By Suzanne Laurie

Finding foods that are completely free of additives is an almost impossible task, and frankly not one that many of us have the time or inclination to undertake. However, as we are being regularly exposed to a cocktail of chemicals both in our food and in the environment, taking a few small steps to limit your exposure might be well worth it.ÿ This needn?t be the arduous task it sounds as many of the major supermarkets are now reacting to the publics call for better quality natural produce by introducing a greater variety of healthy foods to their stores.ÿ So here is your brief guide to where to go and what to buy if you want to become a low additive shopper.

Additive conscious supermarkets
Most supermarkets now produce their own ?healthy eating? ranges and some even offer separate products for children, including healthier versions of the foods they love. These generally contain less synthetic additives than comparable regular products. However, always read the label as some of the foods included in these ranges contain large amounts of salt and sugar to compensate for the lack of flavourings and preservatives. Although these may be preferable to a large intake of synthetic chemicals, they do have their own associated health problems and should be consumed in moderation.

Additive Conscious Manufacturers
Obviously the people that make our food decide what it will and will not contain. Historically ingredient choices have been governed by production costs rather than consideration for the amount of chemicals being added to our food supply and sadly, flavouring and colouring a yoghurt to look and taste like strawberries is significantly cheaper than adding the real thing.
Small independent health food manufacturers have been avoiding the use of synthetic additives for years. Major food producers have been reluctant to change their ways but are beginning to join the additive free revolution, which can only be beneficial to the consumer in helping bring down the cost and improve availability of low additive foods. Leading the pack is Birdseye who have recently removed all artificial additives (including colourings, flavourings and preservatives) from their products.

Low Additive Alternatives to Some of Your Favourite Foods

Fruit drinks ? particularly products such as Sunny Delightÿÿ 100% Pure fruit juice such as Tropicana products
Tinned soups Fresh soups such as The Covent Garden range, Baxters fresh soups or Supermarket?s own brands
Low fat or low sugar yoghurts Organic Bio yoghurts such as Yeo Valley yoghurts, which are available in fat free varieties
Pre-packed sliced bread or rolls Fresh bread from the supermarket bakery
Flavoured crisps, crackers and snacks Plain varieties contain less additives
Margarine Butter
Jars of pasta sauces Fresh pasta sauces or make your own
Highly flavoured breakfast cereals Jordan?s muesli, Shredded wheat, weetabix or porridge oats
Lager and wine Organic lagers and wines ? they should reduce your hangovers too!

Tips for avoiding unnecessary additives in your shop
?ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Buy organic where possible. Not only does organic food contain less pesticide residues but manufacturers generally add less additives to these product during processing
?ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Eat as much seasonal produce as possible e.g. strawberries in the summer, satsumas in the winter. It will reduce your exposure to anti-fungal and anti-bacterial chemicals commonly used to extend shelf life
?ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Be wary of ?low-sugar? or ?sugar-free? products as these often contain an array of artificial sweeteners.
?ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Buy fresh products instead of processed alternatives when purchasing soups, sauces, dips, meat and fish etc. They may not last as long once you get them home but this is due to the absence of additives not the quality of the product
?ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Be prepared to shop more frequently if possible. This way you can buy more fresh produce without the risk of it spoiling.
?ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Always read the label. If it contains a long list of unpronounceable ingredients or E numbers, it contains a lot of additives
?ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Expect the worst when labels are vague and mention ?flavourings? or ?colourings?. Manufacturers do not have to list every additive that falls under these terms so the product could contain 1 of each or 50 of each!
?ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Be careful when purchasing ?no frills? value products. These tend to contain more additives than regular alternatives as the use of additives instead of fresh ingredients keeps the cost down.