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.