10 Frightening Fast Food Additives

The subject of additives in the American food supply has been debated with increasing intensity for decades. As science takes a more prominent role in development of longer lasting more disease resistant products the concern over how safe the chemicals and processes used in this process raises. What constitutes safe? How do you clearly define natural? What are the potential side effects? What’s more with scientific names like trimethyl glycol and disodium guanylate most consumers have no idea what they’re putting into their bodies, effectively nullifying the ability to make educated decisions. The FDA claims the safety of food additives can never be proven. Earlier decisions are under constant review as new evidence is uncovered. Even more surprising however, is that a large portion of the ingredients in food are not even evaluated by the FDA. That responsibility is left up to the manufacturers themselves. At least 1,000 ingredients have been introduced over a 50 year span with absolutely no review by the FDA.

Propylene Glycol – AntiFreeze

Propylene Glycol is a solvent used in the paints and plastics industry. It is an odorless, flavorless liquid that is generally used in food preparation as a moisturizer and solving agent. In short Propylene Glycol helps other additives mix together better. In dog food it is used to lower the freezing temperature of wet foods. The issue that wary consumers often take with PG is that it is also used as an anti-freeze, particularly in defrosting commercial planes. The chemical is not deemed safe for cats and has not been cleared for use in the European Union where food safety laws are notoriously stringent. In reality the known side effects of PG are the least on this list. Side effects note have been skin irritation, even through oral doses and lung irritation when inhaled.

What’s it in? McDonald’s Big Mac sauce, Folgers coffee.

GMO High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup is probably one of the most debated and villainized ingredients in the world’s food supply and with good reason. There have been numerous discoveries over the last couple decades revealing the potentially harmful side effects of ingesting what was once considered a miracle food. Add in the concern over GMO corn products and you have a one two punch of potentially hazardous, ethically questionable fillers. Since its introduction HFCS has been linked with the sudden onset of type II diabetes in adolescents and obesity. Both statistics have risen considerably (at least 70%) since the compound was approved for consumption in nearly every product we buy today. Other side effects include a rise in Leptin which directly affects the metabolism making you slow and lethargic. Ghrelin is an enzyme produced after consumption of HFCS that interferes with the brains ability to signal the feeling of ‘full’ to the body. Therefore you continue to eat even though you no longer need to.

What’s It In? Burger King Buns, soft drinks, Stacker sauce.
The list of foods that contain HFCS is too long to attempt. Almost every manufactured product on the shelves these days seems to contain this chemical.

Azodicarbonamide – Rubber

Like many ingredients listed here this additive is labeled as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA. For this particular ingredient the reasoning is that while the additive is commonly used as a blower in rubber manufacturing which includes everything from tires to yoga mats, it meets federal regulations in small amounts. This boils down to the government sanctioning what is known as food grade version of the additive that in small amounts are deemed to have no noticeable effects on humans. The purpose of the ingredient is to increase shelf life and limit waste. There have been studies which indicate azodicarbonamide is a respiratory sensitizer which may cause undesired reaction in asthmatics. Australia and the UK have banned the substance.

What’s It In? McRib Sandwich

Dimethylpolysiloxane – Plastic

A lot of people have jokingly asked which part of the chicken does the nugget come from? As it turns out the McNugget may be anything but chicken. Specifics aside one of the key ingredients in processed chicken sold at the fast food giant is dimethylpolysiloxane. Anything with the part ‘poly’ in it should be a clear giveaway to unnatural ingredients but this one is particularly interesting. Poly means plastic. As in breast implants and silly putty. That is exactly what dimethylpolysiloxane is used for. Also illegal in the UK but considered GRAS by the FDA this chemical compound has shown such side effects as nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse. In industrial settings it is used as an anti foaming agent in plastics production.

What’s It In? Chicken McNuggets

Caramel Coloring

This one seems innocuous. After all it has caramel in the title, not some long, complicated technical name. In reality this is one of the most widely consumed and least natural ingredients on the list. A name isn’t everything. Caramel coloring is what gives dark sodas their color. It is what Taco Bell puts in its meat to give it a uniform color. This is however not sugar that was melted and added to a recipe to increase its desirability it is actually a burnt chemical compound. Caramel coloring is achieved by starting with corn syrup, the kind we referenced earlier and superheating the already genetically modified mix until it burns. What remains is a melted version of the same substance that resembles and tastes like real sugar based caramel. Known side effects of ingestion include hypertension and high blood pressure. In California a lawsuit led to the changing of their caramel color additive by both Coca-Cola and Pepsi when it was determined to contain the carcinogen 4-methylimidazole. An organic version is also available.

What’s it in? Coke, Pepsi and Taco Bell meat.

