Why I'm starting a food sci-comm blog!


    Image - Picture depicting open tubs of many different granular and powder ingredients of various colours 

    I am a food scientist, and I am starting a food science blog called 'What is that ingredient'. I want to educate the public about their food and food ingredients. 



    Several reasons. The main one being that consumers don't trust the food industry. Many different surveys have consistently found this (e.g.) EIT Food Tracker in Europe, FoodThink in the US. Significant amounts of consumers don't trust the food industry. In the US, regulatory bodies and food companies did not make the top 7 trusted sources. I'm going to emphasis that - The organisations wholly responsible for creating and enforcing food safety laws and the people making the food are not trusted by the people who are buying the food. That is shocking. If it were any other industry, it wouldn't still be around. 


    Another reason is, so many consumer do not understand the different ingredients that are in their food and beverages. That's not a new thing; the food industry has always been very closed about what exactly they are putting in food to avoid revealing 'trade secrets'. But this has led some people to be sceptical about food ingredients. This scepticism is being passed down to the next generation though, which has especially noticeable lately because of a Tik Tok trend. The one where people are putting beverage though a water filter and then being shocked that a water-like substance is all that is left. Do you know the one I'm talking about?


    Last week, I saw one where an energy drink was filtered. Before it was though, the people in the video read the ingredients label and said something similar to 'I don't know what this is made of - should these things be in my body?'. Firstly, yes, it should. If any ingredient is in a food, it is safe to eat as part of a healthy diet (i.e.) in moderation. Too much of any food ingredient is bad for you. The other thing that struck me about this video was 'ascorbic acid' was explicitly highlighted as a suspicious ingredient. Ascorbic acid is vitamin C. 


    I had been playing around with the idea of officially launching a food science communication blog for a while, but I was having a hard time choosing a topic. I have many interests around food, and honestly, if I didn't have a specific found, I would bounce from topic to topic. When I started to see videos like the one described above, I decided to go with general information about food ingredients.


    What exactly is general information about food ingredients?

    General information can take many forms depending on the exact ingredient. If the specific ingredient makes up a food itself (e.g.) tea - I'd talk about where it comes from, how it's made/processed and if there are different types of the food. If it is something like a food additive - I'd talk about things like where it comes from, how it was discovered, it's uses, and what exactly it's doing in the food product it's included in. 


    What form will this take?

    I'll post a weekly blog about a food ingredient - with a summary at the top, which will also be posted on Twitter/Instagram (@whatsthatingred). The post will then go into more detail about the ingredient for anyone who wishes to learn more about it. I might move to a video in the future, but for now, I'll stick with the blog! 


    Where will I get the ideas for posts? 

    Everywhere really. I mean I might just pick up a food packet and read the label. See what jumps off. I'll also take requests thought, see if people want to learn about something in particular (email is whatisthatingredient@gmail.com).

    But I think I'll start with ascorbic acid for this Saturday's post.