On the food beat, there was a significant study that came out last fall about a link between preservatives (& food colorings) and hyperactivity in kids. This was reported in the British medical journal Lancet, which also means something. As someone who at least moonlights as a professional scientist, I can tell you that there's a big difference between studies that show a clear cause and effect relationship -- which this one does -- and studies like this one on kids who go to day care. That's a study that doesn't show much of anything at all: no clear cause, only a small effect. Journalists, unfortunately, generally report all studies on the same level.
Sodium benzoate in particular was tested in the Lancet study, and found to cause clear hyperactivity effects. Eat chemical ==> get hyper. So today while Elliot was helping himself to gobs of hummus with a tiny fork, I checked the ingredient list, and sure enough, there was sodium benzoate. Not all the hummus at the supermarket has preservatives in it, but this kind did.
It's not that I stopped the boy in mid-bite, but I did make a mental note. There are lots of kinds of hummus on the shelf. Just get the one with none of the weird chemicals in it.
We got in the habit of looking at ingredient lists when Whit and Jen were around last year, and Jen was saying, "Why the hell are there so many ingredients in Cheerios?" And we were like, Dude, don't worry about it. It will be fine.
And it probably will be fine, either way. But they have a good point. There just don't have to be that many ingredients in any food product -- food is not that complicated. But the point is also not to become superstitious or frightened. I'm just going to buy different hummus from now on.