The Red Food Dye Nation

Homemade Orange Juice

My Grandma Penny lived on a farm on the outskirts of Clewiston Florida. Every time we visited we would fill sacks with oranges and tangerines to take home. One year we had a bucket full of oranges and my sister and I decided to make orange juice. We learned quick that it takes a lot of oranges to make one glass of orange juice.

Years later my dad brought home these little tubes that stick into the top of the orange allowing you to drink from the orange. We loved them. We would squeeze our oranges to get every last drop out then split them open and eat the insides. The tubes were a clever way to drink fresh orange juice straight from the source. I am surprised they did not survive the test of time.

I was reminded of my dad’s sacred find when the kids mentioned they would love a glass of orange juice. We did not have any orange juice in the house but we did have 4 oranges. The kids were shocked that they could drink orange juice from an orange. I know we have made fresh squeezed orange juice before.

What To Do:

1. Take an orange wash it then roll it on a cutting board pressing down firmly. This will break the little capsules that hold the juice.

2. Using a knife cut a small circular opening in the top of the orange. About 1/2 to 3/4-inches in width. Slide the knife tip downward into the hole then turn a few times.

3. Drink directly from the opening or use a straw. Squeeze the orange to draw out the juice while you slurp.

Homemade Orange Juice

My Grandma Penny lived on a farm on the outskirts of Clewiston Florida. Every time we visited we would fill sacks with oranges and tangerines to take home. One year we had a bucket full of oranges and my sister and I decided to make orange juice. We learned quick that it takes a lot of oranges to make one glass of orange juice.

Years later my dad brought home these little tubes that stick into the top of the orange allowing you to drink from the orange. We loved them. We would squeeze our oranges to get every last drop out then split them open and eat the insides. The tubes were a clever way to drink fresh orange juice straight from the source. I am surprised they did not survive the test of time.

I was reminded of my dad’s sacred find when the kids mentioned they would love a glass of orange juice. We did not have any orange juice in the house but we did have 4 oranges. The kids were shocked that they could drink orange juice from an orange. I know we have made fresh squeezed orange juice before.

What To Do:

1. Take an orange wash it then roll it on a cutting board pressing down firmly. This will break the little capsules that hold the juice.

2. Using a knife cut a small circular opening in the top of the orange. About 1/2 to 3/4-inches in width. Slide the knife tip downward into the hole then turn a few times.

3. Drink directly from the opening or use a straw. Squeeze the orange to draw out the juice while you slurp.

Washing dishes

To become a successful leader kids need to learn responsibility somewhere. That begins in the home when they are young by building their confidence through applauding small achievements. Some may have negative feelings toward chores because of the way they were brought up. I know I often felt like I was a slave rather than a kid but as I matured and gained insight I realized the responsibilities thrown at me as a kid has taught me how to be self-reliant as an adult.

Chores can be a positive and constructive way to build confidence and teach leadership through responsibility. Boys especially need chores. We are no longer a society that sends our boys out to work in the field all day. They relish the satisfaction of a job done well. Boys love to solve problems. They also need structure and to be held accountable. Give them a task and help them learn how to go about completing that task by giving them clear concise directions but with a little leeway for creativity and a consequence to hold them to it and they will radiate confidence.

Chores are also a way to teach our children how to one day care for their own homestead; moreover, help chores teach them to respect property and accountability. Boys should learn to cook, pilule clean, try do dishes and mend clothing just like girls should know how to care for their car, take out the trash, repairs and mow the law.

Know What Is Expected- Be Consistent.

I think we can agree that chores are not on our kids list of top priorities. Whenever my mom would ask my brother to clean up his reply was always “I am eating.” Somehow he was absolved without any further discussion. My daughter though she is three takes after he Uncle Todd. When asked to clean up she will lie down and feign she is oh so tired.

If you implement a system you have to be ready and willing to be consistent because they will fight you on it. They will push the boundaries a little to see how tough you are. Lay out the rules so they know what is expected of them and hold them to it. We are a team and we work together to keep the home functioning.

– Use a chore chart to help them keep track of the chores they are responsible for. There are a myriad of charts out there. Behavioral charts use motivational cues such as rewards. Chore charts can be a spinning wheel to cards. Just search Chore Charts in Google Images to find something that fits your family.

Set a time frame. Something like all their chores must be done before school or by dinnertime. For younger children the consequence might be if you have to pick up their toys you get to keep them. The next day when they ask to play with them you calmly remind them why they are put away and that they may have them tomorrow or they must earn them back. For teens you might take away a privilege. They can’t go out with their friends, play video games or watch TV.

A timer works well to keep them on task. If they insist they are too tired or hungry to do their chore set the timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off they must complete the chore or there are consequences.

