Artificial Ingredients…

Feb 25, 2008 Published under Funnies, KIND Snacks, United States

Below is a funny article about a man that set out to discover where all the ingredients in a twinkie came from…and the greater issue about all the artificial ingredients in our food…

I never cease to be amazed how our mass culture has created a permissiveness to eat and manufacture products whose ingredients you can’t see or pronounce.

That is, by the way, why KIND has a commitment to "ingredients you can see and pronounce."(R)

Click below to go to the article…

Inside Bay Area (California)

February 24, 2008 Sunday


789 words

Man on a mission finds Twinkies’ natural origin

By Suzanne Bohan, STAFF WRITER

MOUNTAIN VIEW — When Steve Ettlinger donned a hard hat, a head lamp and emergency breathing equipment before his alarming descent 1,600 feet into a Wyoming mine shaft, he wondered if his quest to find the natural sources of all 39 ingredients in Hostess Twinkies had gone too far.

"As a food writer, I’d really gone astray," he told a crowd of about 100 Google employees

Feb. 15 at the company’s Mountain View headquarters, as well as employees viewing the talk remotely from six Google sites nationwide.

To complement the author’s talk, chefs at Google prepared organic versions of Twinkies for the event, using locally raised or procured products to make the almond-flavored, cream-filledpastries.

Ettlinger traversed the country and hopped the globe touring plants, mines and refineries to find the actual origins of the almost unpronounceable ingredients used to make Twinkies.

His young daughter’s puzzlement over a strange-sounding one called polysorbate 60 listed on her ice-cream-bar label inspired his quest, which led to the publication of his book, "Twinkie, Deconstructed." The hardcover version was released last year, and the softcover book is due out Tuesday.

Although Ettlinger chose Twinkies for his in-depth exploration on food additives, he’s quick to point out that the book is a treatise

on processed foods in general.

"This book is not just about Twinkies, I keep telling the lawyers from Hostess," he quipped to another crowd who gathered Feb. 13 at the University of California, Berkeley, to hear his talk. "All of these ingredients are in processed foods."

What he discovered continually astounded Ettlinger. "So many of the items are made directly from petroleum products, including natural gas or crude oil," he said. "That just blows my mind."

Tyler Shores, a Google employee who invited Ettlinger to speak, also expressed amazement after the talk. "It’s not one of those things that you would ever think about until you’re exposed to it," Shores said.

While eight of the ingredients in Twinkies come from domestic corn, and three from soybeans, others are derived from sources as divergent as rocks, trees and petroleum products (the latter are used to make niacin and food coloring, among other food products).

Still, despite the astonishing origins of many of these ingredients, he stops far short of calling them a public health concern.

"I didn’t study that," Ettlinger said. "I can’t go that far."

In addition, the Food and Drug Administration for years had required pre-market approval for food additives, requiring manufacturers to provide evidence of their additives’ safety to human health, according to the FDA’s Web site.

"I recognize the importance of processed food," Ettlinger said. "We’ve been processing foods forever; it’s allowed us to survive."

Besides providing a first-person narrative of his journey to discover the natural origins of a Twinkie, Ettlinger also explains why these chemical additives have become essential in mass food production.

"It’s mostly about shelf life," he said. That means fighting spoilage and the loss of moisture that turns home-baked foods stale within days.

When the first Twinkies hit the market in 1930, they had to be thrown out after a few days, since they lacked modern preservatives. But with the advent of food science, the shelf life kept increasing.

Polysorbate 60, a gooey mix made of corn, palm oil and petroleum that can’t spoil, now replaces dairy products in Twinkies and other processed foods. Sorbic acid keeps mold from ruining foods.

Today, Twinkies officially have a 25-day shelf life. Contrary to urban legend, however, they won’t survive a nuclear holocaust, said Ettlinger.

Ettlinger said he found it "appalling" that food manufacturers had so little knowledge of the origins of the ingredients used in their products.

He said he also did his research without the aid of Hostess, after a man with the title "Vice President of Cake" politely declined to open the company’s factory doors to him.

Still, he empathized with food manufacturers’ struggles to fight "chemophobia" over food additives. Even apples, Ettlinger points out, would sound unappealing if reduced to their constituent parts.

"If you only referred to an apple by its chemical ingredients, it would be scary, and you would not want to eat it," he said.

But Ettlinger said writing the book did change his habits, prompting him to shop more regularly at a farmers’ market.

"It’s obvious that (food additives) are unappetizing in many ways," he said. "From a personal point of view, I’d certainly prefer a fresh vegetable or fruit."

To view Steve Ettlinger’s talk at Google on Friday, visit .

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