By Shana Daniel, R.H.N
Have you noticed lately that your standard cold beverage order at the coffee shop window or your child’s favourite candy may have taken on a different hue.
Some packaged foods may taste different, as you find yourself urging your taste buds to uncover the missing or added ingredient which wasn’t there before.
Additives and preservatives are pretty much the same when used in the context of how a food maintains its stability until consumption time.
Over the last decade, consumers have become more familiar with knowledge of how certain food dyes affect behaviour and body systems, especially in children.
As a result, manufacturers are stretching themselves in finding alternatives to appease our worries in hoping our financial contribution will seem worthy in response. Soon obliterated are the common colours like Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue), Blue No. 2 (Indigo Carmine), Citrus Red No. 2, Green No. 3 (Fast Green), Red No. 3 (Erythrosine), Red No. 40 (Allura Red), Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine) and Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow).
With clever marketing like “mystery flavour” on a box enrobing a sweet non-coloured candy inside, I find it all a brilliant way to broadcast dye-free options. Remember though there’s still the flavour component which has to be added so that the senses aren’t entirely confused once your little one guesses the colour it should be.
Naturally coloured products gracing store shelves today may include colours of the rainbow extracted naturally from beet, turmeric, spirulina, black carrot, annatto, cochineal (you can google that one), cacao, squid ink and more.
You’ll notice juice boxes are gloriously containing “juice only” with no added sugar, some even advertising as being more diluted with water to entice those wanting less sweet options for kids.
Preservatives are next. Let’s talk about celery extract. There are some vegetables which contain naturally occurring nitrites – why not make use of these to naturally preserve foods if needed.
Cultured celery extract is a natural source of nitrites and meat products that contain this substance have as much – and in some cases more – nitrites than the processed meats that list sodium nitrite on their labels. Nitrates are naturally occurring substances that can be found in many vegetables, like beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, radishes and spinach.
Additionally, with the compounding research on display in most literature today regarding artificial sweeteners, it’s fair to say STAY AWAY.
Between honey, pure maple syrup, raw sugar and other naturally derived sweet options, there’s simply no reason to gravitate to the fakers anymore. If blood sugar is an issue, know how to choose natural options wisely and work with your nutritionist in guiding appropriately so that fake food options are no more.
The takeaway? Know your ingredients and experiment along the way. Sometimes what isn’t in your food is better than what is.