Did you guys know that a red dye used to make coffee that Starbucks sells is made from crushed insects? :-p A very interesting blog post whether you are vegan, or this new info grosses you out. Plenty of stuff I didn't know about!
People, why must you ruin my coffee-drinking life? When I indulge my fondness for the nectar of the burnt bean, I’m looking for a rich java experience, one brightened with a faint hint of bugs and a remote hope for the sweet surcease that only caffeinated death could bring. Must you take even this from me?
Buckling under pressure from the all-powerful vegan lobby, Starbucks has announced that it will soon stop preparing some of its drinks and foods with a red dye made from crushed insects. As the Associated Press reports:
The company says it will swap out cochineal extract, which is made from the juice of a tiny beetle, and instead use lycopene, a tomato-based extract.
Cochineal dye is widely used in foods and cosmetics products such as lipstick, yogurt and shampoo. Starbucks had used the coloring in its strawberry flavored mixed drinks and foods like the raspberry swirl cake and red velvet whoopie pie.
Let us first stipulate that I am already on the record as a man not unwilling to eat insects. Indeed, sometimes I can be enthusiastic about the prospect. (Why? Circle of life, my friends, the circle of life: the bugs will get their chance soon enough.)
But lycopene? Does no one see what putting a tomato extract into foods already laden with sugar, corn syrup, salt, and other ingredients will mean? It will mean that they are making ketchup! You can’t add ketchup to whoopee pies! It’s madness!
Furthermore, are people unaware of the noble history of the insect dye in question, as so gloriously explained by Amy Butler Greenfield in her book A Perfect Red (HarperCollins, 2005)? The cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus), which is native to cacti growing in Mexico and other parts of Central America, produces the dyestuff (also known as carminic acid) in its exoskeleton to repel predators
The Aztecs and Mayans discovered the dyestuff (also known as carmine) in crushed preparations of the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus) native to cacti growing in Mexico and other parts of Central America and used it to create fabrics more vividly colored than any seen before. (The carminic acid in the insect’s exoskeleton helps it to discourage predators.) In 1519 Spanish conquistadors brought it back to Europe and gave Spain a prized monopoly on the dyestuff for many years: after silver, cochineal became the most valued commodity imported from Mexico. Greenfield describes how the brilliance of what the chemist Robert Boyle hailed as “a perfect Scarlet” ignited a fierce industrial struggle among European powers:
Determined to break Spain’s lucrative monopoly, other nations turned to espionage and piracy. In England, the Netherlands, and France, the search for cochineal soon took on the tone of a national crusade. Kings, haberdashers, scientists, pirates, and spies all became caught up in the chase for the most desirable color on earth.
Meanwhile, as bright red fabrics and pigments became more widespread, European attitudes toward the color red changed. Red garments, which had once been available only to the wealthy, nobility, and high-ranking clergy, was embraced by the poorer classes—and that in turn led the contrary Victorian gentry to start wearing dark clothes and to dismiss red as vulgar, immoral extravagance.
Read the rest here.
I must admit even if there is a tiny bit of insect crushed dye in my morning coffee it won't stop me from drinking it. But all this, and the relashionship to the color red, I find fascinating
Yes, the blog is more about dyes and the cultural significance of colors, than bugs in our coffee or strawberry yogurt. I found it very interesting too!
Yes, interesting and funny blog post. I've known all about the cochineal extract since I was in college, but it doesn't gross me out. That book does look interesting. I like those kinds of books. There are actually quite a few along those same lines on Amazon.com. There are a lot of coffee, sugar, and tobacco, of course, but you can also find them on fish, rice, corn, and even ice: http://www.amazon.com/Ice-Nature-History-Astonishing-Substance/dp/0...
I am like you Dallas I have learnt about cochineal colouring coming from beetles when I was about nine. My mum told me and my brothers about it when she was making a pink icing for patty cakes one day.
That looks like an interesting book.
Yeah, some people are grossed-out by bugs.
I usually ask their opinion on the number of acarians they are currently carrying...
Or the number of small spiders they eat in their sleep!
Not to mention the bacterial ecology they represent =)
As long as I don't see them, I'm fine with them :-)
Thanks for reminding me I need to wash my sheets. Although I am not really all that bothered by the fact that my body and home plays host to a multitude of lifeforms, I still get an odd feeling of satisfaction in knowing I've reduced their numbers through washing, cleaning, dusting, and vacuuming.
and if you own a feather pillow, lots of birds did without.... life I guess