In On the Road, author Jack Kerouac wrote, “Here’s to the crazy ones; the misfits; the rebels; the trouble-makers; the round pegs in the square holes; the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
I stumbled across this quote the other day (while I was doing something super important on the Internet, I’m sure), and it rang so true. As many of you know, my children are on a strictly artificial food dye-free diet. This means absolutely no colors followed by a number on a food label come in our house or their bodies. No Red 40. No Blue 1. No Yellow 5. Not even one tiny Skittle. Why? Because these chemical ingredients are not food at all; they are petrochemicals and coal tar. Sound delicious? I didn’t think so. Not only do these chemicals not affect the taste of food at all, they are linked to behavior problems, cancer, migraines, eczema, asthma symptoms, dementia and more. You can read more about our food dye free life here and here.
Lately, I’ve been accused of being a nutjob. I’ve been accused of trying to rip happy childhoods out of local children’s hearts because I encourage naturally colored frosting on a cupcake. I’ve had eyes rolled in my direction. I’ve heard whispers behind my back. I’ve been told I’m causing trouble. But am I crazy enough to think I can change the world? Not quite.
I’m crazy enough to think that I can help a few families here and there who are wondering why their 3-year-olds are having three-hour long tantrums. “Try eliminating food dye.” I’m crazy enough to think I can provide a helping hand to someone whose 6-year-old can’t write a single letter of the alphabet. “Try eliminating food dye.”
I’m crazy enough to think that if I tell one mom and she tells another and she tells another that together we can change the world. We can toss out our fake green pickles and our neon pink fruit gummies in exchange for healthier, more real food. We can change our children’s futures one cluttered pantry at a time. (And as a bonus, we might find a missing sock or long lost bouncy ball. That’s not just me, right?)
Indeed, I have no respect for the status quo. I do not believe our kids should ingest chemicals “just because” they’re sold on the grocery store shelves. I believe that once we know better, we must do better.
Here are some resources to help your family get started down the road to artificial dye-free living:
- List of chemical food additives to avoid.
- Video: Food dyes suspected of causing behavioral problems in kids.
- Scientific studies on the dangers of food dyes (courtesy of the Feingold Association of the United States).
- Our favorite online natural candy stores: Natural Candy Store, Indie Candy, The Squirrel’s Nest
What else do you want to know about synthetic food dyes? Have you tried reducing or eliminating dyes? What positive changes have you seen for your families? Have you met with pushback from others? Let us know here in the comments section or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor Brooke Bernard is a mother of two food dye-free kids who is embracing her role as “that mom.” Because really, what choice does she have?