Have you ever wondered why companies use artificial colors? You might think it's because they want to make their food look good, but there's another reason -- a far deeper reason -- why companies use artificial colors to make their foods more appealing to consumers. Keep reading to learn what that is.
Why do foods with more vibrant, saturated colors look more appealing to consumers? Why does a bright-red apple look more appealing than a dull-red apple or a green apple? Why are foods sold to us in neon green, yellow and orange packages? The reason is that of the color of food speaks to humans' innate perceptions about the value of food items.
Humans are born with brains that are preprogrammed with the ability to learn language; or to recognize certain inherent dangers such as falling off a ledge. We also have all kinds of behaviors built in for survival. One of the survival strategies our ancestors developed was the ability to recognize foods containing usable energy or nutrition. They could walk through a field and instantly spot foods that contained potent, healing phytonutrients and calories that would give them usable energy, healthy brain function, boost immune function and boost overall survivability. The natural medicines found in food often appear in bright colors, and calorie-rich foods designed to appeal to primates (such as apples or berries) are also brightly colored. It is these colors that appeal to our built-in perceptions about the value of food. (Birds have a similar system and also tend to judge food by its color.)
Color is a reliable indicator of the healthful quality of foods. An apple that has red in its peel, for example, actually sends a message: "Hey, I'm here. I have some healing medicine in my skin." That's why humans are naturally attracted to more vibrant-looking apples. Berries, fruits, root vegetables and other foods broadcast similar messages through their own coloring.
Eating the rainbow diet
You may have heard of the rainbow diet, in which you eat foods of different colors. It is based on the idea that different foods carry different energies and provide different types of nutritional medicine. There is a real science to that, and an art as well. You can examine phytochemicals and their healing effects, and categorize them by color. There are foods that are purple, blue, green, yellow, red, orange, brown -- all the colors of the spectrum -- and each food has a different medicine. Our ancestors learned to recognize foods by their color, and they also learned that foods with more vibrant colors in their natural environment contain a lot more medicine.
For example, a red cabbage that is actually a dull grey doesn't look very appealing, but a purple cabbage with a saturated, bright-purple color looks fantastic. That's because we have an innate perception gauge telling us we should be attracted to these foods -- they are healthier for us, and the health quality is indicated by the saturation of the color.
This is what food-manufacturing companies are exploiting when they enhance colors artificially.
Food makers use harmful dyes to get you to buy
When you shop for oranges, you're looking for a bright, deeply colored orange. You don't want a yellowish orange, because that tells you it's not ripe; if it's not ripe, it hasn't developed all its medicine. (That's one reason why so much of the produce available in grocery stores lacks real nutrition these days -- it's all picked before it has a chance to ripen on the plant.)
Growers know about this color preference, so some of them -- in Florida for example -- hijack that instinctual process by dipping some of their oranges in a cancer-causing red dye that makes the peel look more orange. The FDA has banned that dye from use in foods, because it is a carcinogen, but they say it's okay to dip an orange in it, because people don't eat the peel. If a consumer is comparing two oranges -- one of them is yellow, and one of them is deep, rich orange -- most consumers are going to pick up the deeper, richer looking orange.
Food manufacturers use artificial colors because, when they make their foods more colorful, it turns on the light switch in our brains that says, "This is good stuff." We've been fooled; we've been drawn like a moth to a flame. If you took one nacho chip with flavors but no color and put it beside another nacho chip with the exact same flavors but lots of artificial colors to make it look more orange, and you asked people to pick which chip they think would taste better, almost everyone will choose the chip with the color. The color can actually fool your mind into thinking that these foods taste better.
Food colors are made from petroleum
Coal tar and petrochemicals are the sources of the artificial colors that go into our foods, and these artificial coloring ingredients are dangerous to our health. The human body was not designed to eat petrochemicals. You don't see people digging up petroleum and drinking it with a straw. That's not the kind of energy we're designed to run on. So why are we putting petrochemicals in our foods?
The food companies are doing it to sell a product and generate a profit, regardless of the health effects on consumers -- and the health effects have been worrisome. In fact, more than one artificial color has been banned and pulled off the market over the last several decades because it was ultimately found to cause cancer. The safety of those still allowed on the market is highly questionable.
Eventually, artificial colors used in the food supply will likely be outlawed because they contribute to all sorts of health problems, the most notable of which are the symptoms diagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a behavioral pattern often brought on by Yellow #2 food dye. Children are being fed these chemicals in such large quantities that they begin to have nervous system malfunctions that ultimately are misdiagnosed as ADHD, learning disabilities, or violent behavior.
If you want to reverse these so-called diseases in your children, one of the best things you can do is stop feeding them petrochemicals. That means you, as the parent, have to understand that your very instincts are being hijacked by food companies' use of artificial colors to sell their garbage products. It's automatic, it's innate and it's unconscious. You look at foods and you instantly evaluate them by their color. It's something that you can't stop doing because it's part of your perception hardware. Food companies know this and they exploit it to sell you unhealthy foods artificially colored to look nutritious.
