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Mmmm….the color of Red

on March 30, 2012

This kind of natural is a little too close to nature, in my opinion. It has been discovered recently that the coolest hipster-crunchy-vegan hangout in America (aka Starbucks) puts beetle guts in their Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino. Well, I guess it’s not technically beetle guts. It’s actually cochineal, which is really the whole beetle. (Mmm…delicious!) Cochineal beetles (scientific name, Dactylopius coccus) were used by the Aztecs and Mexican Indians to make beautiful red dyes. They put the beetles in hot water to kill them and dissolve the waxy coding found on the females and then dried them in the sun. When the bugs were finished drying, they would grind the carcasses into a powder, which would then be made into the red dye.

Obviously, we still use cochineal for dye. But we don’t only put it in food. We also use them for everything from shampoo, cosmetics, and clothing. And to be fair, Starbucks is not the only monster food company to use it either. Cochineal is also found in the one and only Strawberry Pop Tart.

You ask: Isn’t there any other way for my food to get the same delicious flavor of red without making beetles a part of my diet?! Why, yes! You’re in luck! Instead of putting cochineal into their products, some companies opt for the ever-so-yummy Red #40. This has no bugs in it whatsoever. That’s right! No bugs! Here’s the kicker though. Red #40 is made from coal.

So if you’re looking for saving the planet by discontinuing coal use or you’re looking to be vegetarian or vegan and not eat insects, maybe you should steer clear from red completely. Maybe you should pick a new favorite food color. Or maybe go natural for real and eat a red apple or a red radish. Starbucks might not be straightforward with their ingredients list, but it doesn’t get any more real than with foods from Mother Nature’s garden.

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One response to “Mmmm….the color of Red

  1. Sheri Snyder says:

    Very interesting! I’m learning a lot from these. There will be a nice bowl of radishes waiting for you at home. ❤

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