Top image L – R: Sodium benzoate, Azodicarbonamide, Shellac. The images are from Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products. Courtesy Dwight Eschliman/Regan Arts
We may eat a lot of food additives, but most consumers know very little about them. These often-misunderstood substances go by unwieldy names like “diacetyl” or “azodicarbonamide.” They are in everything from salad dressings to Twinkies. But how many of us actually know what they look like or, more importantly, what they’re doing in our food.
Ingredients, a new book by photographer Dwight Eschliman and writer Steve Ettlinger, seeks to demystify 75 common food additives, from acesulfame potassium to xanthan gum, by providing an easy-to-read encyclopedia of sorts on various food additives, their uses, and their history.
Eschliman, who had to source each additive before he could photograph it, says that he was surprised by “just how thoroughly this world is full of white powders and clear liquids.