The healthiest diet consists of a rainbow of colors from the garden, but has been hijacked with artificial colors. In this series I have attempted to expose the detrimental effects from artificial colors we have grown used to eating. I have covered eating the real rainbow in my Color Me Beautiful Series: RED, YELLOW, BLUE, GREEN, and ORANGE. You will see the difference between the two (artificial vs authentic), so I encourage you to check out those articles and find out the different between them and the artificial food dye rainbow.
FDA (Food & Drug Administration)
Do you think the FDA has your best health in mind? According to it’s regulatory guidelines, a declaration of all colorings added to butter, cheese, and ice cream, is voluntary according to § 101.22 – Foods; labeling of spices, flavorings, colorings and chemical preservatives. I would encourage you to read up on the government’s regulations.
There are no warnings in the U.S. (as there is in the European Union) that alert parents that the dyes contained in the foods have been shown to cause behavioral changes and attention issues in children. Today’s artificial dyes are mostly derived from petroleum – the same petroleum we use to fuel our cars.
Did you know that the color of your food, dishes, table linens, and even wall color can all have an affect on your appetite? Some color can excite your senses and entice you to eat more, while others can actually help curb mindless snacking. Here is a chart to put it all in perspective…For instance dish-ware that’s all white can encourage over eating and leave you feeling less satisfied.
Perceived affects of colors: food marketers capitalize on emotional eating.
- Red This is appetizing.
- Yellow This will make you happy.
- Green This is natural and healthy. Eat without risk.
- Orange This will satisfy you.
- Blue Suppresses appetite.
Color & Shopping
A study on the impact of color in marketing found that as many as 90% of shoppers make snap judgments about products based on color alone—in 90 seconds or less.(1)
Why does the food industry go artificial?
Why bother with artificial or synthetic, food colorings? Aren’t there enough natural colors to go around? A big reason to go artificial is cost. Synthetic dyes can be mass-produced at a fraction of the cost of gathering and processing the materials used to make natural colorings.
Another reason is shelf life. Artificial dyes might be longer-lasting than natural ones of the same color. Also, although nature produces an impressive hue of colors, those suitable for use as a food dye are limited. But there is no limit to the variety of colors that can be artificially produced in a lab.
- Companies like using them because they are cheaper, more stable, and brighter than most natural colorings. The dyes protect against color loss, even out natural variations in food color and make “fun foods” colorful and more visually appealing.
- Food manufacturers use synthetic dyes mainly for marketing reasons and to meet new consumer demand. (This means we, the consumer, have influence with our pocket books.)
- Food industries are ignoring the guidelines provided by these regulatory agencies to sell their products in a large scale.
Enticing consumers to buy and especially children. Children are the Main Victims of Food Dye.
Let’s take a look at Be Food Smart’s report cards on each of the acceptable FDA colors:
Report Card/Grade: “D”
Alternate Names: Allura Red AC, FD&C Red. No. 40 Calcium Lake, FD&C Red. No. 40 – Aluminum Lake (2)
Found in: soft drinks, candy, children’s medications, cereal, beverages, snacks, gelatin desserts, baked goods, ice cream
You can read the full article of Red40 here.
Alternate Names: Tartrazine, Y4, Coal Tar Dye
Found in: candy, soft drinks, cereal, gelatin desserts, baked goods, ice cream, pudding, snack foods, energy drinks, flavored chips, jam, yogurt, pickles, dessert powders, custard. (2)
You can read the full article of Yellow 5 & 6 here.
Report Card/Grade: “D”.
Found in: baked goods, cereals, ice cream, snacks, candies and cherries. (2)
You can read the full article of Blue here.
Report Card Grade: “F” Found in: salad dressings, cereal, pre-cooked pasta, baked foods, candied fruit, candy, yogurt. (2)
You can read the full article of Green here.
Used for coloring surfaces and casings of frankfurters and sausage. (2)
You can read the full article of Orange here.
Reported reactions to artificial dyes include:
Prevalence of Artificial Food Colors in Grocery Store Products Marketed to Children.
Artificial food colors (AFCs) in foods and beverages may be harmful to children. This study assesses the percentage of grocery store products marketed to children that contain AFCs, by category and company. The research team collected product and food-color information about 810 products in one grocery store in North Carolina in 2014. Overall, 350 products (43.2%) contained AFCs. The most common AFCs were Red 40 (29.8% of products), Blue 1 (24.2%), Yellow 5 (20.5%), and Yellow 6 (19.5%). (3)
Percentage of products with AFC’s:
- in candies (96.3%)
- fruit-flavored snacks (94%)
- drink mixes/powders (89.7%)
A study enrolled about 300 preschool and elementary school children in the United Kingdom. They were challenged with behavioral measures used by McCann et al. (2007). The study used two different mixtures: Mix A included 20 mg artificial food colorings for 3-year-old children and 24.98 mg for 8- to 9-year old children. Mix B included 30 mg for the younger children and 62.4 mg for the older children. The doses for the 3-year-old children corresponded roughly to the amounts found in 112 g of candy. Some of these measures are used in ADHD research and diagnosis, while the Southampton study was aimed more general question of behaviors evoked by food colors. Combined into a single score it was demonstrated that there were statistically a significant adverse responses in both groups of children to the food color challenge. (4)
Who would have thought that our government would condone dyes made from the same petroleum that fuels our vehicles. What is crazier yet in my mind is that most consumers don’t seem to be disturbed by it. Most consumers blindly trust the government and those scientists who falsely educate the public to line their pockets. I hope you learned something from this series as I did. Why compromise with fake beauty when real beauty is life giving? It is my hope that this series educated and influenced all of you to vote with your dollars. I truly believe that if consumers stop purchasing artificially dyed and flavored foods we can make an impact. Buy real foods to create those beautiful colors that have lasting value for you and your families health.
