Focus Friday: Scary Chemical Names Aren’t Always Scary Chemicals

 

The other day my husband brought a box of something to me saying he didn’t think it was clean. This happens to be one of my favorite products and I was pretty sure I had properly vetted it, so I was surprised. He pointed out two ingredients he was concerned about: sodium bicarbonate and monocalcium phosphate. Sodium bicarbonate I know to be baking soda, but I had to take a second look at monocalcium phosphate. I know I had looked it up before, but I couldn’t remember what it was.

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Turns out it’s a acid that is a leavening agent, that, when combined with sodium bicarbonate, makes baking powder. It appears to be generally accepted as safe, but as I dug in some more, I found something I had not previously known. Baking powder often contains cornstarch. This is a typical ingredient list for baking powder: corn starch, bicarbonate of soda, sodium aluminum sulfate, monocalcium phosphate.

You may know that corn is one of the largest GMO crops in the US and in nearly everything, so anything besides organic cornstarch is something I try to avoid. And there’s also the concern about aluminum that it can be irritating to the nervous system, as well as the eyes and the lungs.

I know it can be argued that it’s a very small amount, but take all those small amounts you consume in various foods, add them up and you suddenly have a large amount. So I’ll be making my own baking powder from now on to avoid GMOs. Here’s how:

1 part baking soda

1 part organic cornstarch

2 parts cream of tarter

So, just because something has a big long name, doesn’t necessarily mean its dangerous BUT even normal pantry staples deserve a second look, because sometimes they’re not exactly what you expect.

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