To the FDA

If I were to write a letter to the Food and Drug Administration it would look something like this...

The morning started out like any other. My two little girls were up, dressed and fed. We were in the time frame where there's not a lot I can get done before one of the girls needs me. I had turned to my computer to see what was going on in the world outside of our home. That was when I found this article about one mom's terrifying experience with food dyes effecting her daughter in a horrible way. I felt like my world (diet wise) was closing in on me. For the past six months I've been making a conscious effort to make healthy choices for my family. Somehow I had forgotten that there are food dyes to look out for. Feeling already sick to my stomach with this discovery I remembered something a friend had once said about, "caramel color." She had said, "It is a known carcinogen." At the time I don't think I had thought much of it and to be completely honest I didn't even know what a carcinogen was. Reading about the food dyes had it back on my mind.

car-cin-o-gen: noun, a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.

There it is. Let me disclose, I'm not a doctor. I have no qualifications as a dietician or nutritionist. I'm not sure how you read that definition, but I took it as, should NOT be consumed by living tissue, a.k.a, humans.

I ransacked the refrigerator. Soy sauce, mind you we had the wheat free kind to accommodate my youngest daughters food allergies, CARAMEL COLOR. Trash. BBQ sauce: CARAMEL COLOR. Trash. I turned to our pantry next. I'm thankful that I didn't find too many items with dyes or caramel color. However, there was one that really upset me. Oatmeal: CARAMEL COLOR. Why?! Why does oatmeal need to be a different color? Why can't it be the color that it is naturally This is the oatmeal that I was eating daily while pregnant, the oatmeal I feed my 2 year old. I was thankful that the gluten free oatmeal that Alexandra and I have been eating as of late does not contain the color.

I moved on to the bathroom in search of labels that contained caramel color or food dyes. Toothpaste: blue dye. I turned to the medicine cabinet, some of the medicines we had contained red or blue dyes. I picked up my prenatal vitamins and looked at the ingredients. Yellow, blue and red dye, all present. All in the vitamin that I have been taking daily for the last five years. The vitamin that I made sure I took, even if all else failed nutritionally, while I was pregnant. I'm mad. Why does my vitamin, something that is supposed to be a healthy choice, contain this?

I'm thankful that food dyes, in excessive amounts, are consumed with rarity in our home. Thanks to this new discovery I'm hoping to eliminate them and caramel color completely from our diets. But this doesn't answer my questions, why do they exist?

There are laws in our country keeping us safe (for example: wear your seatbelt). Why is the FDA not keeping our food safe? I know that we all have a choice in what we eat. As a busy mom I would hope that I could grab a box of, what is commonly perceived as "healthy," oatmeal and feed it to my children without worrying about hidden poison. Hidden poison that's everywhere. There are high levels of arsenic in rice. Chicken is being injected with steroids. Gluten is not necessary but yet it contaminates so many foods.
How do you combat all of this, and that's not even the half of it? Organic options are expensive. I am thankful to have the luxury to purchase the organic food our family has recently converted to. But, to be completely honest, I hate spending extra money. I hate that going out and about means that I have to bring all of our food with us. Finding organic options when eating out are few and far between. And even though organic options exist we still are leaving our food, a basic necessity of life, in the hands of someone else. At this point if moving to Alaska and living on a homestead to provide our own meats and produce were an option I would strongly consider it.

I felt like I was being a bit drastic as I made all these realization and trips to my trash can to discard foods containing dyes and caramel color. I decided to look and see what I could find as far as what foods we have in our country that are not sold in other countries. I found a list of 10 foods that are typically banned from other countries. Please look at number five as it relates directly to this specific topic.  According to this article I found on FoxNews, "Not all coloring agents are harmful, but some, including blue #1, and 2, yellow #5 and 6, and red #40, have raised specific health concerns, after research showed they can cause behavioral problems, cancer, birth defects, and other health problems in laboratory animals," (The Daily Meal, All Things Food and Drink). Remember the prenatal vitamins I mentioned? They contain yellow #6, red #40 and blue #1. Fabulous. I told all of this to my husband and he said, "It's like it's a conspiracy." For me, a light bulb had just been turned on. It really is like a conspiracy. If you can't afford organic produce or you simply don't know what a carcinogen is (me), then you continue to consume these things daily.

