Rainbow Food – Enchanting

May 3, 2016 in Foodland, General, Health, Uncategorized by Joyce Bunderson

This past week I read a very entertaining and eye-catching article about edible rainbows by Maura Judkis. If you don’t get the Washington Post or missed the article, at least take a peek so you can see the rainbow bagels available in Brooklyn at the beginning of the article. If you’re unaware of what’s happening especially with confections, then you might also want to see the rainbow cakes; rainbow jello; Crayola cake and yes, rainbow grilled cheese. I guess I’d have to say that Judkis’ reference to Unicorn Poop cookies was my favorite. Did you even know that unicorns’ excrement is a glittery rainbow? All of the above definitely qualify for being ultra-processed foods. Note: there was a four-hour wait last month to get the rainbow bagels in Brooklyn.

I love Judkis’ reference to a “Funfetti virus, and nothing edible is immune.” The more you look, the more you discover can be turned into rainbows or other brightly colored food. Pizza, pasta, matzo and, of course, popsicles were a few of the foods that are included.

Sometimes I worry about my head being in the sand. A few months ago, I attended my grandson’s birthday party – a Lego themed party. There were Lego snacks; Lego candies and a Lego cake. It was all done so beautifully, in bright Lego colors. They were all edible (using the term loosely). It never dawned on me that this was some kind of trend.

I definitely agree that rainbows provide a pleasant reaction and it’s not just children, even an older person like myself enjoys a rainbow. However, if I admit the truth, the rainbow bagels were nauseating to me; they went over some line in my food psyche.

It’s amazing to me that this “virus” of food coloring use, coincides with a number of the large food companies, including Nestle and Kraft, phasing out artificial coloring in their products. Because the colors are popular, we know they did not do this without a lot of thought and study. They must have evidence that the chemicals they use for coloring are either harmful or that market research reveals that too many people believe they are – or both. Food coloring is such a nutritional rainbow of confusion (can’t call it a gray area). The government; the Center for Science in the Public Interest and even the US News and World Report have plenty of information on the issue of food coloring. Some European countries have warnings on foods with food colorings – like the warnings on cigarette labels. But most of it is not a warning like, “You’re likely going to get cancer if you eat this.” It is usually a reference to hyperactivity and asthma; but I have to wonder how many of us may have a subclinical response to these additives. Or maybe, it’s just extra stuff for the body to manage/get rid of, challenging our body. In either case, we don’t really know what’s going on, and science hasn’t caught up with the answers.

My feeling is that I’m not really crazy about the idea of eating petroleum-based food colorings; especially, with increasing frequency. Even the ones that are stirred up in a chemistry lab are somewhat scary.

Now for years I’ve been trying to help people move away from processed foods, and especially processed grains and sugar, and toward fruit; vegetables; beans; seeds; and nuts. I have also tried to shine light on not eating junk. We even coined a word for it: “fude” or fake, fattening, nutritionally impoverished substances loaded with additives and marketed as “food.” Seriously, I know that a little fun food now and again, could be enjoyable. But how many times in a lifetime will your cells forgive this kind of indulgence? I certainly don’t know. But if all the children’s mom do it and your child goes to all those parties……

Processed foods contain many ingredients we can easily live without; and lack many nutrients that we’d be better off having. Personally, I encourage watching the frequency and amount of highly processed foods; for both yourself and your family. We could all learn to distinguish real food from fude. More of us could use a little knowledge and a little scorn to help us minimize those impoverished substances with so many additives, and us as the lab rats in the vast experiments to find out what ailments they may cause.

Does real food, healthy food need to be boring brown? Think of watermelon, cantaloupe, broccoli, tomatoes (naturally red or yellow); strawberries; blueberries; red, yellow, orange and green peppers; grapes; oranges; kiwi; ruby red grapefruit; yellow and green squash; carrots; papaya; mango; purple cabbage; and the myriad of green vegetables. Why not consider putting some of these real foods with your brown rice; whole grain pasta; tan chicken or fish.

When my children were young, I allowed food play. I’ve written about it before; remember Raggedy Ann Salads? Why not consider using the colors found naturally in food? Sure it’s not neon – like Wilton’s color; but it can be fun and healthy in the same bite. You or your children could make a rainbow, using real fruit. You’d have peace of mind, knowing that you’re not loading them up with ingredients that could unknowingly be causing some future problem.

Rainbows are enchanting! I say it’s smart to enjoy them more frequently in the sky than on your plate, unless they’re from real fruits and vegetables.