What is Food Chemistry?

Here at FoodCrumbles, we’re passionate about science and food. When you combine those two you enter the world of ‘Food Science’. Food scientists study the science of food, they might use chemistry, physics, biology, math, and various other disciplines to do so.

Food Chemistry is one field within the food science discipline, again the definition is pretty straightforward:

Food chemists study the chemistry of foods.

Chemistry itself is a large discipline within the sciences. You could define it as:

“Chemistry is the branch of science that deals with the properties, composition, and structure of elements and compounds, how they can change, and the energy that is released or absorbed when they change.”

Melvyn C. Usselman, Brittanica

Food chemists look at the building blocks of our food (e.g. atoms and molecules, we’ll dig into those a little later) and look at how they can transform and react. Chemists can help explain how and why red cabbage changes color, how baking powder and baking soda help expand your muffins, how a banana turns brown, what makes vanilla taste like vanilla, and much more.

It may still sound a little abstract at this point, but don’t worry, once we get started it will start to make sense. To start to bring this to life, we’ll walk through a few examples next. You’ll be asked to define whether the topics mentioned would typically be studied by a food chemist. It will help you bring the field to life.