I really like to cook, but sometimes, things get hectic and I have to rely on convenience foods. A busy morning sometimes means that we have to put a couple of Eggo waffles in the toaster on the way out of the door. While I don’t like it, food is needed, so we just dealt with it.
Those mornings are a treat for our oldest daughter who loves Eggo waffles, specifically the blueberry ones. Since we decided to remove foods from our diets that include artificial colors, we would have to do the opposite of their catchy slogan and let go of our Eggos.
When I wrote to Kellogg’s to ask why they included artificial coloring in all of their waffles, even the plain ones, here was their response:
“Currently, some of our products use added colors to enhance their visual characteristics. Studies have shown that appearance is an important factor in the overall appeal of food. We use only approved colors in the smallest amount needed to achieve the desired appearance. These are always listed in the ingredient statement so that you can make choices appropriate for you or your family. We will continue to follow the scientific discussion and consumer preference on the topic of food colorings.”
So…the way food looks is more important than how nutritious it is? Is it that important for the blueberries to look bluer or the strawberries to look redder? Reality is, we would all be much healthier and have a lot more money in our pockets if we weren't so worried about what food looked like. How many times have you gone to your produce section and skipped over an apple because you didn't like the way it looked? Do you know how much food is wasted because it looks deformed or bruised? When you buy one apple, you’re paying for it and the two thrown away because they were deemed unsellable when it is just as good as the apple you chose to take home.
The fact is, processed food would be very bland looking if artificial colors weren't used. Would kids think it is exciting to eat slightly yellow Cheetos or gray M & Ms? Probably not, so we continue to keep buying colorful, nutritionally void, food. While the Food and Drug Administration sanctions certain colors for use in food, the ingredients listed on the side of the box don’t tell you where those colors came from or how they were made. You’ll only see, “Red #40,” “Yellow #5,” or “Blue #1.” These artificial colors are also in shampoo, toothpaste, hand soap, medicine, and a host of other items we all use on a daily basis. We come in contact with them frequently and do not have the slightest idea of their origins.
We’ll talk later about some of the research, side effects and origins of artificial colors. While we’re in Walt Disney World this week, pay closer attention to the labels of things you eat and put on your skin and in your hair. Challenge yourself to avoid those items for a day or two. You’d be surprised how reliant we've become on something that isn't even real or good for you.