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Food Additives I Don't Want To Eat

I read labels. It all started when I was a young bachelor and I wanted something “fancy” for dinner. I bought one of those seasoned rice packets, prepared and ate it, noticing it was very salty. When I looked at the listed ingredients I was shocked to discover that except for rice, it was pretty much all chemicals! I thought it was going to be just rice with herbs. Why did I need those artificial colors, flavors and preservatives?

By now, we _all_ know that processed foods are loaded with additives, for good or bad. But reading label after label, you find the same ones in almost everything. If I were to begin a career in manufacturing, I think I would make a lot of money producing Enriched Wheat Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soy Bean Oil, Citric Acid or Soy Lecithin.

There are some things I will not eat, because they contain these or other additives. I have become a “make-it-from-scratch” kind of person as opposed to a “buy-it-in-a-can” person. I know there are good reasons to buy canned products and processed foods on occasion, (sweetened condensed milk comes to mind) but some products will not be purchased willingly by me because of their additives.

Personally, I want nothing with Aspartame, or multiple sugars (i.e. Corn syrup _and_ Sugar _and_ Dextrose _and_ Glucose, etc.) I avoid MSG and any kind of “lo-cal” chemical substitutes. And I really try to avoid artificial flavorings.

I am of the mind that using real ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs) is healthier than using chemical substitutes, but that’s a debate in itself.

What additives do you refuse to buy, perhaps opting for a more “healthy” substitute (if there is one)?

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  1. I won't buy the chips or pringles with olestra. Maybe not healthier, but regular chips are just way better.

    I also avoid anything with aspartame.

    1. When I got out of college and started purchasing groceries and making food, I bought a lot of processed, boxed crap that my mother would never let us have when we were kids. I remember calling her in horror once after fixing my first (and last) box of Hamburger Helper because it literally ate the finish off the insides of my mouth because of the chemicals in it. This was the beginning of my food education as an adult, for sure. My Mom was laughing and was all like, I didn't just not feed you those things because I was mean, I didn't buy them because they're a) awful and b) very expensive compared to how many meals you get out of something you make from scratch. The evolution took many years, and then I had to teach mr. rockandroller.

      We (also) do not consume any sugar substitutes at all, I think there is just zero place for them in one's diet and zero reason to consume them. If I were diabetic, I just wouldn't eat sugary foods - I hardly eat any anyway as it is. We also avoid products with corn syrup like the plague. About the only time I drink pop anymore is when the passover coke comes out because it's made with sugar. Or my sister brings me coke from Mexico (this was my Xmas gift this year), which they sell at her grocery store in WI for some reason. I also just discovered a new version of 7-up they are selling at the organic section of my grocery and it's sweetened with good old fashioned SUGAR!

      I also cannot stand egg substitute and won't get "scrambled" eggs on a buffet or in a hotel because of it. And I hate fake syrup. It's just corn syrup.

      My biggest pet peeve is probaly the OIL in little packets they put out with your coffee and call it "creamer." Not cream, because obviously it's NOT cream, but "creamer." It's OIL. Usually like 4 different types of oil. Why would I want to put oil in my coffee? And if I were trying to watch my weight or my heart health by avoiding real cream, why would I want to put OIL in it instead? This boggles my mind.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rockandroller1

        If I see "Creme"-filled anything, I shudder. And I hate to see parents feeding that stuff to their children. That entire "food" is -- there's nothing there! It's a "food" made _from_ additives!

        1. re: cuccubear

          like the "kreme" filled donuts in dunkin donuts :)

        2. re: rockandroller1

          "My Mom was laughing and was all like, I didn't just not feed you those things because I was mean"...
          This describes my mom perfectly - I think she took a perverse pleasure in knowing that she could be mean to us under the guise of feeding us the right thing...

        3. Anything blue.

          Aspartame or any other artificial sugar.

          I am getting more grossed out by artificial crap in my food. Just reading what's in it is often enough to make me put the product back on the shelf. My husband has to be very wary of sodium and I am getting very anti-chemistry lab so betwixt Jack and Jill I am cooking just about everything from scratch. Which seems to me rather luxurious.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Querencia

            I suspect that's why the food is prepared with "chemical shortcuts", so it's easy! and no-hassle!

