Winners And Losers Of Food Coloring: June 2012
This monthly feature will appear here on the blog every third Thursday. It’s a list of people, companies, and even countries who deserve a shout-out for either their good deeds or their ridiculous antics. I list what catches my eye when I find it, so some of these may be old news. Check out my very first Winners and Losers list for May. I’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it.
Bloggers: The web was full of great reads this month about food additives by Stir It Up, Feed Our Families, Mommy Om, Feed Them Food, Everyday Randomness, The Hungry Guinea Pig, Heather Richmond, and a 9-year old Martha Payne who photographs & rates her school’s lunches in her own blog. Check out this piece in Agri Pulse about how bloggers influence agriculture policy.
Bloggers, you ARE being heard. Proof: The International Association of Color Manufacturers will feature a whole session at their 2012 conference entitled “The Impact Of Mommy Bloggers On Color Additive Use“. Finding that little gem on the web this morning was the highlight of my day. They’re seeing the writing on the (Facebook) wall, and they can either adapt, or be left behind. We wield the power to make changes in our food system, and they know it. Keep up the food fight!
Nick The Chemist: This organic chemist was formerly a Monsanto researcher and is now working in the pharmaceutical industry. But there’s more to Nick than that – he also writes about his thoughts on needless chemical additives in our foods. Check out his Dye Diet site for some good reads.
Denise Austin: That mini powerhouse that kicked my butt back into shape after I had my child, is speaking out about the affects of food dyes. I’m giddy with excitement to see this issue going mainstream. And, now I’m thirsty for some water with a purpose…
Candy Industry: When I found this piece published on a Candy Industry site, I expected to read another PR spiel aimed at lobbyists and manufacturers about how necessary synthetic colors are in the food industry. I was pleasantly surprised by their upfront approach and lack of B.S.
Sensus/CIFT: It seems that some manufacturers and small businesses are responding to consumer needs as well. The Sensus Corporation and the Center For Innovative Food Technology are teaming up to make a natural food colorant made of…food. I love the fact that they are purposefully preparing for a future without synthetic petroleum food coloring in it.
Unreal Candy: Don’t let the name fool you. I love start ups and entrepreneurs – when they get it right. I was thrilled to hear from one reader about this new “unjunked” line of candies launched right here in the US. The Wall Street Journal recently gave a peek into what it took Unreal Candy and its teenaged founder to get natural sweets into American stores. I’m happy to report that you will be able to find Unreal products in major retail chains this summer and fall, in time for summer parties, school events, and Halloween.
Small bakeries: I’m also tipping my hat to all those awesome little bakeries popping up that are happy to provide cupcakes and birthday cakes for people with special diets such as vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and dye-free. They’re listening to their customers, which makes me believe wholeheartedly that they’ll survive the recession, no prob. With more allergies cropping up in kids these days, it makes sense that sweet shops should adapt, or they’ll go by the wayside.
Centerplate concessions: One reader shared that she had a surprisingly good experience with a concession stand at a large venue, thanks to Centerplate “SnackSmart” options. Clif bars, Funky Monkey fruits, and Hail Merry almonds are some of the offerings. It’s not perfection but it’s a step in the right direction…Word. Offering consumers more healthy choices is a great strategy.
The Walt Disney Company: The happiest place on Earth just got a little happier for parents. This media giant is changing the way food is marketed to kids by only advertising brands that meet their nutritional standards on TV, radio, and online. This means they’ll lose some of their advertising revenue from manufacturers hawking sugary junk. Yet they don’t seem too concerned. They know they are influencers, too: “The Better Business Bureau and 16 major food companies, including Coca-Cola Co., Burger King Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Mars Inc. have also pledged to ensure by 2014 that ads aimed at children are devoted only to better-for-you foods.”
Not only are their theme park chefs very accommodating to special dietary requests, but now Disney is trying to offer healthier options in stores, online, in theme parks, and at resorts.
Maggie’s Naturals: The same family that brought us Eco-Kids natural art supplies is now in the food coloring game. Their gluten-free, organic, all natural liquid food coloring comes in six colors. Their tagline is “Know your food, know your ingredients.” Hooray for small business!
Hospitals and pharmacies are now bragging that they ditched harmful dyes in their plastic supplies. Dignity Health switched to dye-free plastic in May, to stop pigments from leaching into soil and groundwater. Here’s the thing – Many hospitals and pharmacies are still administering petroleum dyed medications directly into the very people they are supposed to be healing. And they don’t always offer dye-free versions in-house. I think patients should rank above the soil on the list of a hospital’s immediate priorities. What you can do: If you cannot get dye-free medications at your local hospital, insist on bringing in your own, and find a compounding pharmacy to fill your prescriptions without additives. And then complain to the hospital administrator.
The American Chemistry Council – Don’t let the nice name fool you – these are lobbyists in chemist’s clothing that say a little chemical is just fine. Better living through chemistry and all that. They’ve got their fingers in many synthetic pies, such as the flame retardant peanut butter fiasco. I don’t buy what they’re selling. It’s like Nutella trying to fool us into thinking their chocolatey spread is wholesome, while using paper mill byproducts to flavor the stuff (“vanillin” is synthetic vanilla flavoring). Follow the money trail and question everything (and make your own hazelnut chocolate spread).
Pet Painters: During my web research, I often find waaaay too many stories and questions about dying pets with food coloring or Kool-Aid for my comfort. These dog-dippers, bunny-befoulers, and baby chick-tainters creep me out. All I can hope is that one day, Fluffy will have enough of the red dye and get his revenge.
Pot Perverters: Will someone please just answer me this…WHY would one need to dye their marijuana? Talk about drug abuse. By the way, I want you to know that I found this funny exchange totally by accident. I don’t hang out in pot forums, dude. I blame Google Alerts…he’s always going on and on about stuff he thinks is so funny.
Brrrger: Not so much a typo as a cold mess. This is a Carls Jr. ice cream sandwich, heavily dyed to resemble a hamburger. I get that same gag vibe from these as I do the deeply dyed rainbow cakes on Pinterest.
Nixie Tubes: Kinda like Fun Dip for grownups. These colored powder caffeine tubes make my eyelids twitch just looking at them.
Blue Entrees: No. Please, just, no. Maybe the fellas in the pot forums would eat this, but I doubt it. It doesn’t look so good going down, and I can only imagine what it looks like coming back up. Or…err…out. Duuude.
King Of Pops: I recently found out that my favorite local popsicle purveyor, who claims to source their all natural ingredients locally, was using Kroger brand vanilla wafers in their homemade Banana Puddin’ paletas. When I asked them about this, they responded quickly saying they’d be sourcing some all natural replacements right away. The reason I placed them in the Honorable Mention category is because, even though their initial ingredient poses big problems for their public relations, they are responding to what their customers truly want. I’m sure they aren’t purposely trying to use false advertisement, and this was probably just an oversight. After all, they want to be able to sell their treats in natural grocery stores like Whole Foods.
Check back next month for another installment of Winners And Losers Of Food Coloring!