If someone offered you a snack containing the chemicals 'E464', '3-METHYLBUT-YL ETHANOATE', 'YELLOW-BROWN E160a' and a generous helping of fructose, you'd probably think twice before sticking it in your mouth. However, the only thing you'd be turning down is an all-natural banana. In a bid to clear chemistry's shady food reputation, one Australian chemist has published a series of 'ingredients tables' for unprocessed and organic foods.
"As a Chemistry teacher, I want to erode the fear that many people have of “chemicals”, and demonstrate that nature evolves compounds, mechanisms and structures far more complicated and unpredictable than anything we can produce in the lab," James Kennedy explains on his blog.
"To make these graphics, I calculated the percentage composition of all the interesting ingredients and wrote an “ingredients” label for each fruit using E-numbers where they exist. Anthocynanins, which are said to give blueberries their “superfood” status, are also known as E163, for example."
All the ingredients on Kennedy's tables are 100 per cent natural (pesticides, fertilisers, insecticides or other contaminants are not listed). "For brevity’s sake, I omitted the thousands of minority ingredients including DNA," Kennedy notes.
The results are an interesting reminder that you can't automatically mistrust foods that have chemicals in them. That said, the scary-looking ingredients found in heavily processed junk food — such as monosodium glutamate (E621) and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) — should still be viewed with a modicum of caution.
You can check out Kennedy's ingredient labels for blueberries, eggs and passion fruits in the image below (click to enlarge):