            I know people who only eat whipped cream out of a can, saying the real stuff is too fattening. But it's so easy to make, and one doesn't eat it everyday! So _be_ luxurious! :-) I don't want to eat an all-chemical food.

          2. I'm trying to stick to buying ingredients instead of prepared foods. I'm always surprised at what I find.

            Tonight, it was three different brands of dried blueberries, and each one containing HFCS. Seriously? It's dried fruit, people. How f*@%ing sweet does it need to be?

            1. Moderation in all things--well, most--is my mantra. I grew up in the '60s and '70s and I'm sure I had my fill of all the 'miracle' additives back then, with no ill effects I can see. I draw the line at saccharin (tastes yucky) and Olestra (diarrhea isn't my idea of fun). I don't get hysterical over HFCS, and I don't mind aspartame. I'll avoid 'chemicals' if I don't like the taste or texture they impart to food, or if I've got pretty compelling evidence they're bad for me, but I try not to worry too much because that makes my food taste bad for sure! I think I eat enough simple, 'real' food to balance out the test-tube stuff.

              1. I used to teach in an inner city after school program and I eventually began to notice a connection between the kids' behavior and what they had for lunch. The higher the nitrates the more rowdy the behavior. Hot dog days were hell.

                1. In a sense I don't refuse to buy anything. I simply buy groceries and my groceries don't include processed foods (although I eat Chef Boy R Dee ravioli in the US maybe once every other trip in part because I find it funny that I like it). The closest I have to processed food are Japanese and other Asian pickled vegetables.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Hi Sam, but do you ever find that even the simplest foods end up with more ingredients than what they are? Like artificial flavoring in a can of corn?
                    When you look at the label do you say "What's that? I'm not going to eat _that_!"?

                    1. re: cuccubear

                      Good point. I went to the ref and pantry before posting. I do have canned sardines, tuna, corn, smoked eel, jars of caviar, tomato paste, polenta, couscous, rice, dried pasta, dry lentils and beans, dried mushrooms, nori, wakami, pickled ginger, and more. The Japanese pickled ginger has HFCS. The corn has sugar (Colombia produces sugar but not HFCS), and salt. The tomato paste has glucose and citric acid. The rest is just what it is; and I don't use much of the products with additions. For corn I usually strip kernals from cobs. I mostly make my own pickled ginger.

                      I never buy chips, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, desserts, candy, frozen pizzas or dinners, hot dogs,,,

                  2. I like making food from scratch. Corn syrup is a no-no, and I hate even the idea of ketchup. I've said before that the smell of the corn product remanufacturing plant south of Chicago smelled like roasted rubber, and that smell haunts me to this day.

                    "Preservative-free" makes me laugh, when there's salt, sugar, or citric acid involved (not that any are bad) because all can be preservatives.

                    But I'm an oddity because I've been reading labels for over 20 years.

                    These days, I prefer foods (or ingredients) with 3 ingredients or less, including my canned tomatoes.

                    But, I love red. Most likely a backlash from no artificial colourings while living with my parents. I don't eat it that much, but candies in red are tasty. They're usually made with all of the bad things in many levels, and I have them 1-3x per year. Swedish fish. Red Hots. Red Gummis.

                    I haven't found Jack's Pizza since I left Chicago in 2004, but it was my favourite frozen pizza. Occasionally it can be found at Walgreen's (when on sale for 3-5/$10), but I've gotten tired of looking for it on the coasts. If I ever find it again, I might buy it.

                    1. In EU we can check food additives by E Numbers. There are also applications for this, for example for iPhone - E Numbers calc - http://www.sarson-iphone.com/en/e-num....

                      1. Being allergic to corn & all its derivatives, my shopping list includes only the most basic items in their most natural state possible. Your list of multiple sugars, dextrose, glucose, etc, are almost always from corn in the US. As is the Citric Acid. And the Enriched Flour...the vitamins are either derived from corn or are carried in a corn base. If you want to see just how many ingredients can come from corn, check out the current list of nearly 200 ingredients: http://www.cornallergens.com/list/cor...

                        And yes, sweetened condensed milk is wonderful thing...now if only I could get it to last longer in my pantry without disappearing.