Organic vs. Processed Food
How do you choose to nourish your body?

Synopsis: In today's society, chemistry has been advancing at a fast pace. With new technology and ideas, the ability to process food increases dramatically. New chemicals have been invented to promote growth hormones, antiparasite drugs, and many others that can be dangerous to the body. Mothers are concerned about what they are feeding their kids, and what effects these chemicals could have on their children. Just recently, citizens from all different countries have been informed about what is being put into processed foods. As more information is being published, organic foods have grabbed the attention of many. Obesity is at an all time high,
and nutritionists are forced to wonder if processed foods are fueling the obsessive want for processed foods. Food processing is "any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat. It can be as simple as freezing or drying food to preserve nutrients and freshness, or as complex as formulating a frozen meal with the right balance of nutrients and ingredients" ( On the other hand, organic food is "grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation " ( Consumers throughout the United States now face the question: which is safer for our health, organic or processed food? Sales of organic produce have rocketed over the past few years with the organics industry sending out messages of safer, healthier food created by farming practices which are better for the environment. Many are leaning towards the "organic lifestyle" because of its benefits. Studies have hinted that organic foods may decrease the chances of cancers and other deadly diseases as well as increase lifespan. Organic farmers and their animals are not exposed to harmful toxins that regular farmers must work with every day. A mix of crops are used on organic farms which promote a balanced ecosystem including insects that protect crops from pests and worms and other micro-organisms which fertilize the soil. When consumers think organic, many think higher costs. Though organic food may cost more, experts insist buyers are spending their money wisely. According to WebMD, "If you can afford them, buy them," recommends New York University professor Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH. "It really is a personal choice but how can anyone think substances, such as pesticides, capable of killing insects, can be good for you?"

Chemistry Facts:
1. BHA and BHT: Processed foods often contain preservatives which allow the food to last longer than normal. Two common ones used to preserve fats are BHA and BHT. Both additives are approved by the FDA, yet because of the oxidative characteristics of BHA and BHT, the molecules can be very hard for certain people to metabolize. The chemical properties of the preservatives might be linked to health issues such as: carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) & BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). Oxygen reacts preferentially with BHA or BHT rather than oxidizing fats or oils, thereby protecting them from spoilage. In addition to being oxidizable, BHA and BHT are fat-soluble.

-BHA molecular formula C11H16O2 -BHT molecular formula C15H24O

Chemical structure of BHA.
Chemical structure of BHA.
external image bht.gif

2. Ephedrine alkaloids: are adrenaline-like stimulants that were used as additives, until banned by the FDA. Ephedrine binds itself to nonadrenaline in order to enter into nerve cells. Ephedrine alse has a higher pH level, which causes nerve cells to remain receptive causing the desired effects of the drug. The chemical make up of the substance, and abuse of the substance, proved to raise blood pressure, and stress the circulatory system which in return caused many cases of heart attack, stroke, and death. The chemical composition is very similar to adrenaline and eludes many of the same effects that adrenaline releases.

external image 265px-Adrenalin_-_Adrenaline.svg.png external image 0192801015.ephedrine.1.jpg
Adrenaline ^ Ephedrine Molecule ->

3. Monosodium glutamate (MSG): is an amino acid used widely as a flavor enhancer in frozen dinners, salad dressings, chips and restaurant food. MSG stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin even though there aren't carbohydrates to act on. Glutamate is an amino acid that causes nerve cells to die from overstimulation, which can result in stroke. Though used to boost the taste, it causes harmful side effects such as: headache, flushing, sweating, facial pressure or tightness, numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas, rapid heartbeats (heart palpitations), chest pain, nausea, weakness, seizures, brain cell death, brain damage, allergies, strokes, hypoglycemia, and brain tumors.
At room temperature, MSG is a salt, which typically exists as a white, odorless crystalline powder that is soluble in water and alcohol. It does not have a melting point, but it decomposes when it is heated. When crystals of MSG are created in a water solution, they develop into a rhombic prism.

external image 631px-Monosodium_glutamate.svg.png

4. Bovine Growth Hormone: Dairy farmers commonly inject their cows with rBGH, or the bovine growth hormone, to increase milk production, without thought to our health. Many countries have banned the sales of American milk because of the harmful side effects caused by the growth hormone. When cows are injected with the hormone, it increases the levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor-1. When non-infant humans consume the milk, the IGF-1 causes cells to overdivide, which can lead to many types of cancer. Many health related issues such as increased risks of obesity, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and hypertension aroused with the introduction of the hormone to cows producing our milk.
external image whats%20in%20your%20milk.jpgexternal image snapshot-p1.jpg

5. Potassium bromate: the additive is used to enhance the volume and crumb structure of bread. Although it usually does, the bromate can be extremely harmful if it does not break down into bromite during the baking process. The remaining bromate in the body's system has been linked to an increase of cancer, leading potassium bromate to be banned in many countries other than the United States. For bread to properly bake, molecular bridges must form between two gluten molecules. Oxidation causes these bridges to form. However, Potassium bromate is a powerful oxidizing agent that chemically ages flour much faster than open air.
Potassium bromate bleaches dough, and enhances its elasticity by strengthening its network of molecular bridges. This makes for the formation of tiny, thin-walled bubbles as the bread rises. The end product is fluffy, soft and unnaturally white.

external image Potassium_bromate.png

Summation:external image Dungo_Alan_OrganicVsProcessed.jpg

Obviously, many of the additives that companies are adding to foods are harming consumers. Some solutions to the problem could be...

Short Term-

1. Buy/eat organic. The following paragraph is from

Take a look at the list of ingredients from the strawberry flavoring of a milkshake served at a zip-through restaurant:
Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamylvalerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl Nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerbate, heliotropin, hydroxphrenyl-2butanone(10% solution to alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbone, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl slicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobulyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, sore rum ether, g-undecalctone, vanillin, and solvent3
Looks delicious, doesn't it?

By simply buying organic food, you can help yourself prevent cancerous tumors, lower your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. By thinking about what you are putting in your body may not only help you and your family, but it can protect the soil and environment.

2. Invent additives that are safe to the body.

If chemists can invent additives that can help foods stay better longer and not cause cancer, people would live longer and happier lives. explains that
The fact that "aspartame was once listed by the Pentagon as abiochemical warfare agentshould be all the information you need to avoid it." shares an experiment that was done by a women who was concerned about the aspartame that her family was injesting. This is what she found:

Each day, she fed 108 rats the amount of aspartame in two-thirds of an 8-ounce serving of diet soda, when adjusted for size. In less than three years, 37 percent of the female rats developed tumors.

Long Term-

1. Improve conditions for animals and growing enviornments.

Though this may not fix anything overnight, farmers on unorganic farms could treat their animals more humanely. This could mean they decide to feed their animals better quality foods, or not give them growth hormones or other toxins. Animals on organic farms seem to be the happiest, meaning they produce the best byproducts. Organic farmers care for their soil, too, and make sure the soil is getting the nutrition it needs to grow best. Organic farmers also reject genetically modified methods, leading to healthier animals.
external image 20100324-organic-vs-natural.gif

2. Buy foods that are locally grown.

If everyone bough food that was grown close to home, their would be no need for chemicals to preserve foods. The locavore movement aims to keep all foods local, which means it would not be necessary to import foods from other parts of the world. It would take a very long time to adjust to growing different kinds of foods all over the world, but it would cut down the amount of chemicals used that harm people daily.

How is Chemistry Involved?
Chemistry can be defined as the science that deals with the composition and properties of substances and various elementary forms of matter. Chemistry is most definitely involved in the debate between organic versus processed food. In fact, chemicals and chemistry is the reason this topic is impacting Americans so greatly. The composition of our foods is being altered if it is not labeled organic. Food processing "is any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat" (Food Insight). Chemicals such as BPA, Aspartame, and food dyes have been linked to reproductive abnormalities, diabetes, neurological problems, heart disease, and cancer. What food production companies are doing is essentially poisoning buyers to make their foods last long, more flavorful, and appeal to the eye; which all lead to money. In addition to tumors, "aspartame is associated with brain damage and nervous system disturbances; it also affects brain development in fetuses" ( The natural foods composition is being changed, as well as its properties. Food is not made to last on shelves for months, however, with harmful chemicals, companies can keep shelves stocked without having to spend much money.


John Collier-Related to your solution you suggested about improving living conditions for the animals. I found that cows treated with rGBH that is supposed to increase milk production actually increases the risk of clinical mastitis and lameness. Something that was supposed to actually improve production results in a lower yield. This is a loss-loss situation for both the animal and the farmer.

Bailey and Melissa-Hey girls!
We really enjoyed your topic choice on organic versus processed food informaive and interesting.We especially foud your post on how buying organic foods could help reduce one's risk of cancer. If you wer interested in going more indepth on the concept we found this website that we hope helps

Shelby&Elise- researchers have found that BHA in the diet of pregnant mice resulted in 50% less enzyme function and also change the sleeping, aggression, and weight factors of the animal. All while the mice were pregnant ultimately effecting the offspring.

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