According to The Center for Science in the Public Interest, food dyes were originally derived from coal tar, but now they are derived from petroleum. Dye is contained in everything from popsicles to jello, to fruit loops, to sports drinks.
If you continuously eat or serve your child food that is not really food, then the child will come to expect that to be normal. If you eat dessert on special occasions such as a birthday or holiday, then the child will come to recognize that desserts are a treat that they receive on a special occasion and not something they should expect every day, or even once a week.
For me personally, I face a challenge every week because the school my children attend serves “non-food” items such as “fruit-by-the-foot” and pop-tarts. In fact, they even promote “ice cream day” once a week. I recognize that every family has different values, and while some might feel that children should receive ice cream once a week in school, or eat “fruit-by-the-foot” and pop-tarts, my view is very different.
This is a list of what is contained in one serving of strawberry flavoring:
cognac essential oil,
ethyl amyl ketone,
hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol),
lemon essential oil,
methyl heptine carbonate,
methyl naphthyl ketone,
mint essential oil,
neroli essential oil,
So, as you can see, there are no real strawberries contained in that “Strawberry fruit-by-the-foot” or those “Strawberry pop-tarts” no real FOOD for that matter. A pop-tart has 12 sugars, 35 chemicals beyond the 40 that are included in the strawberry flavoring, 3 trans fats, and 18 other ingredients (meaning, processed white flower and far too much salt). It has 160 different ingredients, none of which are a whole food. So for a child’s developing digestive system, would you want them eating all these chemicals in just this one “foodlike” item?
I believe that one way to help combat the childhood obesity epidemic in our country is to start at the very core, where our children spend the most time during their waking hours…in our schools. Children are especially susceptible to peer pressure in the primary years, where they begin to recognize that other students, other families may not eat the same things as they do. When I attend an event and the snack bar only offers choices of hot-dogs, candy, soda, and artificial fruit roll ups for sale instead of healthier options, what does that teach our children? I feel as if that type of behavior undermines what many parents are trying to teach their children at home about proper nutrition. It’s a vicious cycle, and it is the parents who actually care about what their children eat that are left feeling alone in the fight against these artificial, processed foods that are being offered.
The food industry reports that over 15 million pounds of these dyes make it into our food supply each year. These food dyes carry some profound risks, including behavioral problems in children, cancer in children and adults, and other known carcinogens which can cause serious allergic reactions in some people.
For a chart with more on the dangers of food dye, click here.
When is our nation going to stand up for our children?
The answer is, true healthcare reform doesn’t start in Washington, it starts in your own kitchen.