Gray Popsicles & Other Strange Notions

Gray Food
The recent publicity about the Food and Drug Administration hearings on food dye and ADHD has created great awareness of the harm those chemicals can cause. But it has also spawned some odd notions.

Food additive industry supporters warn that without petroleum-based neon dyes, our food will be gray! We can expect this sort of nonsense from the factory food industry but these comments are also coming from people who know better.

Colorful Natural Treats
Of course, real food is not gray; Mother Nature has seen to that! And what about processed food? Aside from liverwurst I can’t think of any gray food. My pantry has processed foods of all type that are beautiful colors. The natural Cheetos are a lovely shade of light yellow and the natural Tostitos are a bit darker, evidence of their organic corn. An even more vibrant color is the Trader Joe’s Orange Cream Soda which could be mistaken for the dyed Fanta, except that its rich hue comes from beta carotene. Next to it on the shelf is Trader Joe’s French Berry Lemonade, a beautiful pink sparkling beverage that uses grape skin extract to punch up the color.

The candy treats aren’t gray either. Surf Sweets jelly beans and gummies are colorful, and Yummy Earth Lollipops with their bright colors and bright tastes have won over adults as well as the kids. Some candies are so intensely colored, you may want to check the ingredient label more than once.

The two moms, who created Candies That Care, have found a way to put the best of nature into vividly colored hard candy and lollipops, and the Natural Candy Store offers beautiful swirled colors in their lollipops.

If your travels take you to Europe, you will find that most of the synthetic dyes have been replaced with natural ones, because the European Union requires food companies to put warning labels on those products that contain the dyes.

No food manufacturer wants to do this! Import stores like World Market carry candies like these, and some supermarkets offer them in their international section.

In addition to natural ice cream, my freezer is stocked with popsicles made with beautiful real berries, so they have no need for fake colorings.

Cake decorators have not been left out of the natural yummy market! Fruits, vegetables and minerals are the source of colors offered by companies such as India Tree. And you can make your own pink frosting by using the juice from beets in place of liquid in your homemade frosting. For darker shades, microwave or boil the liquid from canned beets to concentrate it. You probably won’t taste the beets, but you can always add a bit of natural vanilla or fruit flavored extract if you wish.

Chefs and homemakers have been using nature’s palette long before petrochemical dyes came on the market. On family farms carrots were pureed and added to butter during the winter months when the cows ate grain and the butter was a pale color. Many things were different back then, including the lack of hyperactive kids!


A big nonna hug to today’s guest blogger Jane Hersey:

Jane Hersey is the national director of the Feingold Association of the US.

She is the author of Why Can’t My Child Behave? and Healthier Food for Busy People.

For more information on why your child is hyperactive see

6 thoughts on “Gray Popsicles & Other Strange Notions

  1. Karen says:

    The natural colours of homemade food are more appetising than those bright sickly colours that they put into commercial food. And I still can’t understand why they need to put colours into dog food!

  2. Siena says:

    My guess is the industry isn’t aware of much beyond there sheltered walls.
    BUT if you are looking for color in baking and treats you can get India Tree food color which is all cabbage, beet juice and curcumin. They even have a line of sugar sprinkles with the natural food colorants. We don’t eat high fuctose in our food which illuminates most treats, but we have found Yummy Earth lollipops to be a great little treat..
    Thank you for your great work!!

  3. Llana says:

    I have loved the Feingold Association’s Jane Hersey for DECADES! It’s so nice to read her words here and also see a photo of her. If she says it, it’s the absolute truth. And another person who knows whereof she speaks is Feingold’s inimitable Shula Edelkind. Good article at a great site.

  4. Kathy Bernard, MS RD CDN says:

    Thank you Jayne for this posting. Terrific. Yes, we need to go natural with our foods. It is such a shame that the food companies add food dyes to so many things. Consumers and nutritional professionals like myselft need to weed out everything thing to make sure we are not getting artificial foods colorings in the foods we eat. Thank goodness we have Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Wild By Nature to ease some of the purchasing process.

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