MonoSodium Glutamate – MSG

Everyone knows about MSG. It’s the infamous ingredient in Chinese food that makes you feel hungry 30 minutes after you eat it. Why does this happen? Because MSG alters the way your body perceives what it is eating. The compound, usually in powdered form, tricks your tongue into thinking you’re eating more protein rich foods than you actually are. It is an anti-appetite suppressant. The result is you eat a lot more food with a lot less nutritional substance. Damage to the brain has also been shown not only to increase obesity rates, but damage the hypothalamus in such a way that Leptin (the substance responsible for weight loss) is ignored. Therefore you stay overweight. Studies have also made associations between MSG and Alzheimers, Autism and other diseases related to nerve damage of the brain. Common side effects known to affect approximately 30% of the population (the number sensitive to MSG) are nausea,vomiting,sweating,headaches and vision problems.

What’s It In? KFC Chicken.

MSG is in a lot of things. Bouillon, natural pork,beef and chicken flavoring, soy sauce and cornstarch to name a few.

L-cysteine – human hair or duck feathers

You would think that if there was an alternative to using human bi-products in food, that alternative would be used most often but this is not true. While it is possible to make L-cysteine from duck feathers or pig hair it is most often (90% by some estimates) made from human hair from China. Used as a dough conditioner and present in most breads as well as a meat flavoring in popular fast foods, there is even a synthetic version available. The expense involved continuously returns manufacturers to the human component. This is of particular concern to religious groups that prevent the consumption of human based foods.

What’s It In? Taco Bell Chalupa Supreme

Silicon Dioxide – Silica – Sand

When you were a kid you probably ate dirt. Most of us did and did relatively little harm to our young bodies. You most likely also assumed you stopped somewhere around kindergarten. In reality almost everyone eats sand every single day. Silicon Dioxide also referred to as Silica is nothing more than sand introduced into food products as an anti-caking/ anti-foaming agent. The solution also absorbs moisture to achieve desired consistency in commercial products. Aside from its gross factor, at the very unpleasant, silica has been known to cause allergic reactions and renal complications for those sensitive to it.

What’s It In? Wendy’s Chili

Cellulose – Wood Pulp/Cotton

In a similar vein nature has been offering a lot of unexpected surprises in our daily diets. When we think of eating healthier we often look towards leafy green vegetables and nuts or berries. Most of us have already been chowing down on wood pulp for some time. Cellulose, known by a variety of names is a filler. It simulates fullness in foods and allows them to reach the status of ‘low calorie’ by replacing other ingredients without limiting portion sizes. It can also be found in shredded cheese to prevent sticking together in package and powdered drinks.

What’s It In? Jack In The Box Smoothie

TBHQ – Butane

TBHQ is a form of butane. You can stop there. There is no but or qualifying factor. TBHQ is a chemical preservative with a long list of possible interactions. This ingredient is often used as a replacement in foods labeled ‘non-trans fat.’ Since it is often considered a secondary ingredient it is not necessary for companies to label it on their products. Possible interactions include: nausea, delirium, collapse,tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and vomiting, hyperactivity, asthma, rhinitis and dermatitis. It may aggravate ADHD symptoms. Studies have shown links to cancerous development in rats, DNA damage and interference with estrogen levels in women.

What’s It In? Chicken McNuggets, Girl Scout Cookies, Diet Foods


Bisphenol-A – BPA

They say you should always wash your hands before eating. Here is a good example why. BPA is a chemical found in plastic. The compound was deemed too dangerous to be used in baby bottles or toys that children put in their mouth but was still considered GRAS for adult consumption. The chemical leaks into food that is stored in plastic containers, especially those that are heated with food inside, and from the lining of cans. Recent studies including one performed at Stanford University have indicated a possible link to an exceptional raise in miscarriage risk for exposed women. Some studies have also suggested depression as a side effect of BPA exposure. BPA is highly present on paper receipts which has led Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut (all owned by Yum! Brands) and other fast food franchises to eliminate their use in those restaurants. Experts have claimed it is impossible to eliminate exposure to BPA (in the US) and is in fact already present in virtually everyone’s blood stream.

Possible side effects: Breast and prostate cancer, genital deformity, impaired immune system, low sperm count, Down’s, Turner and Klinefelter Syndrome, impaired learning, elimination of sex differences in behavior, changes in response to fear or pain stimulus.

What’s It In? Fast food in general and canned foods. Highest concentrations were found in hamburgers.

Thoughts On Religion


Disclaimer: This shouldn’t even be necessary but these are my thoughts, not an argument or an attack on any person, place, thing, animal, vegetable, country, race, religion, creed, lifestyle or attempt to feel ‘special’ in any way.

I believe an intelligent person could put together a few things that must have happened.

