Food With Chemical Additives - What's in it For You

Flavored Coffee-- with additives. Packaged mixes can have surprising chemical additives.
Flavored Coffee-- with additives. Packaged mixes can have surprising chemical additives. | Source

A vision of Future Food

For a moment, let's imagine that a fictional yet ever-intrusive government seeking to protect everyone from themselves, passed a law forbidding people to use words like "cereal " or "bologna", by extending the truth in packaging and nutrition labeling to our everyday conversations.

We might, one day, be required by law to begin listing ingredients when we spoke about processed foods. We could begin to hear conversations like the following:

Chat With a Next Door Neighbor

"Hi, Bobbette! Haven't seen you for awhile . . .

"Come on over and have a hot cup of sugar, corn syrup solids, hydrogenated vegetable fat, sodium caseinate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium silico-aluminate, emulsifiers, artificial color, instant coffee, ....

. . . and . . .(breathing deeply) . . .

. . . cocoa processed with alkalai, ammonium carragenen, salt, and vanillin --an artificial flavoring-- with me, I shouted cheerily to my neighbor as she stepped out of her car and began unloading groceries.

Bologna sandwich?

Processed  "luncheon meats" are full of chemicals you wouldn't normally choose to eat.
Processed "luncheon meats" are full of chemicals you wouldn't normally choose to eat. | Source

"Oh, thanks," she said, " I''ll come over in a bit for the . . . what you said, but I was first just going to fix myself a quick sectioned and formed beef and pork, water, salt, corn syrup dextrose, flavorings, Hydrolized vegetable protein, Monosodium glutamate, ascorbic acid, oleoresin paprika, sodium nitrate . . . sandwich on . . . something.

A Question

If you ever make a homemade loaf or bread , or if you have ever thought of doing so, would you include a bunch of chemical ingredients, emulsifiers and preservatives?
NO?
Then why do we buy processed food products that sound like they have been formulated by mad scientists?

"I was in such a rush this morning," she explained,

" I didn't even have time for a bowl of oat flour, wheat starch, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate, . . . sodium phosphate . . . sodium ascorbate, artificial color, . . . niacin, iron, gum acacia, . . .Vitamin A, palmitate, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and, of course, BHT to preserve freshness!"

She was almost out of breath with reciting the legally required list of ingredients so well and so completely, that I didn't ask for any more details.

Cereal with yummy additives?

Even the most innocent-looking bowl of cereal can have an ingredient list that boggles the mind.
Even the most innocent-looking bowl of cereal can have an ingredient list that boggles the mind. | Source

"Well," I said as she pulled another bag out of the car, "I know Monday mornings can be hectic.

"If I hadn't seen to it that my kids had a decent breakfast this morning they would have been off to school with no more than a glass of sugar, nonfat dry milk, cocoa, corn syrup, solids, vegetable fat, sodium silico Aluminate, Carboxmethyl 1, cellulose, soy protein isolate, sodium caseinate, salt and artificial flavor.

"Heaven knows they wouldn't get far on that."

"Right, on," she agreed, " If mine get up five minutes late they think they can just rush off with only a toasted slice of wheat flour, water, select wheat bran, whole wheat, rye, defatted flaxseed meal, sugar, vital wheat gluten, molasses, shortening, yeast, soy flour, honey, salt, whey solids, yeast nutrients, dough conditioners, calcium propitianate, calcium sulfate, ferric phosphate, , niacin, thiamine and riboflavin

"-- and then they spread it with a little partially hardened soybean and cottenseed oils, nonfat dry milk, and water, salt vegetable lecithin, vegetable mono and diglicerides, sodium benzoate, citric acid, artificial flavor and color with vitamin A palmitate and Beta carotine added.

"They think they can get through a busy morning on that."

Package Comparison

On your next visit to the supermarket, compare similar products to get a better picture of ingredients. Chose your usual brand, and another one labeled as "organic" or "all natural". If you compare boxed macaroni and cheese brands, you might consider making the recipe from scratch.

Top your salad with something good.

Bottled prepared salad dressings are some of the worst offenders when it comes to artificial additives? Click this link to learn about how to make your salad truly healthful:

Distressing Dressings


"It's not exactly what I'd call a square meal," I agreed.


"How did you have time to fix breakfast for your kids this morning," she asked.

"Oh, simple," I said, "I just squeezed some oranges for juice and scrambled a few eggs."

She looked at me quizzically and disappeared inside her front door with the groceries.

I haven't seen Bobbette since the last time she came over to borrow a cup of monosodium glutamate.

I think she's avoiding me. Maybe I neglected to mention an important artificial ingredient?

Do you read ingredient lists on the food you buy?

  • Yes, I want to know what's in it.
  • No, they couldn't sell it if it was bad for you. Could they?
See results without voting

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54 comments

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Greast article! These are the things I worry about. I've all but given up bacon, bologna, anything with red food coloring, nitrites, fake sugar, etc. I love the way you wrote this:

"...a quick sectioned and formed beef and pork, water, salt, corn syrup dextrose, flavorings, Hydrolized vegetable protein, Monosodium glutamate, ascorbic acid, oleoresin paprika, sodium nitrate..."

So true...so true...Thanks, Rochelle


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

For a very serious subject, you found a very interesting way to tell it. What we often do wrong is start our day off on artificial ingredients and sugars, not realizing that a good dose of protein is what helps us to focus for the rest of the day.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, Alekhouse. I wrote this a long time ago and just found it in my miscellaneous file. I think the names of some of the additives have changed in recent years. (No one says hydrognated 'fat' anymore-- oil sounds better.) Also consumer awareness has made some food processors give up a few additives. MSG is much rarer now. Still, there are way tooo many additives in most processed foods-- things we would never think of putting in our own recipes.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you, Cardisa. The only way that it change, is for people to really become aware of what they are eating. Wouldn't it be a pain to have to really speak out all of these strange additives and know what they actually are?


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Rochelle, you are right on the mark with your headline, 'What's In It For You." Unfortunately, as you so wisely point out, there are a lot of ingredients in 'it' which we ought not to eat, like MSG. I wrote a hub once upon a time that listed the dozens of names the US government allows food mnufacturers to use rather than MSG. "MSG and Fat Rats and Us." Even when we read all the ingredients we are not always sure what is in it for us.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

You are right, drbj. Now that some processors have found out that a few people actually read the ingredients list, they have tried to make them sound a little more friendly. I'm shopping a lot more in the produce section. (Now I'm wondering what was sprayed on the apples.)

I will look for your MSG hub, thanks.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

This got to me, even though the whole approach to the subject was very light-hearted and humorous. I really do wonder what's in a Hostess Ho HO.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I think there's probably nothing in a HoHo-- that's why it sounds like it's laughing. Yeah, check labels. . . and thanks for the comment, Paradise7.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 5 years ago from Texas, USA

I enjoyed reading your article. Thanks for sharing; I am always concerned about chemicals in the foods I eat.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, Coolmon2009. I think there are good reasons for concern.


d.william profile image

d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

This is one of the best hubs i have read on this site. It is humorous, serious, informative and excellently written. Kudos to you.

I am a label reader so when i shop it takes me a while to find things with the least amounts of poisons listed. I did a hub a while back entitled "why i hate grocery shopping" that was meant to be sort of sarcastic, but hopefully it got the point across. I will link this hub to mine that are appropriate, if OK with you.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, d.william. Links are always fine, and yes, we all need to be label readers and probably would be better off if we bought more items with very short ingredient lists.

I bought a package of dried black beans the other day and was amazed to see the ingredients list said, "black beans". And that was all.


d.william profile image

d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Very cute and cleverly put and it would be a headache having to go through all that.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you, Hello, hello,. A very big headache ... or it would force us to use things that don't have the long ingredients list, for fear of arrest. That would just be wrong on so many levels.


SaMcNutt profile image

SaMcNutt 5 years ago from Englewood, CO

Love it. It is problematic to control everything in ones life, like you express. It seems extreme and yet, I could see this happening.

Great hub and worth being voted up!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I sure hope not. I could never remember those lists and I would have to eat eggs and apples. Thanks for reading , SaMcNutt.


SaMcNutt profile image

SaMcNutt 5 years ago from Englewood, CO

Me too, on both counts! :)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks again, just wanted to remind people to read labels.... even then, the information is often confusing or meaningless.


pan1974 profile image

pan1974 5 years ago from Columbus,Ga

wow, the end of your story just blew me awayWonder why she avoided you? I switched to simple foods and simple cooking along time ago to avoid all that stuuff, especailly high fructose corn syrup, I really beleve that, that it is one of the harshest sugars, just as worse as caffine.


Angelique Newman profile image

Angelique Newman 5 years ago from Canada

I loved how you wrote an important topic with a lighthearted spin on it. You got the message out there to read the labels and achieved an amused smile :)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

@ pan1974-- You probably realize this is fiction (for now) as for the corn syrup, yes I might say t is just as worse or worser than caffeine.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved it! Wish I'd have thought of it!

What would really be good would be for me (and everyone) to be educated thoroughly on exactly what all of that stuff is, and how it's digested, and what it does and doesn't do towards our personal health.

Sorry, I was dreaming again. . . .


CMCastro profile image

CMCastro 5 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

I am always concerned with what goes on inside my body when I ingest all these food additives. I am not worried about coming down with cancer but my body does produce allergic reactions to certain foods that are processed. I question the word "organic" on labels and I find myself comparing food labels all the time. Thanks for your hub. I know it will get readers to look at what they are eating a little bit more closely.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you Wesman Todd Shaw. Yes, I guess there's no way out, but to educate ourselves. I think we have been eating/drinking corn syrup for so long we have begun to think that it's OK-- after all, it's corn, right? Well, not exactly, and our bodies don't recognize it as corn.

There are several sites which have lists of food additives. Yes, we should know more about them.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

CMCastro: I'm glad you question. "Organic" is the new buzzword that is supposed to make us think that it's all good. Big processors have even jumped on the word and put it on their labels.

Some big food companies are actually eliminating some of the additives that were previously used, lowering sodium and corn syrup--but in other cases they are just changing the names of ingredients to make them sound better. We have to keep making noise.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Good stuff. :) As we learn more about the chems in our foods we will go back to fresh squeezed juice and eggs--no matter what anyone else things!

Fun hub, interesting comments--voted up.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, RTalloni. You are right, we need to get simpler in a lot of ways. I appreciate all of the comments.


.josh. profile image

.josh. 5 years ago

Fantastic hub, Rochelle -- it really is terrifying to look at the list of ingredients in some of the things we eat, which is why I try to follow Michael Pollan's guidelines on sticking to the outer perimeter of the grocery store (not that that's entirely foolproof either).

I really enjoyed reading this -- voted up and awesome. Well done!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, .josh. . My theory is if the name of an ingredient is hard to pronounce, I probably shouldn't eat it.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether

Voted up and funny. So true, too. Honestly I think it's sad that almost every product in our fridges and cabinets is filled with ingredients that aren't that necessary. If we eat what we need and not have to keep things for months then we wouldn't need all of the preservatives and additives, would we?


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

You make a good point, but the preservatives are more for the benefit of the processor, marketer and retailer. Such foods can be produced in mass quantity, shipped long distances and remain on the store shelf for a long time. If people want to store foods for months they can be dehydrated, freeze dried, pickled or often canned or frozen without additives.

Fresh is best, but food sometimes needs to be preserved. It has been done for centuries, but without all of the questionable chemicals that are now used.

Thanks for reading and commenting, kittythedreamer.


PADDYBOY60 profile image

PADDYBOY60 4 years ago from Centreville Michigan

This was hilarious! I tried to say some of those ingredients in one breath. There were too many. Lol.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 4 years ago from Midwest

This was great! I absolutely loved it LOL. I am very concerned about the garbage placed in processed, packaged foods. I agree with you that we can preserve foods without all the chemicals and crud. Thanks for the laugh.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you, CristinS. I'm glad you liked it. They write all of those things in teensy-weensy type, hoping we can't read it.--, but some of us still do. I think we have to keep bringing this stuff to light.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 3 years ago from Australia

This was powerful Rochelle, and disturbing of course. We don't say what we're eating, we just eat it. But when you actually 'read the 'food' as you've displayed, it's off the radar disgusting.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks so much, Jewels. All of these 'safe' additives and preservatives are seeming more and more troublesome. We may have sacrificed more than we know for the "convenience" of convenience foods.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

If only the government had not spared us the small mercies of food names we would be better off and healthy. Frightening list of chemicals and glad to have just orange juice and eggs. Fast, quick and healthy.

Very enjoyable read and yes shared and voted all the way up and across.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

This made me laugh. I bet if we did have to list off all that stuff in our food every time we thought about eating we would all stop eating that junk. Clever way to make an important point.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

rochelle - My hat is off to you. This is by far one of the best hub's in all of hubland. I hate that our food is packed full of chemical additives and that food processors aren't being stopped from using these unhealthy and even deadly chemicals.

A huge thumbs up for you! I can't wait to share this with everyone I know, pinning, twtr, FB, google! Voted up and completely across.

You deserve an award! Thanks so much.


Dan Barfield profile image

Dan Barfield 3 years ago from Gloucestershire, England, UK

Great hub!! Most amusing and very true. There are far too many things added to food these days. Natural is the way to go!

One thing I will say however... is that monosodium glutamate is the victim of serious bad press - a sensationalised food scare. The only serious scientific study done on its effects concluded that if anything it had a positive affect - specifically with regards to children's retention of information when reading if my own memory serves me correctly. Monosodium Glutamate is a naturally occurring chemical that was synthesized in the lab after being isolated from certain japanese foods that tasted particularly nice - it comes from seaweed I believe. Monosodium glutamate is an enhancer of the 'umami' flavour and reduces the need for salt in food (which is an obvious health benefit). It has NEVER been shown in any way that is even slightly convincing to be in any way bad for us. This information shocked me when I discovered it - but it is true. After all, if it really did give people brain lesions as the original food scare proposed, why doesn't the whole of Asia have a migraine? :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

I love the way you presented this information, great job! Yes, all the chemicals and additives that are being put in our foods is really scary. I try to grow what I can and purchase as natural as possible. When we go out to eat, I just try not to think about what is in the food and hope for the best! Voting up, useful, funny and interesting! :)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

It would be a pain in the neck, wouldn't it? On the other hand, It might make us think about what we are eating. Thank you.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you, vocalcoach. I do appreciate the sharing more than I can say.


timorous profile image

timorous 3 years ago from Me to You

Very amusing take on a more serious issue, Rochelle. I'm afraid the price many people pay for 'convenience' is a lower state of wellness. While these additives are not exactly harmful, the processing these products go through, seriously reduces the nutritional value, compared to the natural ingredients you would make the same thing out of.

The result is that you still feel hungry, and you end up eating more of it, since they've added more sugar and salt, to make it taste like something...leading to weight gain, other health problems...

I stick to natural stuff as much as I can, and I make a lot of my own food preparations from scratch.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you, Dan Barfield. The thing I don't understand about MSG is why it is added to so many things, If it is a "non- essential amino acid" why is it there? If it is to enhance flavor, is that because inferior ingredients are used in the product and it needs a boost? It may reduce the need for salt-- but it's still another form of sodium. Maybe it is not as bad as we once thought, but I am still suspicious of almost all additives.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I think it is good to be suspicious of processed foods, sgbrown. It is true that avoiding them all is almost impossible. Thanks for your boost.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I agree, timorous. Fresh is always best and, hopefully, more people are moving in that direction. Thank you for commenting.


alahiker28 profile image

alahiker28 3 years ago from the Deep South

EXCELLENT. I love the way you made your point! Very creative. And of course, true.


Dan Barfield profile image

Dan Barfield 3 years ago from Gloucestershire, England, UK

A fair point Rochelle - why is it added? If you research the history of why and how it was discovered it may answer your question. It is added because it makes savoury food taste amazing, basically. You can buy tubs of it on the internet in powder form. It's not in many shops in the western world because of the hangover from the original foodscare. Buy a tub then next time you make a curry, soup or something with a savoury sauce... just add a teaspoonsworth and enjoy :)


Fantasy Novels UK profile image

Fantasy Novels UK 2 years ago from Scotland

Great Title and article Rochelle, I loved how you got your point across with your snappy writing technique. It's crazy to think that we're a nation that has been brought up eating foods with unnecessary and harmful ingredients in them. What we need to do more is check what artificial ingredients have been added to each product. The older i'm getting the more wiser i'm becoming to what is in foods. I'm constantly checking food as it isn't only me, it's my kids that are eating them. I would have loved to have had this information many years a go when I was growing up would have saved myself from a whole lot of cups of monosodium glutamate


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 2 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I think the whole thing started out innocently. It seems to be laudable to preserve food longer, keep it from going bad, make it plentiful, tastier, cheap, easy to prepare-- and make a lot of money.

However, in pursuing the final objective, the health considerations were not really considered.

Thanks for your comment.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 19 months ago from Home Sweet Home

i must look into the labels before i buy packets of coffee and tea, thanks for your hub


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 19 months ago from California Gold Country Author

I think coffee and tea are usually free of most chemicals. Other factory processed foods might be more likely to have questionable ingredients. Thanks for the comment.

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