Happy 14th of February!
Sorry I do not have a scrumptious chocolate or cookie recipe for this blog. Aside from not really being a “baker”, when I do manage to get enough doughy, sugary goodness from the bowl to a pan in order to fully cook it, it usually just ends up in my tummy anyways. So needless to say I try to stay away from baking and stick to what I know…cooking.
However, I would to take this opportunity (and when I say “opportunity ” I mean a captive audience that thinks there is a huge pile of sugar at the end of this blog:) to highlight something that I am seeing every time I walk into a drug store/grocery store at this time of the year, and that is RED food products. I see RED RED RED and then I see RED.
It’s important that we stop and recognize that the marketing around this particular holiday has done an amazing job at turning our regular everyday candy into something that looks even more appealing to us and our children, just because it is red.
I know there are many contradictions out there around food that can make you want to throw your hands up and give up trying to make any sense of it. But I think most of us can agree that through the unforgiving test of time, medical research and just general common sense, there are a handful of things that we should just avoid completely. My list would look something like this (in no particular order):
Aspartame, hydrogenated oils, cigarettes, stress (when possible) and red food dye!
Artificial colours are chemicals synthesized from petroleum and coal-tar products (1). Many of these chemicals have been incorporated into foods with insufficient research as to safety, and some have been withdrawn because of studies showing toxicity or carcinogenicity.
Here’s the low down on the main types of artificial red colouring agents out there…
Citrus Red No.2
This dye was withdrawn in 1976, except it is still allowed to be used in colouring oranges to establish a brighter and more uniform colour. It has been shown to cause cancer in animal testing research. To avoid this, use organic oranges when adding grated orange peel in a recipe.
Red No.3 (aka Erythrosin)
This dye is used in cherries, cherry pie, gelatine, ice cream, fruit cocktails, candy, sherbet, pudding, cereals, fruit roll-ups and baked goods. It is on the safe list, but research has suggested that this coal-tar derivative is harmful, possibly causing gene mutations, cancers or changes in brain chemistry. A 1983 review committee found convincing evidence that Red 3 caused thyroid tumors in rats and the FDA suggested banning it; it was not banned.
Red No.40 (aka Allura Red AC)
This dye took the place of banned Red No.2 and is used in food, drugs and cosmetics. Specific food uses include gelatine, puddings, soft drinks, condiments, dairy products and candy. It may cause cancer in animals.
Effects on Children
According to Nancy Cordes, consumer safety correspondent for CBS News, artificial food coloring like Red 40 and Blue 2 contribute to restlessness, hyperactivity, and attention problems in some children. The children at the highest risk for these effects are those with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Also, eliminating food coloring from the diet of children with ADHD is approximately 25 to 50 percent as effective in decreasing symptoms as prescribing prescription medication such as Ritalin, notes Cordes.
If you would like more information on ADHD children and food additives click on the link below to read more;
If you are doing your own baking this year there are some great natural choices for food colourings including carotene, annatto, beet red (powdered beets), saffron, turmeric, paprika, and grapes, as well as vegetable and fruit juices.
Or maybe just stick with the classics…sweet & delicious c.h.o.c.o.l.a.t.e.
We have choices always. This year lets not inadvertently torture our children, our children’s teachers, our children friends or ourselves for that matter! Check the list of ingredients on the package before you buy and make choices that actually show LOVE to our bodies.
Happy Valentine’s Day xo
And oh, I almost forgot ;-)….
(1) Staying Healthy With Nutrition – The Complete Guide To Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition (Elson M. Haas, MD & Buck Levin, PhD, RD) p. 447-448.