Have you looked in a student’s lunch box lately?

Talk about colorful!  But not the colors of lush fresh vegetables and fruits, but rather the advertising  colors, the unreal reds, blues and greens of dyes and other enhancers. The food dyes including Yellow 5, Red 40, and six others, are made from petroleum.  Research is showing that many can cause allergies  hyperactivity and some animal studies are showing a cancer connection.  The European Union and the Brits are making inroads by outlawing most dyes from the food that we are ingesting.  An example of substitution is, beet root for food coloring versus Red 40 which contains petroleum.  My question is why aren’t we doing this in America? These dyes are in everything from soft drinks to potato chips. Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6 make up 90% of the food dyes on the market. There is no nutritional value but companies that are trying to appeal to kids believe that the coloring makes food more fun! That makes me laugh because fun and food for me as a kid was my dad breaking off a piece of rhubarb in the garden, which I dipped in sugar and ate with pursed lips, enjoying the sour, sweet taste was and continues to be an early summer ritual! My grandpa and I would gather food in the garden and although I’m allergic to legumes I could eat raw peas when I was young and they were right out of the pod!  And they weren’t neon green! ha!  The FDA has met and don’t believe the research is solid enough to claim that hyperactivity in kids is a result of the dyes. I’d love for them to take their lunch breaks in a school cafeteria or come to an afternoon circle reading group after lunch!  It seems to me that with all the chatter about obesity and lunch programs,  the artificial dye issues could be tied into the re-vamping of America’s lunch programs.  I applaud schools that provide healthy snacks and lunches at school. It takes more effort than throwing pre-packaged candy, fruit leather, chips, neon pink yogurt and cookies into a lunch box. They know the benefits of a calmer classroom and I’m sure they are reaping them without Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6 etc.!  What an interesting research study that would be, lunch food and it’s relationship to academic attention and focus….hmmmm!

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