Should the Color Cops Shut Up?

On colorings“Mom, they ran out of water, so Dad let us have grape soda pop!”

I didn’t blink an eye, hugged them all, and said WHAT a wonderful treat that was. . .

Within an hour, my husband was at the end of his parenting rope, looking at me, frustrated, as one of my daughters pummeled him and threw a verbal tirade. Before he said anything rash that he’d regret, I pulled the miniature Incredible Hulk off of him and simply said, “Red dye plus blue dye equals purple soda pop. . .”

[And wouldn’t that be a great post for another day! Knowing that your child is acting out because of the food they were fed—yet still requiring discipline—how do you balance that?]

. . .I’d like to say I walk this whole, real alternative food path out of sheer integrity, but in all honesty, I walk it because certain foods make my family uncomfortable or sick. I seek to understand why, and share what I learn with others along the way. Red 40 food dye gives my family problems. So let’s look at life after 40. . .

(I’ve written another Molly Green Magazine article! Click this link to be taken to the page, and then click on “open article” on the upper left of the “magazine” to get it big enough to read! It looks lovely with the awesome graphics. The article covers a little personal experience with food dye, historical aspects of food dyes, what research shows on food dyes, bad food dye reactions, and why some people react to food dyes and others don’t–which could involve gut bacteria for you microbiome lovers. I’ve continued with snippets below for you to get an idea of the content.)

What About Copper Pickles?

. . . Believe it or not, you’ve about always needed a science degree to meal-plan for your family. Food colorings used throughout ancient and modern history have been sketchy and often downright lethal. The food colorings we use today look mild in comparison.

First of all, why use color at all? Food coloring is 100 percent unnecessary, but the color of food is intrinsic to human attraction. Ever bite into some anticipated tangy lemon pudding, only to realize it was banana? Ever eat a green blueberry? Remember clear cola? Color speaks, and we know the ancient Egyptians and Romans relied on saffron, carrots, henna, and alum (a form of aluminum) to color their feasts.

In the Middle Ages, things darkened a bit—or, maybe I should say, lightened. . .

(Read on for more about mercury candy and lethal copper pickles . . .)

Kid with candy

Washout after a Weekend at Granny’s House

. . . Do your kids get a little grace period and washout time after a weekend with the grandparents? Mine do. Whether it’s the lack of sleep, extra sugar, or artificial food dyes, I don’t know. . .

(Read on for more about research on colorings . . .)

Blue Deaths

. . . Blue 1 caused big concerns in hospitals about twelve years ago when tube-fed patients received Blue 1-tinted liquid food formulations. Serious outcomes of death, dramatic pH changes, refractory low blood pressure, and tinted organs were noted in critically ill patients. . .

(Read on if you’d like to read more about the risks from the different colors.)

Nutrition Counts When It Comes to Colors

. . .Bacteria in our digestive tracts are exceptionally important to us. . .

(Read on to learn how gut bacteria and genes could play a role in how a person’s body deals with food dyes)

The Color Cops

. . .The good news is that the artificial color cops have put so much pressure on manufacturers that many corporations either have or will be eliminating food dyes from their food formulations. . .

So let’s keep pushing forward for our kids and families and finish what King Edward’s generation started. . .


I couldn’t sell a red Ferrari for a dollar, so you’ll notice I have no ads on my site. I’ll never invite you to a Norwex, Pampered Chef, or essential oil party (I’ll come to yours if I can, though!), but I do want to tell you that I write “for free” for Molly Green Magazine and encourage you to check out their other articles. (The photos for this blog post came from their design for my article in their magazine.) I appreciate having another platform there to share my message that we need to get back to eating and feeding our kids real food. The research is BEYOND clear. In order to get back to health, processed foods HAVE to GO.

If you haven’t cut artificial colors out of your diet, START today! It’s a great step! It’ll get rid of lots of junk right up front!


14 thoughts on “Should the Color Cops Shut Up?

  1. Bob Niland

    Actually, I find food coloring to be very convenient. It rapidly identifies a processed food-like substance that is ipso facto not suitable for human consumption.

    One doesn’t even need to figure out the euphemisms for simple sugars (“organic evaporated cane juice”), or how they’ve dithered the ingredients list to make it look like sugar isn’t #1, nor struggle to remember which oils are high in ω6 linoleic acid, whether to take a chance on the emulsifiers, what some obscure chemical name might mean, etc.

    Formulators who add food coloring either have no idea what they are doing, or know exactly. It’s hard to say which interpretation is the more troubling.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I agree. There are a couple of foods, one being jarred yellow banana pepper rings, that I really, really wish they’d cut the color out of. I can even find jarred cherries my kids can enjoy without color. But not so pickled yellow pepper rings. Peperoncini aren’t the same flavor to us.