Play to the age group.

Create the habit of cleaning up by introducing the concept of chores at an early age. Kids can learn at one year of age how to pick up their toys and throw away their diaper. The little ones love to imitate mom and dad hard at work. Let them contribute in their own way even though you will have to go back later to “fix” the job. Little ones can help vacuum, sweep, wash dishes and help make the bed. As they grow look for tasks they are good at and those that will help improve developmental milestones.

Since our kids are young their chores are pretty simple. I help the two year old clean the loft, the three year old has to keep the downstairs free of toys and clothing (since she is the one who usually puts them there) and the five year old chooses a task to complete each day. It could be emptying the laundry baskets or shredding papers. They are also responsible for cleaning their own room as well as helping set and clear the table. It was interesting to note one day when our five year old left something downstairs and the three year old got onto him about it. She was showing accountability for her area.

Make a list then have them choose the one they would like to be responsible for. I mentioned that the two younger children have specific household chore they are responsible for overseeing each day while the oldest may choose. When dealing out chores the first criteria to take into consideration should be age and the second the child. Our oldest is five and a highly creative kinetic learner. We know that he performs best when given the leeway to do it his way. Our daughter does not like change. She prefers to know what is expected of her in advance.

Make chores fun.

Play to a child is their job. Some days it is a struggle to get the kids to finish their chores. Other days they beg me to let them help me with mine.

– The kitchen floor becomes a skating rink. Wrap wet rags around their feet and let them skate to mop the floor.

– The sink becomes a car wash. Little ones love to play in the suds. They may start out playing with their cars and end up washing dishes, the chairs, the cabinets and even you.

– Play a game under the blanket to make the bed. The kids can pretend they are in a cave. Spread the bedding out over them smoothing the edges to make the bed. Reaching in from the bottom of the bed grab their feet and pull them toward you and off the end of the bed. Then attack them with tickles and kisses. move on to the next bed.

As a mom I understand the biggest hurtle is time. School and extra-curricular activities do not leave much time for quality family time or responsibilities at home. Your plan and how it is carried out depends on your family dynamics and the specific chores. After a six hour day at school the last thing I want to ask of my child when he gets home from school is to complete his chore, especially if he has homework and sports practice. We have tried early morning chores before school. Before bed time did not work either. We have small children who go to bed early to ensure they get the maximum sleep needed. In the mornings it is a race to get everyone dressed, fed and out the door. We have found right before dinner works best in our home, if weekdays are too hectic schedule chores on the weekends.

Photo by: Hemera / Thinkstock

When our oldest was a toddler we used Burt’s Bees baby toothpaste. It tasted like fruit without the zing of fluoride. A couple of years later Burt’s Bees quit making the baby toothpaste. I made the switch to a kids store brand and was met with constant daily battles to get my son to brush his teeth.

A year ago I was in the toothpaste isle picking up new toothbrushes and a tube of paste for us, sildenafil more about mom and dad, when I noticed there was a strawberry flavored toothpaste. I thought, hey why not buy it for the kids. I did not even think about what might be in it. My only concern was stopping the daily “brush your teeth” battle that had been going on the past four and a half years.

That evening I took out the tube then squeezed a dot onto the baby’s toothbrush and was shocked. The stuff was flourescent red. My first thought was “how much sugar did they put in this stuff” and my second thought was “Uh, this stuff is unnaturally red.” Normally I never gave dyes a second thought. Yet, for some reason there was something unnatural about that tube of toothpaste that I just could not let rest.

The question coming up a lot lately is, are food dyes ok? Do they spark behavioral issues in kids and health complaints in adults? Have dyes contributed to the rise of ADD, ADHD, and Autism in the past 40 years as a result of their increased consumption? For years the food administration has given their stamp of approval for the use of petroleum based dyes in food. Dyes that are in everything from cleaners to toothpaste to medicine.

In 2007 a study was forth coming siting the dangers of food dyes. As a result of the study the UK food administration required warning labels on all products containing petroleum dyes. The warning labels advised parents of the risk of hyperactivity due to the dyes. Industry leaders Kraft, Mars, Coca Cola and Wal-Mart skipped the warning labels choosing instead to make products shipped to the UK Sodium Benzoate and petroleum dye free. Yet here in the US these same companies continue to sell products for human consumption that harbor harmful petroleum based dyes and preservatives.

Clipart by: unknown

More recently in April 2011 the FDA held a hearing to once again determine if dyes contribute to hyperactivity. Advocates for the removal of all synthetic dyes from food products and medicines claim that non-food based dyes are unnecessary and cause hyperactivity in children. They gave compelling evidence that linked petroleum based preservatives and dyes to the increased number of children with allergies, ear infections, mood, cancer, ADHD, ADD, Autism, and other related spectrum disorders. The panel, minus one, agreed that dyes most likely cause a threat and yes warning labels should be required.

