Did you know that the brand of ice cream, cookie, and potato chip you select could have a direct effect on the behavior, health, and ability to learn for you or your children? Numerous studies show that certain synthetic food additives can have serious learning, behavior, and/or health effects for sensitive people. Look I know how hard it is to say no to your kids begging and pleading for oatmeal with colored dinosaur eggs and Fruity Pebbles, but it goes beyond saying "no" to the obvious crap that is on our grocer's shelves. We must explain to our kids why it is important to take natural vitamins free of artificial colors and additives as opposed to Flinstones artificial vitamins. But exactly what should you tell your kids about artificial additives?
Tell your kids where food dyes come from:
- Those pretty colors that make the "fruit punch" red, the gelatin green and the oatmeal blue are made from petroleum (crude oil) which is also the source for gasoline
- You will find them on the ingredient labels, listed as "Yellow No. 5," "Red 40," "Blue #1," etc. The label may say "FD&C" before the number. That means "Food, Drug & Cosmetics." When you see a number listed as "D&C" in a product, such as "D&C Red #33" it means that this coloring is considered safe for medicine (drugs) and cosmetics, but not for food. See research on artificial food dyes and kids' health.
Tell your kids what artificial flavorings are:
- They are combinations of many chemicals, both natural and synthetic. An artificial flavoring may be composed of hundreds of separate chemicals, and there is no restriction on what a company can use to flavor food.
- One source for imitation vanilla flavoring (called "vanillin") is the waste product of paper mills. Some companies built factories next to the pulp mills to turn the undesirable by-product into imitation flavoring, widely used in many cookies, candies and other foods. See research on artificial food flavorings and kids' health..
Tell your kids why you need to eliminate BHA, BHT and TBHQ:
- Those initials stand for three major preservatives found in many foods, especially in the United States. Like the dyes, they are made from petroleum (crude oil). Often, they are not listed in the ingredients.
- These chemicals may be listed as "anti-oxidants" because they prevent the fats in foods from "oxidizing" or becoming rancid (spoiling). There are many natural, beneficial anti-oxidants, but thy are much more expensive than the synthetic versions.
- There are other undesirable food additives (MSG, sodium benzoate, nitrites, sulfites, to name a few) but most of the additives used in foods have not been found to be as big a problem as those listed above. See research on these additives effects on kids' health.
Today . . . the typical child growing up in the United States is exposed to these powerful chemicals all day, every day.
Take time to explore these artificial food additives further and pat yourself on the back every time you toss whole foods and organic snacks and drinks into your shopping cart and kids' mouths. Our kids are counting on us. I may not be perfect, but I will try my hardest to not let my kids down...how about you?
P.S.- I am really glad that you stopped by our Environmental Booty Blog and I hope you have learned or shared a thing or two. I hope that , now that you've found us, you won't lose us! You can join our green living online community, subscribe to our posts, download our community toolbar, Tweet with me on Twitter or Come Shop with Me to stay in touch! - Shane :)
*pictures and chart from Feingold.org