So what will the food of the future look like? You may already know about edible spray paint developed by a German food company, The Deli Garage. It came up with World’s First Edible Spray Paint called Food Finish, it has absolutely no taste itself and can be applied to all foods. has already manufactured an edible spray paint called Food Finish, which can be applied to any food. It comes in red, blue, gold, and silver colors.
A MENTAL EXERCISE
Eating involves more than just taste. It is a full sensory experience. Both food scientists and chefs will tell you that the smell, sound, feel, and, yes, the sight of your food are just as important as taste to fully appreciate what you eat. It is a powerful tool to help you make better choices, but it will take practice.
Beyond taste, the bigger question you should start ask yourself when deciding what to eat is…“How will eating this make me feel?” The next time you sit down to eat, before taking that first bite, pause for 20 seconds and be aware of how you feel at the present moment. Are you focused, tired, low energy, high energy, jittery? Take stock of this feeling, and then go ahead and eat your meal. Pay attention to your energy levels, your cognitive function, your anxiety levels, and your focus. And a really big one…are you sleepy? (5)
Preparing Natural Dyes
With hyperactivity in children, increased food sensitivities, and even rashes and eczema, it’s more and more important to know how to make your own homemade food coloring versus the traditional rainbow of risks using artificial dyes. If you’re making Easter eggs:
Why Add Vinegar to Egg Dye?
Most instructions for dyeing an egg say to add vinegar to the dye mixture, but why? When an egg is soaked in an acidic mixture, two things happen. First, the eggshell reacts with the acid and produces carbon dioxide gas. (That’s why bubbles form on the surface of the eggshell while it soaks.) The shell then starts to dissolve, which increases the surface area of the egg and exposes more of the egg to the dye.
There are two types of natural ingredients to make dyes:
- those that are sufficient as dyes on their own (e.g. espresso, beet juice, or wine)
- those that need to steep in water in order to create the dye (e.g. spices, onion skins, and cabbage leaves). I’ve marked the ingredients that need to be steeped first with an asterisk (*). Please visit Nourishing Joy for the asterisk (*) list.
How to make steeped dyes:
To make the steeped dyes, combine the water and colorant and bring to a boil. Boil gently for approximately 15 minutes, then cool the liquid to room temperature.
As for how much of each ingredient to use, count on 4 tablespoons of spice or 4 cups of coarsely chopped vegetables per quart of water.
- if you want to use chili powder as your colorant and you want to make 2 cups of dye, you would use 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of chili powder;
- if you want to use beets as your colorant and you want to make 1 quart of dye, you would use boil 4 cups of water with 4 cups of cubed beets.
Two cups water + two cups peeled, grated beets + vinegar (1 tablespoon per cup of liquid that remains after you simmer the grated beets and water)
2 cups yellow onion peels + enough water to cover skins by 1 inch + vinegar (1 tablespoon per cup of liquid that remains after you simmer the onion peels and water)
Two cups water + 1 tablespoon turmeric + 2 tablespoons vinegar creates this vibrant yellow on white eggs and a deep gold on brown ones. The egg to the left of the one marked “turmeric” above is an example of what a brown egg looks like.
Green / Blue
2 cups shredded purple cabbage + enough water to cover cabbage by 1 inch + vinegar (1 tablespoon per remaining cup after the dye is boiled)
To make green frosting, mix 1/2 tsp spinach juice with 2 Tbsp frosting.
1-2 cups beet kvass – as much as is needed to cover the eggs.
To make purple frosting, mix 1/4 tsp grape juice concentrate with 2 Tbsp frosting.
DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING EASTER EGG DYE:
- Bring dye matter and water to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 15-60 minutes until desired color is reached. Keep in mind that the eggs will be several shades lighter so it’s best to go for deep, rich hues.
- Remove liquid from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Pour dye through a mesh strainer into bowls/mason jars and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar for each cup of dye liquid.
- Add hardboiled eggs to dye and place in fridge until desired color is reached. I started mine in the early afternoon and let them set overnight.
Colors are so much fun, and add so much to our eating pleasure. I hope you enjoyed learning how to use real colors. Join me next time as we begin a new series on how to enhance your eating pleasure on how to Spice Up Your Life. Until next time.
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