The battle was far from being won. Rather than give a statement based on their findings, the panel was required to answer a series of questions. Questions devised by crafty lawyers that when answered either way would be interpreted as, “food dyes do not cause hyperactivity or allergies in children.” Therefore, the FDA ruled that there was not enough evidence. Thus, companies were not required to post a warning label on consumable products here in America.

Color is beautiful!

After the April FDA ruling, dye advocates launched a campaign to gain support for the use of chemical dyes. The ads adopted images of gray popsicles calling, “a world without dyes…colorless.” Kantha Shelke, a food chemist and spokeswoman for the Institute of Food Technologists, stated, “Color is such a crucial part of the eating experience that banning dyes would take much of the pleasure out of life.”

Tattfoo Tan believes that Mother Nature has it all taken care of. Tattfoo Tan, is a Malaysian-born artist who resides in Staten Island. He developed The Nature Matching System “as a reminder to consume your [natural] daily recommended doses of color.” Tan wanted to understand the connection between the color of food and its nutritional value. Tan matched 88 natural colors using photographs of the fruits and vegetables found in the Union Square Green Market in New York and Photoshop’s eyedropper tool. Tan agrees “neon orange Cheetos is something spectacular to look at but the nutritional value is zilch.”

So what is the truth?

We know commercial food coloring is derived from coal tar oil, petroleum, and insects because it is cheaper to make; but, it comes with a price. The FDA is confident that all of the toxic proponents in the petroleum is eliminated during processing. They counter the accusations that dyed foods contain toxic chemicals from the petroleum, with: natural foods contain more petroleum from the fertilizer and the means of transporting crops than the amount of trace elements found in the actual dyes and preservatives.

We know that organic natural fruits and vegetables can be used to make an array of colorful dyes. The food industry refutes the idea of using natural dyes. They claim natural food dyes are too unstable, too muted and, uninteresting. They are convinced that no one will want to eat natural dyed foods. They believe that the public prefers the neon orange Cheetos to the pale peach natural Cheetos. The bright red strawberry Jello to a muted brown. Natural food companies such as India TreeSurf Sweets and Yummy Earth are determined to meet the need of color.

Who do we believe?

Voices from Dr. Feingold to Gwyneth Paltrow preach the benefits of a clean whole foods diet void of the unnecessary preservatives, artificial flavors, sweeteners and dyes. The FDA on the other hand in unison with countless doctors, scientists and organizations swear synthetic additives in food are not harmful. I decided to test the theory in my own home on our son who has Aspbegers.

The Test…

For one month we threw out all preservatives, artificial flavors and sweeteners, and dyes. It was very difficult at first because our city does not have a health food store and the kids are creatures of habits. They wanted their favorite foods.

Almost everything had to be made from scratch. Because companies are not required to list the ingredients in the products they use from outside sources I ordered the Feingold grocery list to help navigate the store isles when I needed something convient. Even though the label looks clean that is not always the case.

In one week I noticed a considerable change in my son. He could think more clearly. He was not bouncing off the walls in a rage. He was writing and reading without tantrums. The defiance leant way to a more agreeable attitude. He is happy and still full of life but the regular ticks are minimal.

The real test came on Easter Sunday. The kids ate a handful of jelly beans and for four days they were absolutely out of their minds. The defiance, screaming, and tantrums were back. The other children were moody, defiant and hyper.

I’d say from personal experience the answer for us is clear. Synthetic replacements in the form of preservatives [BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Burylated Hydroxytoluene), TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone)], artificial flavors and sweeteners (aspartame and splenda), and dyes are indeed harmful and do cause adverse reactions; especially in individuals with predisposed allergies and learning disorders.

What now?

The next question is, will the FDA ever be responsible and require warning labels on products or warrant the elimination of such harmful chemicals? Nah, probably not. Or at least not in the near future. The pool of individuals sensitive to artificial flavors and colors is too small. If you call every one kid in 28 small. Fortunately there are reputable companies springing up to lead us into a colorful yet nutritious tomorrow.

Links:

–Visit Indie Candy and Natural Candy Store for natural baking supplies including food based dyes.
Eco Kids: for all natural craft supplies such as egg dye and playdough.
–Join the mission for Better School Food.
Spoonfed: Tips to help kids adopt a healthy diet comprised of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.
–Natural recipes for dyes: Rhythm of the Home, Natural Cookie Frosting, Natural Colored Rice Balls, Natural Easter Egg Dye, Darling Clementine, Homemade Playdough Dye, Natural Dyed Jello.