What's Wrong with Kids Today? Maybe ADHD, Asthma, Allergies and Other Illnesses, are Aggravated or Caused by the Artificial Food Additives We Put Into Our Shopping Carts and Kids' Mouths!

Do you know much about the artificial food additives you are tossing into your shopping cart and into your kids' mouths?  Well I have been slowly trying to learn about them and the more I find out, the more I try to eliminate them from my family's diet.  Listen, I am not perfect and I certainly have my struggles with unhealthy habits, but I refuse to let a few unhealthy habits stand as an excuse for me to give up and let it all go to hell.  We have to take time to green ourselves and our families.  I have said it before and I will say it again, going green is about the health of our planet as well as our health!  Want to live green?  It is not hard, it just requires being open to learning new things like where many artificial additives come from and acting on what you learn. 

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.

Look food additives are not new.  Artificial colors have been around for more than 100 years and kids have been eating them for decades.  But let's take a look at how much more of them are ending up in our shopping carts that we are allowing our kids to consume than say 60 years ago.

  Back then . . . most children ate these additives infrequently. They got an occasional lollipop from the bank or barber shop. Cotton candy was found at the circus. Jelly beans were given at Easter, orange cupcakes at Halloween and candy canes at Christmas.
    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 

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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead