Chemical Cuisine

If you can’t pronounce the ingredients and additives in your food, at least you can know whether they have been associated with any troubling health impacts and should be eaten with caution–or not eaten at all. The Chemical Cuisine app from the Center for Science in the Public Interest breaks down the unpronounceable (but OK to eat) and the innocent-sounding (but secretly sinister) alike.
One of my favorite “rules” from Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual is “Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.” Seems pretty simple until you find most grocery aisles are chock full of food with unpronounceable added ingredients straight out of your high school chemistry textbook. That’s where the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)’s new app, Chemical Cuisine, comes in.

Using your smart phone, you’ll be able to filter through their list of over 130 thoroughly researched food additives on your next trip to the grocery store. Discover whether the additive your curious about falls under one of five safety categories: “safe,” “cut back,” “caution,” “certain people should avoid” or “avoid”. The CSPI will also notify you every time it adds a new chemical to the list or updates an existing one on their database. (For anyone who’d rather peruse the full list online, it’s on CSPI’s website, too.)

If you can’t resist packaged or processed foods, Chemical Cuisine is worth the download. Reviewers call the app a “superbly researched” and “user-friendly” guide that is “indispensable for those who are conscious of personal nutrition”. And how else would you know that something as innocent-sounding as “caramel coloring” (used in colas, soy sauce, chocolate-flavored products and beer) may contain cancer-causing compounds–particularly in the case of drinks?

Price: $0.99