In writing this I have no intention to make any other person feel badly about not eliminating these things from their pantry or diet. Six months ago I wouldn't have even given this a second thought. But, here I am, wondering how am I supposed to fix this problem for my family? My family of two little girls and a husband who, genetically, need to not be eating anything that can pollute their bodies. I am in the process of finding alternatives. As I thought I was about done with this post I was looking at the box of rice cereal I was giving my daughters as finger food. The key ingredient to the one dessert I've been able to eat with all of our food allergies. Three letters stood out to me on the ingredients list, BTA. I snatched up the computer and referred back to the list of ten foods typically not allowed in other countries. Sure enough, there it was, number ten on the list. My sweet baby girls, I've been feeding them poison, everything I've been giving them has something in it that they shouldn't be having.

I was able to go to the grocery store by myself yesterday and take my time reading labels. I found a few organic cereals that did not contain BTA or BHA. My goal is to not purchase any of the ten foods on that list for my family. But, what happens when my kids go to school and their school lunch contains these things? Or they go to a birthday party and eat a cupcake with colored frosting? I am very well versed in the saying, "Everything in moderation." But, no. Just NO. In the past I used this saying as a crutch for making me feel better when I fell short in preparing healthy meals. A little bit of poison is still poison.

Food and drug administration, I'm mad. I'm mad because despite my best efforts, I'm still human. Hot dogs, food dyes and caramel color still make it to my family. My goal is to eliminate all of these things and not purchase them. But, they are easy and they are EVERYWHERE. What do I do when my children see candy at the store or need a snack when we are away from home? We live in an amazing country where we have freedom of choice. I am having the hardest time wrapping my mind around the concept that these food choices are even available. There has to be another way, doesn't there? There must be, some healthy options do exist. I applaud the companies that are doing what's right and using natural ingredients, the ones that aren't modifying foods at all. I hope one day that all companies follow in their footsteps. In the mean time, I encourage each and every one of my family members and friends who have stuck out yet another one of my, "bad food posts," to reassess. This month I plan to read every label before I purchase anything. If there's something I'm not sure about I will look it up. If there's something I can't pronounce, I won't buy it. My ultimate goal is to try 30 days of no processed foods. We as a family are getting there, slowly. With summer around the corner I feel like eating "real food," is going to be a bit easier to jump start. I know this won't always be an option but I hope and pray that for us it will soon be our new normal. For now we will stick to food that has no dyes, no artificial color, no caramel color, no preservatives (this one of the hardest to avoid for us as it seems to be in so many meats) and is made of all ingredients we can pronounce. We have a choice. We can keep our bodies fueled with real food if we make it a priority.


A mom who is trying.

For my friends and family: I wanted to share a list with you of foods that had caramel color, dyes, or preservatives that were in our house that I was surprised by. I will list the food and options I've found that don't have them.

Quaker Oatmeal instant packets (caramel color)  --->Chex gluten-free does not!
Soy Sauce (so many have caramel color) --->Gluten free section you can find one without wheat or caramel color
BBQ Sauce (too many to list have caramel color) --->Stubbs Brand does not have it
Yogurt-certain flavored brands (caramel color) --->Organic yogurt
Honey Bunches of Oats (caramel color) --->Organic cereals
Rice Crisipies (BTA) --->Organic cereals
Pretzels (caramel color and preservatives) --->Organic pretzels
Ginger Ale (caramel color) ---> Sparkling water with cranberry juice (this was one of my favorites growing up)
Hand soaps/body wash/shampoo/toothpaste --->Young Living Essential Oil alternatives

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