When it comes to our children, there is nothing we want more for them than to have good health. So, when they reach for a snack, we try our best to offer nutritious choices that will benefit their bodies and minds. However, when reading the labels on some of the most popular “kid-friendly” food and drinks, it’s easy to see that those in charge of our food supply have a very different agenda. According to the Food Marketing Workgroup (FMW), the junk food industry spends nearly 2 billion a year marketing to kids! Not only are these products laden with refined sugar, GMO’s and sodium, boxes sporting popular cartoon characters often contain as many artificial flavors and dyes as the packages in which they come. What makes this even harder to swallow is learning that these same artificial colors and chemicals have long been banned overseas! In many European countries, for example, you won’t find synthetic dyes in a list of ingredients because the European Union requires foods with artificial colors to carry a warning label. The reason – numerous studies, including one entitled, Food Dyes A Rainbow of Risks, by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), citing evidence that artificial food dyes pose the risks of cancer, allergies and hyperactivity/behavioral problems in children. Afraid that warning labels could scare away customers, many popular brands have swapped synthetic ingredients for more natural substitutes in products sold across Europe.
In Britain, a well-known orange soda is dyed with pumpkin and carrot extract while the U.S. version is dyed with Red 40 and Yellow 6. Popular morning cereal bars colored with Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1 in the U.S., are made with beetroot, annatto and paprika extract in the UK.Despite their ability to replace toxic chemicals with healthier alternatives, these companies are taking no such precautions elsewhere, leaving it up to the consumer to educate themselves about ingredients in order to make informed choices and keep our kids safe. Here to help, our website and recipe books – including one specifically for kids - are loaded with ideas that can help you feel confident about what you put on their plate. Since seasonal produce packs the most nutrition, this time of year, offer up a delicious pumpkin pie smoothie or apple cinnamon kale chips for a truly healthy treat. Veggies dipped in hummus are always a top notch choice, or try our delicious, cheesy popcorn sprinkled with coconut oil and nutritional yeast! In a huge hurry – toss a clementine into your bag and carry the immune boosting benefits of vitamin C with you wherever you go! Plus, children love the flavor of antioxidant rich fruit like berries and grapes, and find it hard to resist easy-to-serve apple slices or celery sticks spread with raw almond butter! When you get back to the basics, the possibilities really are endless! Proving, with just a little bit of preparation, snack time can be simple – without any sacrifice for your family’s health!