By Fredrica Syren:
Since committing to as natural a lifestyle as possible for my family, reading ingredients lists and saying no to certain kids’ foods has become a daily chore for me. I always have to question ingredients, read labels and be suspicious. Sometimes I feel like the bad food police and a really mean mommy when saying “no.” On rare occasions, I do give in and let them eat what they want, but not very often. It might seem extreme to some but I don’t see it as denying my kids good things in life; it’s just that there are plenty of natural, toxic-free goodies that benefit them instead of hurt them. These are my kids, and this how their dad and I have decided to raise them. We are not inclined to tell other parents what or how to feed their kids but hope that maybe, just maybe, we inspire them to at least question what it is in modern day foods that they feed their family.
Last week, my kids received to small package of candy from the U.S. as a gift. The thought was so sweet and they were excited. The package stated it was Real Juice, Real Goodness, hmmmmm. However, once we opened the box and the kids smelled the strong odor of artificial ingredients, they backed away and voluntarily returned the candy to me. My oldest, Bella (8 years old), asked me what was in them, so I began to read the ingredient list. I was a bit taken back by it and promised her we would figure out exactly what they all are. So, here we go.
Corn syrup — There have been many debates around corn syrup and whether it’s equal to sugar or worse. Corn syrup is mostly found in very poor quality and highly processed foods that also may contain compounds like fats, salt, chemicals and even mercury.
Apple juice from concentrate — A heavily processed concentration of the juice from the apple, giving a stronger taste
Sugar — Well, we already know what sugar does to a kid, but most candies do involve sugar. It’s hard to avoid.
Modified food starch — This is very processed and is used as a gelling agent, insuring maintenance of the right texture in both frozen and microwaved foods. It’s also used as thickener in fat-free foods.
Gelatin — This is found in most gummy candies and is a mixture of peptides and proteins from the skin, bones and connective tissues of dead animals such as cattle, chicken, pigs and fish. Of course, any vegetarians or vegans should avoid food containing this product.
Artificial flavors — They are synthetic ingredients that add flavor to processed food. Chemists who are flavor specialists formulate the perfect artificial flavor and smell for products.
Carnauba wax — This wax is made from the leaves of the palm tree. It’s used to provide a glossy waxen sheen in candy … and cars, shoes, dental floss, surfboards and floors.
Food colors — There is a lot of controversy regarding artificial food colors, and I understand why. They are made mostly from petroleum — yes, the same thing most cars run on. Many of the artificial food colors have been banned from many European countries. Despite this, they’ve been used in the U.S. without much resistance and are considered safe.
Red 40 — In some people, Red 40 may cause symptoms of hypersensitivity, including swelling around the mouth, and may also cause hives. The colorant might contain contaminants that may contribute to cancer in humans and could trigger hyperactivity in children.
Yellow 5 — Also know as tartrazine, it has been known to cause serious allergic reactions such as asthma (particularly for people who are allergic to aspirin). It’s also known for causing hyperactivity in some children.
Blue 1— It has the capacity for inducing an allergic reaction in individuals with pre-existing moderate asthma. Animal studies indicate that it can cause tumors.
After researching all these ingredients, I feel sick to know it’s allowed in food aimed at kids. It also reinforced our beliefs that we need keep track of what our kids eat.
To read more about food colors, their effects on children, and to know more about reading food labels, check out these articles: