumped into their packaged goods for years.

Manufacturers say food additives are perfectly safe, while many health advocates – including paleo followers – are highly skeptical of those claims.

paleo-newbie-Shellac-food-additive-932x524

Shellac is also called confectioner’s resin or candy glaze. It’s a colorant and preservative made out of the resinous excretion from the Laccifer lacca insect. It’s harvested and processed for use as a natural plastic coating for candy and other foods. Dwight Eschliman/Regan Arts

If you’d like to learn more about food additives from a new perspective, Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products looks like a good place to start.

All photos © Dwight Eschliman/Regan Arts

Main Photo at top of post: Chlorophyll extracted from plants with harsh solvents, and typically treated with copper to prevent oxidation.

Here’s a link if you’d like to check out the upcoming book on Amazon.com: Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products


Read “What Do Food Additives Look Like Before They End Up In Your Food” via Wired.com for more.

 

How Many Ingredients Are in McDonald’s Fries? You Won’t Be Lovin’ The Answer

A new campaign has appeared on McDonald’s marketing menu – supposedly to lure millennials back into the fast food giant’s restaurants amid reports the number of young customers defecting to other casual food chains is growing.

The new pitch tagged “Our Food. Your Questions.” is an apparent bid to beef-up McD’s appeal to a younger, more health conscious generation. The meat of the campaign is a series of viral-ready videos featuring Grant Imahara, a former cast member of the popular “MythBuster” TV show.

In one video (see it below), Imahara explains what exactly goes into McDonald’s fries with the help of a handwritten easel pad – dutifully running through a long list of 19 ingredients.

McDonald’s fry recipe includes seven different oils – none of which are paleo approved by the way – along with some tongue-twisting oddities like dimethylpolysiloxane which Imahara describes as an anti-foaming agent…yummy!

Will McDonald’s new marketing campaign lure young patrons back into its stores? In my opinion, trying to pitch their food quality by detailing every one of the 19 ingredients in McDonald’s potato sticks may come across as too much information for the younger crowd who’s just hungry for a cheap, fast meal.

You can watch the video here: