Nothing can put a person off eating a thing like the ingredient list. (Well, except maybe the calorie count.) Once all those unpronounceable words that start with “dextra-” and “benzo-” and “butylate-” start piling up, the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup count becomes the least of concerns. Foods with chemical-rich ingredient lists like these seem far away from the world of biology, but of course it takes a little chemistry for even all-natural foods to occur as well.
Australian chemistry teacher James Kennedy recently created a series of posters that offers a light-hearted rebuke toward the condemnation of chemicals in foods. He is out to show that even when foods come from the earth, like berries, or from the bodies of animals, like eggs, they are still the result of chemical reactions. His posters itemize all the major ingredients in the most popular natural foods, using E-numbers (codes for substances which can be used as food additives) and IUPAC (The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) names for certain substances to make them more like typical ingredient lists.
As Kennedy told the New York Times: “The constituent ingredients were found on a nutritional analysis website; the color and preservative components were from old botany books; and the flavor compounds were found in published, peer-reviewed gas spectroscopy analyses of the volatile aromatic compounds in each fruit. In other words, all the data were from reputable sources.”
While it might seem a little dangerous for an educator’s project to ultimately put a happier face on processed snacks like Doritos, anything that gets people thinking critically and philosophically about what they put inside their bodies is probably a win.
Have a look at more of the posters in the slides above.