UnChemical?

About the title: “UnChemical”

No one wants chemicals in their food. But of course all food has a chemistry, which can be tested in food labs as well as in high school chemistry classes. There are simple tests for sugars, starches, fats and proteins. One thing my students have noticed over the years is that the easiest foods to test are also the most refined ones: white sugar and flour, single fats, single proteins. When you try testing whole foods, the various components interfere with the simple tests. We often concluded that one of the reasons whole foods might be better for health is that they reacted less like the refined ones, in addition to always providing nutrition in addition to pure calories.

Usually by not wanting “chemicals” in their food, people today really mean toxins ranging from pesticides to excess fertilizers, additives such as colorings to trans fats. They don’t want to think that all food is “chemical” in some way, since the basic organic nutrients, carbohydrate, fat and protein, are chemical. Most people want to eat foods that are natural, but they may have grown to like the taste of many that are not (and even the term “natural” has variable meanings). They don’t want to think that all food is “chemical” in some way, since the basic organic nutrients, carbohydrate, fat and protein, are chemical.

The goal of this blog is to explain some of the most confusing issues in food chemistry in relatively simple terms. I will focus mainly on topics that students found extremely confusing at first, but then increasingly understandable as we built from simple concepts to more complex ones.

 

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