Color Me Badddddd.....
Here’s the deal. Food dyes offer absolutely no health benefits to humans. They are used purely for marketing – most often to attract the very people they will cause the most harm to: children. Oftentimes they are added to make something that looks unappetizing look fun or delicious.
Americans are now eating 5 times the amount of food dye they did in 1995. Risks include everything from tumors to chromosomal damage, hyperactivity (ADHD) in children, asthma, insomnia, allergies and more.
Many of these fake colors have been taken off the shelf in other countries. In the EU foods that contain dyes must carry the following warning: “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” Since my mom is currently in London I asked her to do me a favor and find such a label at the store. I got the following message back. “I walked to the market. Walked around the whole store and could not find one thing with artificial color. Even the cans and cartons are recyclable.”
If you compare the same brand of candy in the U.S. to one from the U.K. you will find that ours contain food coloring with numbers (like red #40 and blue #1) and theirs contain natural dyes that come from fruits and vegetables (organic black currant, organic carrot). Mic drop.
Want to talk about making America great again? Let’s start by taking unsafe ingredients out of our food system.
In the meantime, now that we know artificial food coloring sucks…how can we avoid consuming it? Fortunately, it is pretty simple.
1. Stick to whole fresh foods and avoid the processed ones.
2. Shop organic. Organic foods are the only food category required by the U.S. government to be free of artificial dyes.
3. Read labels. Avoid foods with ingredients lists containing colors followed by numbers (i.e. Blue #1).
4. Opt for natural food coloring. You can buy natural coloring like this, this or this. Or you can make your own. There are lots of recipes out there, but here are some simple ways to get every color in the rainbow. Use nature (produce) as your guide to get the colors you want. Remember that the colors will be more subtle and you won’t want to use a ton because you’re looking for color, not flavor.
Red and Pink
Beets. Juice or boil them in a little bit of water to make a concentrated liquid. You can also use berries by mashing or blending them then straining the liquid. Pomegrante juice is another option.
Carrots. Juice them or buy some 100% carrot juice at the market.
Tumeric! Just add a touch because turmeric is strong and you don’t want to impart flavor.
Spinach. Use some juice or whip some spinach leaves into your frosting with a blender.
Make your purple dye (below) then add a bit of baking soda at the end. It will react with the cabbage to turn the purple into blue.
Cabbage. Boil the cabbage until you get a dark, concentrated broth.