How fresh are they?
LubosHouska / Pixabay – How fresh are they?

A whole food is one in which nothing has been done to it before you eat it.  A freshly picked tomato is an example of a whole food.  That’s not the norm for most of us.  We eat processed foods.  Processing adds shelf life, nutrients, color, etc to our foods.

Over the past 50 to 100 years, whole foods have lost a lot of nutrient value because of farming and fertilizing methods.  We get more per acre, but not necessarily the same quality of nutrients that existed decades before.

With that being said though, I believe that whole food is better for you because they do not add extra chemicals

A few years ago I read an article that stated over 2600 food additives are added to our foods. Artificial colors are one group of additives. Color helps us identify freshness in most foods.  We make a decision to eat something based on many of our senses – the visual appeal is a major factor in making that selection.

Color has been added to foods for over 2000 years.  Natural coloring has been added to foods for centuries, such as saffron, alum, indigo, safflower, marigold, paprika, and others to name a few.  Even today, we still use some of them.  Natural food colors come mainly from plants.

Regulations against coloring foods didn’t come into vogue until the 1800s.  In 1906, The United States Food and Drug Act restricted the volume of over 80 synthetic food colors to only seven – those that could be tested as safe.  In 1938 the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act approved 15 dyes and assigned color numbers instead of their common names (i.e., amaranth is Red Dye #2).

New laws have come out in the 60s, 70s, and 90s to protect us from additives that could cause us harm – cancer prevention being the primary objective.  Ironically, the term ‘natural food color’ has never been legally defined.

Today the primary artificial colors used are:  Blue Dye #1 (bright blue dye used in beverages, dairy products, icings, syrups, etc.); Blue Dye #2 (royal blue food dye used in cereals, snacks, sherbets, etc.); Green Dye#3 (sea green dye used in puddings, ice cream, cherries, dairy products, etc.); Red Dye #40 (orange-red dye used in gelatins, puddings, beverages, condiments, etc.); Red Dye #3 (cherry-red dye used in fruit cocktail, baked goods, snack foods, etc.); Yellow Dye #5 (lemon-yellow dye used in custards, beverages, ice cream, preserves, etc.); and, Yellow Dye #6 (orange dye used in cereals, dessert powders, ice cream, etc.).

Are artificial food colorings safe?  The Food and Drug Administration says yes – they have certified them safe for use.  But, like a lot of things in our environment, some people are allergic to things that the majority of us are not.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says that artificial food colorings are not safe and want them banned.

The Feingold Diet, made popular in the 70s by Dr. Ben Feingold, eliminated a number of artificial ingredients from children’s’ diets, including artificial coloring.  Subsequent studies have shown no links between food coloring and behavioral problems, such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).  Nonetheless, as technology marches forwarded newer testing suggests that they might cause behavioral problems.  The results are still out.

If artificial food colorings are safe, do I really need them?  You don’t really have a choice – that choice has been the realm of the food manufacturers.  Obviously, you can choose to select those foods with or without artificial food colorings added.

Food manufacturers have voluntarily removed a large majority of artificial colors in favor of more natural colorings.  Big companies may choose to use natural food colors in one country and artificial food colors in another country.  The bottom line is that food looks better with color added in many cases.

The Food and Drug Administration says artificial colors are safe. I have my doubts. I recommend reading labels – I read lots of food labels, as well as labels on many other products – something I’ve done for years.  You have a choice – you can avoid anything with artificial colors and select products with natural colors added.

But, beware of the ‘other ingredients’ that are not specified.  If it really looks colorful, it probably didn’t come that way form nature, unless it was picked and sent straight to the store – and, even then you can’t be sure.  I would be on the watch for any changes in behavior or health –allergic reactions, fatigue, rashes, headaches, asthma, hyperactivity, etc.

Read labels. Be aware of what you choose to eat. When in doubt, don’t buy it or eat it.


One Response

  1. Unfortunately, these days many of our whole foods are not exactly their natural colour, either. Most tomatoes, for example, are picked green. They are ripened artificially before they are shipped to the grocery store. In other cases, wax may be applied to a fruit such as an apple, in order to protect the skin. But this also changes the apple’s appearance.

    The best way to get whole foods into your diet is to buy from your local farmers market or grow fruits and vegetables in your garden.

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