How to defend yourself against dishonest food companies
So what's your defense against this? How can you take control over your own mind and make better decisions at the grocery store? You're taking the first step right now by reading this: you're educating yourself. All you have to do is take this information and apply it by reading ingredient labels. Look for artificial food coloring ingredients like Yellow #2, Red #5 or Blue Lake #40, and then avoid them. Don't buy those products. It's as simple as that. Instead, you look for natural food coloring ingredients. There are products colored with beet juice, a much healthier way to color food; annatto, a very healthy plant source; or turmeric, a fantastic herb with anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
With a little checking around, you will discover that all the cheap, low-grade, disease-promoting products in the grocery store tend to use these artificial colors. You will also find that the same snack chips, processed foods, boxed dinner meals, and junk food made by the biggest food companies also contain refined white flour, MSG and hydrogenated oils. It's really no surprise they mostly all contain an artificial color of one kind or another.
Also, you should watch out for artificial colors in fruit drinks and candy. There are loads of artificial colors in candy, which makes for a very bad combination -- especially for children. If you give kids a load of sugar and petrochemicals together in the same meal, their nervous systems go crazy. That's why you have kids climbing the walls after feeding them candy and sugary drinks with artificial colors.
Another repeat offender in this category is "sport drinks," which are loaded with petrochemical artificial colors that have no purpose other than to make the beverage visually appealing to consumers. There's no nutritional value whatsoever to using artificial colors, which means most sports drinks are a complete waste of money: they're just salt water with sugar and artificial colors added. If you want a real sports drink, you should juice some celery and cucumber, or just drink coconut water. That's real replenishment.
The confectionery industry relies heavily on artificial colors to make its foods -- like cake and icing -- look appealing as well. Icing is usually made of hydrogenated soybean oil, which is a nerve toxin, combined with refined sugars, which are dietary poisons that cause diabetes. The petrochemical-based artificial colors are used to top it off. If you really want to commit nutritional suicide, eat a lot of icing. Get yourself some iced doughnuts, cakes and pastries, and load up.
You'll notice artificial colors in foods like blueberry muffins or blueberry bagels, too. Read the ingredients on blueberry bagels at your local grocery store next time, and you'll find that there are really no blueberries but plenty of artificial blue and green colors to create the impression of little blueberry bits. They can't even put blueberries in their bagels. They have to trick you with artificial colors.
Do you know what liquid they're using to hold the color? Propylene glycol -- the same chemical you put into your RV when you want to winterize it. It is antifreeze. You're eating antifreeze and petrochemicals -- and that's just the blueberry part. We haven't even gotten to everything else, like refined sugars, chemical preservatives and refined bleached white flour, which has diabetes-causing contaminants. A blueberry bagel is no longer a blueberry bagel. When you really understand what's in the foods, it's mind blowing.
Artificial colors sometimes find their way into salmon before it even becomes food
Artificial colors turn up in a lot of interesting places. Many salmon farms are adding artificial color to their food to make the salmon flesh appear more red because that's what consumers will buy. They'll buy red or pink salmon over grey salmon any day of the week because their instincts tell them deeper, richer colors are healthier. Imitation crab meat has artificial colors added to make part of the meat look red -- but at least the label includes the word "artificial," so you can avoid it if you read labels.
The biggest form of dishonesty across the entire food industry is the use of artificial colors that influence you to buy and consume foods that actually harm your health (such as snack chips made with MSG). The food companies have figured out how to hack into your perception hardware. They send one message to your eyes, but they manufacture foods out of something entirely different. The bottom line is that foods, through the use of artificial colors, are sending an incongruent message: "I'm a healthy food." But the reality is, "I'm harmful junk food."
These companies employ tens of thousands of food scientists in the United States alone. They figure out how to make foods more palatable and less expensive by using the cheapest ingredients possible while prettying them up with artificial food colors made from petrochemicals.
Food coloring from insects
I have one more interesting tidbit I'd like to share with you. You may be familiar with a red color ingredient called carmine; it can be found in strawberry yogurt and a variety of other products. Carmine is sourced from a mash made by grinding up beetles grown in Peru and the Canary Islands. The mash is strained out to obtain a red liquid. That liquid, made from insects, is then shipped to the United States to food companies, where it is dumped into the yogurt to make it look like there are strawberries in there. Folks, it's not strawberry. It's insect juice. That's what's in your yogurt (and a lot of candy and children's foods as well).
Some people have a dangerous allergic reaction to this ingredient. They can go into anaphylactic shock, which puts them in a coma (or worse!). As this demonstrates, some of these color additives can be extremely dangerous, but you'll notice companies don't put this information on their labels. "Insect juice" is never listed on your yogurt. They merely list "carmine," and they leave it up to you to figure out what that means. Ninety-nine percent of people in this world have no idea what carmine really is, but now you do.
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About the author: Mike Adams is an award-winning journalist and holistic nutritionist with a strong interest in personal health, the environment and the power of nature to help us all heal He is a prolific writer and has published thousands of articles, interviews, reports and consumer guides, and he has authored and published several downloadable personal preparedness courses including a downloadable course focused on safety and self defense. Adams is an honest, independent journalist and accepts no money or commissions on the third-party products he writes about or the companies he promotes. In 2010, Adams launched TV.NaturalNews.com, a natural health video site featuring videos on holistic health and green living. He also launched an online retailer of environmentally-friendly products (BetterLifeGoods.com) and uses a portion of its profits to help fund non-profit endeavors. He's also a noted pioneer in the email marketing software industry, having been the first to launch an HTML email newsletter technology that has grown to become a standard in the industry. Adams is currently the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit, and practices nature photography, Capoeira, martial arts and organic gardening.
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