      But in brief, there is no reason for dye. Unfortunately, they’ll switch to “natural” dyes, which will be an improvement—but still, if it needs dye so you will eat it–it indicates the freshness and nutrition is compromised and should be consumed in exceptional moderation.

      Bob, good to see you’re alive and kicking. How’s the herd, I’m wondering? Going well?


      1. Bob Niland

        re: Unfortunately, they’ll switch to “natural” dyes, which will be an improvement—but still, if it needs dye so you will eat it–it indicates the freshness and nutrition is compromised and should be consumed in exceptional moderation.

        Yeah, people need to be aware that not all things added just for color have obvious names like Dead Dye #13 (or E666 for readers in the EU). They might be things like Annatto, Beet Extract/Betanin, Butterfly pea, Caramel, Chlorophyllin, Elderberry juice, Lycopene, Carmine, Pandan, Paprika, Turmeric or Saffron.

        These also need to raise an eyebrow (but hey, the mere presence of an Ingredients list needs to do that). The “natural” colorants may be harmless (or even mildly beneficial), but the motivation to add colorant is inherently suspicious, and because some of those colorants are expensive, corner-cutting and contaminants need to be assessed.

        re: …good to see you’re alive and kicking. How’s the herd,…

        Busy. Herd is presently at 7, does back in milk, and with 4 kids (of 8 this year) about to leave for new homes.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Yes. The presence of ingredient lists and colorants needs to make a person pause and proceed with caution. I do run yellow lights, of course!, when circumstances call for it–but always with awareness.

        Wow! That’s a proliferative herd!

      3. Bob Niland

        re: Wow! That’s a proliferative herd!

        No kidding ☺
        5 of the 8 kids this year were from one doe, which is very unusual for Dwarf Nigerians. She threw 4 last year. Both were difficult deliveries, requiring a vet barn call this year. We’re disinclined to breed her again due to this egregious fecundity.

      4. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        I love your vocabulary (egregious fecundity). I wonder what literature you grew up on to develop that. I understand those terms, they just don’t pop into my head to use!

        Anyhow, what a goat!

      5. Bob Niland

        re: I wonder what literature you grew up on to develop that.

        I blame being a 1960s preppie with subclinical satirical syndrome, and occasional flareups of alliteration and irony.

        re: Anyhow, what a goat!

        Darn shame really, as she often throws polled (naturally hornless), she’s a great milker, and the herd is CAE-negative. We have no trouble finding homes for the doe kids.

  2. Christine

    Uh-oh, flash back time. You always bring up memories with your posts! Scraping #1 son off the ceiling after his dad let him have ketchup flavoured potato chips (or off the floor as he lay in a sobbing heap, poor lad). Or the “Skittles headaches” both sons got as teens before they wised up.


    I’m inclined to wonder if food additives are even more prevalent than they were ‘back in my day’. Other than in the junk food they bought with their own pocket money, I don’t remember having to deal with it all that much.

    My sympathies.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hello Today, Christine! I bring up the memories because I am the voice of every mother. (Hahaha. Wink. Not really.) 🙂

      We sure do deal with additives now in 2016. But if we can keep this food revolution growing, we can beat it! I just hope it doesn’t stop.

      Readers, don’t buy food with food dyes. And if you do, really, really analyze if you need that food. Maybe you do. There are times and places for exceptions. But don’t make exceptions the rule!

  3. myjourneythrume

    On an unrelated to kiddies note, reading your article made me think about the role of seeing colour in the food we eat and the impact it has on the experience / our senses / taste buds. And it made me think about blind people and how different their eating experience must be without colour. I remember as a child playing a food tasting game where we were blindfolded and had to guess what food we were tasting, I always loved that game but it was hard without seeing the colour. Just a random tangent that your great post sparked!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      That would be a fun game! To do with my kids or at a homeschool class (We have a little co-op where parents teach.).

      I think it makes a difference in my reaction to the maraschino cherries we get. They’re more brown than red. But to me, they taste about the same. But since I’ve had the red kind…

      Rest and grow!


      1. myjourneythrume

        It’s definitely a fun game and a good way of introducing kids to new foods too. You should definitely teach it, I think it would be a big hit.
        It’s similar to people’s aversion to ‘ugly’ veg, we definitely eat with our eyes. Enjoy your red cherries!
        I’m definitely growing! And found out the hard way tonight that not resting enough is bad…I’m shattered and my back is killing me after being on my feet most of the day. Oops. Bed time here now tho.

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