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.


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 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 for more.


10 Popular Restaurant Salads You Shouldn’t Order

What do you do when you’re stuck on the road, getting hungry, and far away from your paleo home?

Your first thought might be pulling into a fast food joint or chain restaurant and ordering up a nice crispy salad.

But not so fast…you may want to put the brakes on that idea when you learn many popular restaurant salads are loaded with unhealthy ingredients that add up to too many questionable calories. picked 10 well-known food establishments and took a closer look at their top-selling salads. (Click the link below for the original article with more detailed descriptions.)

Here’s a quick summary of the the worst found:

1. Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad

Wendy’s Spicy Chicken version of a Caesar salad weighs in at 780 calories, 51 grams of fat, and nearly a day’s worth of sodium.

2. Cheesecake Factory Grilled Chicken Tostada Salad

This grilled chicken salad adds up to almost 1,200 calories, 15 g fat, and more than a day’s worth of sodium.

3. Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad with Beef

Seasoned beef, white rice, cheese, beans, and a some lettuce and a few tomatoes are the ingredients inTaco Bell’s salad that adds up to 770 calories and 41 grams of fat stuck in a big fried shell.

4. Burger King Chicken Apple & Cranberry Garden Fresh Salad

BK’s salad is loaded up with breaded chicken fingers adds up to a 680-calorie meal with 42 grams of fat and 7 teaspoons of sugar.

5. TGI Friday’s Strawberry Fields Salad with Chicken

Fruit, chicken, goat cheese, pecans, and greens can’t be all that bad for you right? Well at 860 calories and 58 grams of fat, apparently it is.

6. Subway Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt Salad

At 510 calories with a dose of trans fat for good measure and too much sodium, this Subway salad goes off the rails if you ask me.

7. California Pizza Kitchen Thai Crunch

Made with more fried noodle sticks than vegetables and packing a whopping 1,460 calories with 97 grams of fat. Now some of that is healthy fat from an avocado, but still way off the charts for a salad.

8. Applebee’s Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad

This one sounds good, but at 1,340 calories, 80 grams of fat, and more than a day’s ideal limit of sodium it’s not so healthy. Add in the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar and this is definitely one to skip.

9. Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad

I’m not sure this one even qualifies as a salad because the greens, chicken and creamy dressing is served on a bed of cheese and quesadillas…all adding up to 1,430 calories with 96 grams of fat.

10. Hardee’s Chicken Taco Salad

A crispy tortilla shell, cheese, chicken, sour cream, and a few veggies brings this one up to 900 calories and 48 grams of fat – you might be better off ordering a burger and fries instead.

Read “The 10 Unhealthiest Salads You Can Order” via for more.

Let’s Not Get Physical: America’s Inactivity Level At All-Time High

The U.S. is certainly no slouch when it comes to consuming calories. The average American takes in 3,770 every day – more calories than any other nation in last year’s United Nations’ survey.

So it’s probably not a big surprise that that 83 million American’s (about 28% of the total population) recently reported they are “totally sedentary” – never once participating in any of over 100 physical activities ranging from basketball to bowling in all of 2014.

The 2015 Participation Report released this April was conducted by the Physical Activity Council (PAC) and based on more than 10,700 individuals and households that responded to questions about their physical activity in 2014.

An “inactive” person was defined as anyone who did not participate in the over 100 sports and activities listed in the PAC survey that included walking, camping, hiking, yoga, bicycling and dozens more. The survey used to include extremely low exertion sports such as darts and billiards, but eliminated those in 2007. Since then, the level of the nation’s inactivity has increased 18% in just six years.

Tom Cove, chief executive of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association and a member of the PAC noted the number of inactive Americans is the highest he has witnessed during the 24 years he’s been involved with the PAC survey.

“While we can look at this number in a negative light, I would like to use it as a wakeup call…it’s time we put our time and resources into industry initiatives and national campaigns to increase physical activity,” Mr. Cove added.

