PICTURE: Nancy Folgmann

Rutin, glycine, and beta carophyllene: if you saw these words on an ingredients list, you'd probably presume the food was artificial and very unhealthy.

But these scary-sounding chemicals are in fact found in all-natural fresh fruit, a chemistry teacher has revealed.

James Kennedy, a high school teacher from Haileybury in Australia, has created ingredients lists for 'raw' foods that have not been processed in any way. And they list as many as 50 different chemicals, and sometimes even more, with some very off-putting scientific names to prove that even the most natural of foods contain acids, E numbers and preservatives.

 

Kennedy first created the ingredients lists back in 2014, but has added to his series with more posters revealing just how many chemicals natural foods can contain. He reveals that strawberries contain preservatives and E numbers, while even the humble peach contains ingredients such as 'gamma-jasmolactone' and 'hexadecanoic acid'.


Strawberries contain preservatives and E numbers PICTURE: James Kennedy


Kennedy's aim is to battle what he calls 'chemophobia' - the fear of chemicals.  

'There’s a tendency for advertisers to use the words "pure" and "simple" to describe "natural" products when they couldn’t be more wrong,' Kennedy writes on his blog.

 

Kennedy explains what some of the terrifying-sounding chemicals in cherries really mean.

He says that the cherry's bright red colour comes from the carotenes and capsanthin that the fruit contains. The cherry's flavour comes from the many different aroma compounds the fruit produces naturally, says Kennedy. It's why artificial cherries taste nothing like the real thing, he adds.

Replicating these compounds in a lab would be tricky and expensive, so instead only the first two compounds found in real cherries are added to artificial ones: (Z)-3-hexenol and 2-heptanone, according to Kennedy.

 

'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.'

Kennedy is now writing a book about the subject: Fighting Chemophobia, which is due to be published at the end of the year.

The posters have already sparked furious debates about natural foods v artificial replicas online, and which are better.

The message among health fanatics  that natural is better has intensified as the clean eating movement grows more and more popular, with 'raw' food diets - food that hasn't been canned, chemically processed or subjected to intense heat - becoming increasingly trendy.

 


Kennedy makes the point that even so-called natural foods such as peaches and bananas are not really natural, as they've been genetically engineered by humans over thousands of years. He states that watermelons used to be hard, bitter fruits the size of walnuts, while peaches used to be the size of cherries with very large pips.

So, should we be wary of all food then? Quite the opposite, of course, according to Kennedy.

Instead of fearing all chemicals, he wants to educate people so that they know which compounds have risks associated with them, and which are safe to eat.

'The psychology behind these irrational assumptions is innate and is present in all of us,' he wrote on his blog.

'It’s only with science education and a basic knowledge of toxicology that we can begin to assess the risks associated with different compounds in a meaningful way.'

Artificial food colourings, MSG, and caffeine are examples of additives which have been associated with health risks, for example.


Daily Mail