Sunday, December 2, 2012

Give Artificial Dyes The Boot for Christmas

Artificial food dyes are derived from petroleum. Yuck. Red dye 40 is made from crushed beetles. Double yuck. Food dyes have been linked to hyperactivity in children, and yes, once again, to cancer. The FDA even lists Red 3 as a known carcinogen but has made no move to ban it from our food supply. In Europe, a warning label is required to be placed on all foods containing artificial dyes. (It's not just in Fruity your ingredient labels. You might be surprised to find dye in all sorts of savory foods as well!)

From the website of Dr. Mercola:

“This is why if you eat a Nutri-Grain strawberry cereal bar in the United States, it will contain Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1. But that same bar in the UK contains only the natural colorings beetroot red, annatto and paprika extract. In fact, the UK branches of Wal-Mart, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Mars have removed artificial colors, sodium benzoate and aspartame from their product lines as a result of consumer demand and government recommendations. In the United States, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to allow these toxic ingredients in countless popular foods, including those marketed directly to children.”-Source

It's hard to connect something as innocent looking as a Christmas cookie with poison but that's what it boils down to. Making and decorating sugar cookies with the little bottles of food dye has been a family tradition of ours for as long as I've been alive. Actually we used food dye all the time. I can remember my mom dumping loads of that stuff into our food...yellow to make our homemade egg noodles brighter, green and red mashed potatoes on Christmas, and everything we ate on Saint Patrick's day glowed a sickly green.

This year marks a new beginning. Christmas cookies safe for my baby to eat. It feels like a tall order and to be honest, I'm pretty nervous about it. I know I can please her little pallet and eyes but what about the rest of the family? Bucking the way we have been doing things for at least 30 years and doing so at the most special time of the year feels almost sacrilegious. What's the worst that could happen? Well, I can't think of much that would be worse than seeing my little girl chowing down on some crushed bug petroleum cancer cookies, so I guess whatever alternative we come up with will be just fine.

So what are our other options? The rich among us can simply shell out more money (and I mean a lot more) for natural stuff such as Williams Sonoma Sprinkles and India Tree Natural Food Coloring.

The rest of us poor schmucks will be slaving away in the kitchen as usual, making our colors from scratch. I haven't decided yet if I'm just going to do the fruit syrups like I did with Evie's birthday cake icing or actually try to make concentrated dye yet. I will, of course, post the results of our grand experiment. I don't know about you, but I feel a Christmas miracle coming!

Concentrated Dyes
Fruit Syrups
Homemade Sprinkles
Organic Dyes

This is a great video about making your own dyes. It's a little hard to watch because the camera is jiggly, it made me a little car sick, but it was worth it. I tried to go to the Crunchy Housewife site to see the written directions, but for some reason the page wouldn't load. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.

Please let me know how it works out for you if you try any of these natural dyes!