Further, PAC has found that physical education in the nation’s schools directly correlates to the fitness levels of individulals throughout life. A lessening emphasis on gym time for school kids over the years may be the main contributor to the rising inactivity level seen in adults today.


The Ugly Truth About Some Beauty Products

If you’re a regular visitor to Paleo Newbie, I know you’re someone who cares a lot about the quality of the food you choose for you and your family.

So when you hit the grocery store you may be looking for fruit that’s organically grown, or shopping for hamburger meat that’s grass-fed, or scanning product labels to check for things like chemical preservatives, food dyes and artificial flavorings.

Many of us go to great lengths to make sure what we’re eating is healthy, nutritious, and safe – and that’s great.

But…when it comes to the cosmetics and other personal care products we buy, most of us don’t give a second thought about what’s actually inside those tubes and bottles.

We figure if it’s a brand name we know, trust, and have used for years, it must be okay. And besides, it’s not like we’re going to eat our hair shampoo – so what’s the big deal?

Well according to a recent article posted on Chris Kresser’s web site, we should all be paying far more attention to the personal care products we buy because chances are they’re loaded with potentially harmful chemicals our bodies are drinking up like a sponge.

As the site’s excellent article “Are your skincare products toxic?” points out, your greatest risk to toxic exposure isn’t in the food you eat – the real danger may be what you’re rubbing into your hair and skin every day.

The article provides a great introduction to why your body’s largest organ is more efficient at absorbing whatever it comes into contact with than you might think.

And then it goes into more detail about the damage just a handful of the hundreds of unregulated chemicals commonly found in personal care products here in the U.S. may be causing. (The article specifically mentions a few of the worst offenders including triclosan, phthalates, parabens, sulfates, propylene glycols, and some of the chemicals found in fragrances – you’ll want to check your products labels after reading about these!)

This is a great article everyone should take a look at to learn what’s really inside the personal care products we buy – and how making smarter choices now can help protect you and your family’s health in the future.


Chipotle Eliminates Genetically-Modified Food From Its Menu

Chipotle Mexican Grill was the first major fast food chain to point out which food items on its menu contained Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) back in 2013.

This week Chipotle announced that all the cooked food it serves at its 1,800+ restaurants is GMO-free.

However, the company also stated that some soft drinks sold at Chipotle may still contain sweeteners made from genetically-engineered corn. Also noteworthy is some of the meat Chipotle serves may come from animals fed GMO-enhanced grains – but on the plus side, most of the restaurants now serve 100% grass-fed beef.

Chipotle says it used to cook with soy oil and canola oil – both made from GMO crops – but today Chipotle uses only GMO-free sunflower oil and rice bran oil in its kitchens.

Opinions vary on whether consuming GMO products are harmful or much ado about nothing. The Food and Drug Administration has officially labeled a number of genetically modified crops as safe for human consumption, while opponents say GMOs cause problems for the environment and may be hazardous to human health.

According to Chipotle, more than 80% of all processed foods in the US include some genetically modified ingredients, especially products derived from corn or soy. The biggest offenders include: soft drinks, fast food, cereals, breads and sandwich meats, packaged foods and snack foods.

Chipotle says it seeks out the highest-quality food sources, eliminating many large-scale industrial farms from its supply chain. The company prefers sourcing its meat and produce from smaller farmers who share the company’s values for humanely-raised animals and GMO-free crops.

Consumers who care about the quality of their fast food have made Chipotle the fastest growing fast food restaurant chain in the US over the last 10 years. But the company’s quality policy may now be hindering its growth – many of its restaurants have temporarily stopped serving carnitas (made from pork) due to a major supplier’s failure to meet the company’s high quality standards.


How to eat paleo at Chipotle:

Order the salad instead of a burrito, choose your favorite meat, add on the sautéed veggies, and pile on the salsa and guacamole. You’ll of course want to skip the rice, beans, sour cream, cheese and salad dressing if you’re following a strict paleo diet.