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|Written by Will Parker|
|Wednesday, 10 June 2009 19:00|
Do you remember when you were five years old and were forced to go see a doctor because your ears hurt? Do you remember the doctor looking into your ear through some very cold metal thing and saying something to your parents about how you’ll need lots of rest and fluids? Do you remember going home, your ears still in pain, and being told that you’re not going to be able to go to school or to your friend’s birthday or to Beavers, because you were too sick? Do you remember how it was all worth it when you found out the doctor prescribed that banana medicine?
I still struggle to find a taste so inherently associated with happy childhood memories as is the wonderful sweet flavour of artificial banana. It is no wonder drug companies put childproof caps on their bottles of 250mg/mL amoxicillin – I guarantee you I would have drunk that entire bottle in seconds. Even as an adult today, while I technically know I shouldn’t get all excited over aspartame, colloidal silicon dioxide, D & C Yellow No. 10 aluminium lake, sodium benzoate, sodium citrate, sorbitol and xanthan gum, I can’t help but feel giddy when presented with an opportunity to indulge in that wonderful fake banana flavouring.
It’s strange that so many banana-flavoured products contain absolutely no banana at all. It’s also strange that this doesn’t seem to bother my local, organic, chemical-free sensibilities. For example, there is nothing I enjoy more than a banana milkshake. If you’ve ever tried to make one at home, you learn quickly that adding vanilla ice cream, milk and a banana to a blender will not produce that deliciously sweet bright yellow concoction you can get at your local Dairy Queen. I’m sad to say that without the addition of magic banana chemicals, the homemade banana milkshake literally pales in comparison to its artificial counterpart. Bakers will often find when attempting to flavour a banana pastry, the real thing just won’t cut it. The same can be said for a variety of banana treats – popsicles, pudding, liqueur, and candies – it’s unlikely a natural banana could produce such a potent flavour kick.
This all calls into question the use of flavourings in our food. With over 2000 different types of food additives on the market, it is nearly impossible to go through a day without encountering some sort of enhanced meal. I’m not about to get all Fast Food Nation on you, but the sheer magnitude of these additives is astounding and warrants some consideration. So much so that Health Canada publishes a pocket guide dedicated to helping consumers navigate the often challenging and confusing world of food additives. Generally, food additives help maintain nutritive qualities, enhance shelf life, make the product attractive, and aid in processing, packaging and storage. Flavourings in particular are designed to enhance and maintain the flavour of a product. In Canada, if there are any additives in the food, they must be listed on the product label. You’ll notice the next time you indulge in a banana popsicle, “artificial flavouring” is listed discreetly on the product label.
There is a real lexicon surrounding flavouring that confuses matters further. Artificial, natural, and natural identical flavourings are all found in our food. These definitions are generally European in origin, but proliferate among food products bought here in North America. As a primer, natural flavourings are taken directly from the source material. For example, vanillin, the thing that makes vanilla taste like vanilla, comes straight from vanilla beans. These natural flavourings must come directly from the raw plant or animal material to be considered natural. Similarly, natural identical flavourings are derived directly from the chemical structure of natural flavourings, only they are fabricated entirely in a lab. Scientists are able to break down exactly what it is about vanillin that makes it taste like vanilla, and in the lab, produce the natural identical vanillin flavouring. It is not artificial, however, because it can still technically be found in nature. Scientists have simply found a way to reproduce it. Artificial flavours, therefore, are those that cannot be found in nature. Scientists have determined what it is about that flavour that makes it taste good, and have chemically tweaked it to produce something entirely new, and arguably better. Ethylvanillin is a popular example of an artificial vanilla flavouring.
While some people point to the barrage of additives and flavourings in our foods as the source of all things wrong in the world, it is important to keep in mind that not all flavourings are created the same. Without delving too deeply into the pros and cons of an additive free diet, I can safely say I think my childhood would have been a little sadder without them. With that in mind, I think I’m ready for a banana shake – extra flavour please!
heyyyy guys well tbh this website doesnt really give me the information that i need....soo so kinda makes me upset as i am tr=yibg to do my work in scince and cant find out the inforamtion for this subject that i need. so tbh think you should up date it with useful information that i can use in my essay thankyou very much for your time x