1. We were created, came into being, were once not here and are now here.

2. The thing that did that must be bigger ie: more substantial than we are, that’s just physics, given that we’re all parts of that original whole. See Gestalt theory for further explanation.

3. As time progresses we change form, through evolution and the natural migration of energy into mass and mass into energy (Einstein)

From this I deduce: I am part of a living thing that exists everywhere in the visible and invisible realm. That thing, that everything, I call God. The creator, by definition.

I choose to believe we can interact with that everything of which we are not from, but part of, in ways we haven’t come to understand yet.

The religious texts of the world, they are history lessons. They are our attempts to understand this world we live in, and the existence of science and its explanation of this world does not disprove any thing written by men who attempted to understand their universe.

The first elephant skeletons discovered were thought to be cyclops, doesn’t mean the elephant wasn’t real, just not a cyclops. In their own way, religious men were the first scientists, trying to explain their world, and science in its own form has become a religion unto itself. I view science as the logical explanation of who ‘God’ is.

Example: That carbon based life form consists almost entirely of water. It is an advanced form of primate, with a number of genetic mutations indicative of rampant breeding and extended periods outside of its own habitat. It is noted to be aggressive towards its peers and survives primarily on synthetic nutrition derived from animal and chemical based food products. aka: John.

Every one with a set of beliefs will annoy those with different beliefs. This is our life, our existence and our feelings about where we belong in it. It’s kind of a big deal. To put a little humor in it, some people are Browns fans, even though most of us know they suck and probably always will. This doesn’t mean we should shun our ‘foolish’ friends for their faith. They have personal reasons for identifying as they do with their chosen affiliation and in the end, it doesn’t affect the rest of us in any real way. For those that shout oppression, if we ALL took this stance, there would be no oppression. Just thoughts.

Religion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.

Voluntourism – More Than Just A Funny Word.

OK, it’s not technically a word but it should be. Voluntourism or volunteer tourism as it’s commonly called, is a new wave in independent travel. Tourists from around the world are seeking more in today’s increasingly smaller world than the old standards of traditional globetrotting. Monuments and hotels are all well and good but commercialism has left a large number of travel enthusiasts jaded, searching for something more than poolside bars and continental breakfasts. The true spirit of adventure requires engagement with the cultures you encounter, to embrace the differences of those whose lives are so fundamentally different from your own. Cultural exchange is one of the primary driving forces behind tourism in the first place. Those that understand this call to action that fuels a burning wanderlust and insatiable desire for interaction with the world at large are turning their sights to a new more personal approach.

Voluntourism places the traveler, a volunteer in their adopted community, face to face with the people who spend their entire lives there. Through daily efforts that include much more than sitting on a beach watching sunsets, the experience is richer, fuller for the effort. There is of course plenty of time for sightseeing. Those that work in Tanzania spend their entire trip in the shadow of Kilimanjaro while assisting malnourished children at a local infirmary. Volunteers in Salvador, Brazil sleep in tree houses amongst the lush tropical rainforests before making their journey to the city where they care for the elderly.

Companies are figuring this out too. Many volunteer organizations have established short-term (one week in some cases) programs designed to attract vacationers that want more than the run of the mill experience. It’s a trip you’ll never forget.

Why Write?

Artist, Adventurer, Entrepreneur…….The undying spirit that wants to change the world. I have dedicated my life to the experience of being alive and overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves. When friends ask ‘Why?,’ I feel compelled to ask ‘Why not?’ Through these experiences, including relentless travels around the globe I have gathered wisdom on how to exist in a vast, ever changing world. Over time I began to understand that storytellers are an integral part of our society. They are an overlooked yet priceless commodity. Everything we know and believe about our society and even ourselves comes from the knowledge we have gleaned from our storytellers. It doesn’t matter if it’s from historical texts recounting events from centuries past, or modern day parody simplifying issues into a humorous tone for our entertainment, the words we use shape our world. In order to change the world you must first understand it, then you must find a way to shape that understanding into a concept that can be related via speech or text. As a writer I take every opportunity to perfect my craft in every way.

10 Signs You’re The Star Of A Horror Movie


      Do you often hear creepy music when you’re alone? Are all your friends disappearing under unusual circumstances? Do you feel like you’re being watched through that darkened bedroom window? Congratulations you’re either a creepy psychopath or you’re the star in a Hollywood horror movie. Either way chances are no one wants to be your friend anymore. Neither one is particularly pleasant but being the star of your own horror film can be a plus. The main character of any good slasher flick almost never dies, not in the first installment anyways.

Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

     A good indicator that you may be involuntarily starring in a creepfest feature film is waking up in strange locations. Sure it could be those extra shots of Jäger you had at last night’s keg party but it could also be the sign of a selective blackout episode that will haunt you well into the second reel. Conversely waking up mid-apocalypse is an almost given for any zombie horde/scary monster movie ever made (See: 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, The Puppet Masters (Google it.)

Only The Lonely

     Isolation is one of mankind’s worst fears and subsequently a recurring theme in modern horror. Have you recently broken up with your girlfriend or significant other? Have your best friends abandoned you over your weird behavior or perceived general creepiness? Once again maybe you really are a psycho and should seek professional help. Maybe you spend too much time reading about weird stuff on the internet instead of you know, going outside. But maybe, just maybe you’re in a scary movie and those friends of yours are going to start popping up any second now hanging from their own entrails in the shower or floating face down in a nearby lake with strange occult symbols carved into their flesh. (FYI: This is why no one wants to be friends with you)

Special Delivery

     There’s a huge difference between unsolicited letters from Publishers Clearing House claiming you may be the next big winner! and threatening messages scrawled in chicken’s blood on your bedroom ceiling. Remember the part about waking up in weird places? Applies here too. If you start your day with threatening phone calls, strange curses from gypsy types, dead animals on your doorstep or any other less than ambiguous alert to the dubious intentions of your yet to be revealed super creepy fan club president, chances are it’s going to take a lot more than a Starbucks latte and a hang in there kitten poster to get through the day. Sh*ts about to get real and you’re the target

That Was Close!

     Step off any curbs lately, narrowly escaping the unenviable fate of being turned into street pizza by a (dubiously) speeding bus? Have you narrowly missed being squashed by large objects falling from rooftops a la Looney Tunes style cartoons? Were you almost blown into teeny tiny blood soaked chunks of Holy Sh*t only to be saved at the last second by a faulty valve or other unlikely serendipitous stroke of insanely good luck? Don’t go soaking your underoos just yet with cocker spaniel-esque spurts of excitement. Scriptwriters are sadists that love screwing with their main characters more than anything in the world (even Twinkies.) The reason you’re still alive and not taking up space in a refrigerated box in the basement of the local hospital is that you’re the star and nothing is too good (or bad) for the star. That’s right slim, in most cases the main character dies the worst, most gruesome death of all. Don’t believe me? Check out any Friday the 13th movie ever…..ever. Good news? You get top billing.

Family Ties

     It’s possible, even likely that your current predicament as center of the universe to the top level crapfest your life is becoming isn’t even your fault. Just like that overbite from grade school and your chronic psoriasis you can probably blame your parents. Genetics plays a huge role in horror movies much the same as Hollywood. In this case it’s not who you know but who you are. Maybe you’re the great grandson of a famous psycho/ghost/serial murderer that seeks to use you as a vehicle for his return? (See: The House On Haunted Hill) Maybe you’re the unfortunate result of hideously dysfunctional family groups seeking long lost relatives to resolve their blood feuds, or perhaps your parents are members of an underground cult and know that you’re probably a virgin since you spend all day alone in your room downloading increasingly shameful porn and therefore the perfect choice for a sacrifice to their bizarre deities.

Big Man On Campus

     When things go wrong who do people look to? You find yourself in the middle of a drug and booze fueled hormone fest, surrounded by hot co-eds and all varieties of wanton debauchery when suddenly the lights go out and twenty pairs of eyes are all looking to you to go check for blown fuses. Congratulations again, you’re definitely the star, even worse you get to live through the next two hours of watching each of these frightened kittens get sliced and diced in unique and creative ways before coming face to face with the escaped lunatic responsible in the climactic final scene. You probably even get to think you’ve offed the crazy bastard before he comes back to life and shoves a pool cue through your chest.

Nobody Loves Me

     Are you a loner? A loser, geek or outcast? Don’t be sad, irony is the spice of horror movie life. Just because Fred and Daphne are taking charge of the situation and corralling all the other screaming teenagers into what will surely turn out to be their final resting places, doesn’t mean that’s where the real show is. People love an underdog. They absolutely squeal with delight as the loveable loser proves all his contemporaries wrong and rises to the occasion, shedding whatever socially alienating personality flaws have assured his inability to achieve intercourse let alone any kind of popularity and dons the mantle of hero. The downside? This guy almost always dies, badly. You might overcome the impossible, if you’re lucky you may even hook up with the jock’s hot girlfriend as she mourns her recently decapitated paramour. Sex heals all wounds right? right? You will probably even dispatch the main bad guy with flair and style leading to thunderous applause in theaters across the map. Unfortunately society demands balance and that disfigured baddie you left hanging from the rafters in the burning cabin? He’s back and he’s waiting in the backseat when you arrive. After all, in horror movies it’s the monster that is the real star.