Eat the Fake Dye or the Bugs Get It

March 30, 2012

Update at the bottom.

Oh yeah, it’s a tangent.

The other day my eleven year old and I were out for what she calls “a Big Day.” This involves special things and special places like hiking up one of our favorite trails or going to the zoo, or going to a movie or any number of things that allow us to spend some quality time together doing something we love. Whatever we do, it almost always means a trip to Starbucks. She loves the Strawberries and Creme Frappucino, and I just like strong coffee. But when we sat down to enjoy our drinks, a strong strawberry smell wafted into my nostrils, and I commented to her how much more strawberry it smelled than ever before and maybe the baristas treated her to some extra “juice”? Now I’m wondering exactly what made it so pungent.

Starbucks, in an attempt to please their customers who desire that all of their ingredients come from natural sources, has changed from a synthetic red dye for some of their items to cochineal which is made up of ground insects by the same name. This was irritating to learn. I had already salved my conscience with the thought my daughter consumes synthetic red dye only on occasion, and now I had to learn about this bug! I went in search of information on the cochineal. Ohmygosh, who knew so much was written about it?! And really, I could have gone the rest of my life not knowing, but since I do, well, I’m just curious as hell about everything that comes into my path, so now I’m following this blog.

The Culprit

But my concerns are piddly compared to the vegans. They are up in arms about the approximately 70,000 cochineal that are sacrificed for one pound of dye. Horrors! I have no idea if this is true, and I don’t care, but you can see the supposed statistic here. Which makes me wonder, “What do these people do all day that they have time to ponder this crap?!”

Psst: I would hate for feminist to find out that these are female cochineal.

Do you think Richard Armitage might be a vegan? NOoooooo, he likes food too much, and he did mention the turkey. :D

Update: So Starbucks caved to the vegan pressure, and in so doing hurt the economy in some parts of Africa. See Bug Girl’s post.


  1. It’s not kosher.

  2. Oy

  3. Say it ain’t so Sam!!!!! A vegan?! My world would crash around me. Surely not. Yeah there’s the turkey. That’s the ticket. If turkey, beef would follow. But ewwww, bugs? And they complain about hamburger?! If the ingredients of hot dogs & sausage were known….wait this all started w/coffee? And strawberries. Speaking of which…tell 11 yr old I’m bringing 30 lbs of Tx strawberries home. I make a killer strawberry milkshake. :)

  4. I’m not so bothered by the bug-made dye, (it’s been in use for centuries), as I am by them using any coloring or artifical flavoring at all and not just using real freaking strawberries. As a society we’ve become too accustomed to artificial everything and we’re all getting sicker and fatter from it.

    In addition to eating turkey, Richard also mentioned that his mom wouldn’t let him have lots of pre-packaged, artificial junk food as a kid. I suspect that’s why he looks so yummy. (You are what you eat) haha :-)

  5. As a vegetarian, I’d love for RA to be vegan ;) I can just imagine him scoffing dow tofu and chasing it with a nice miso soup with wakame seaweed!
    He’d be the sexiest vegan EVER! ;)

  6. I was a vegetarian for 15 years. One of my phases (as my mom initially called it.) Now, I actually crave steak at times. I don’t know how it swung so far in either direction. But now I know I could not go back.

    i guess it is too much too ask to have strawberries in a strawberry drink!

    But why, oh why, must the female of every specie be the ones to be sacrificed. Aren’t there any good male cochineals they could us.

  7. I guess the males just aren’t good for much. ;-)

    I like meat, but I’m not a big meat eater. I can go days without eating it. Thankfully, there is no vegetable I won’t eat — even Brussel sprouts. Love ’em!

    RA would be a boon for the vegan cause. Can you imagine how many women would try it?! Whatever he’s doing, he does seem to be eating right. :D

  8. Poor little buggers, not just sacrificed, but squooshed. One way to keep the bugs from taking over the world though.

  9. I lied. I already knew what cochineal is. You can’t homeschool and not know “important” facts like this. :D What is so asinine about some of the non-vegans getting upset is that this stuff has been used almost forever. However, I didn’t know it was in the Starbucks drinks, but I’m not too disturbed about it — at least personally. My 11 year old doesn’t drink thinks like Strawberries and Creme or soda pop or juice drinks but maybe 2-3 times a year. We don’t have that stuff at my house. None of my kids drink this stuff on a regular basis. They did not grow up drinking it, so that makes it really easy not to continue. LOL! No, this isn’t another tangent, but maybe I should write one about how soda pop and juice drinks not to mention energy drinks are doing us in. That’s something more people need to get up in arms about.

  10. LOL! Love the title on this post.

    Glad you find my blog amusing.
    Make sure you don’t miss the insect cookery recipes–it’s in the Food category :D

  11. I do find it amusing, but I followed because it’s also informative. Well done!

  12. I don’t care whether Starbucks is vegan or not and I think eating bugs is our future, but if they’re going to put bugs in a beverage, they should make that clear to their customers. It’s like the stupid aborted fetal cells being used by Pepsi to design flavors. Who is going to think to even ask such a thing? But you know people care, so you should be upfront about it. I’d rather they used fresh strawberries but then the first person who gets e coli is going to be all annoyed about that.

  13. As far as know, they had it listed as an ingredient. Not sure about that. All I do know is that the smell of the Strawberries and Creme drink is so pungent it’s almost creepy.

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