I’ve leaned towards green for a long time, and my family knows me to be the hippie, crunchy, composting, anti-chemical, alternative type. Of course I cheated, especially when it came to delicious processed foods, and I confess to introducing Easy Mac to several people.
However, my days of eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese have come to an end. There are worse foods, yes, but Kraft products are banned from my household until their executives decide that kids in the United States deserve to have mac and cheese that is free of artificial food coloring.
Why I am focusing on Kraft’s use of food coloring when it’s also an issue in other products?
I’m specifically speaking of Kraft Foods because this company already sells its boxed mac and cheese in other countries, such as the U.K., without artificial dyes—And it costs just a few cents more. Since Kraft Foods is a U.S.-based company, it seems more than reasonable (at least to over 285,000 of us) that this option should also be easily accessible in the United States. According to Food Babe’s story about her visit to Kraft HQ, Kraft, not surprisingly, disappoints.
The reason why the U.K. version is free of Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 (which gives it that bright orange “cheddar” coloring) is so that Kraft would not have put warning labels on the packaging. In the U.S. Kraft sells an organic version of macaroni and cheese that is more expensive and that doesn’t come in the kid-targeted cartoon characters. Why not just remove the dyes from all versions?
This reminds me of the issue of Johnson & Johnson’s baby products containing formaldehyde. In other countries, like Japan and the U.K., J&J baby products do not contain carcinogenic. In the U.S., there is a more expensive “All Natural” line of products. At least in this case, J&J responded by committing to removing the chemicals from their products. Kraft, on the other hand, has indicated no plans to remove the dyes from its entire macaroni and cheese line, arguing that they are in compliance with the FDA’s requirements. Unfortunately, just because something is “safe” today, it doesn’t me it’s suspected (or yet to be known) harmful effects won’t be uncovered in the near future; several reds and yellows have already been banned (see Attachment C, page 6 in the linked file).
So, let’s reach our hands out and squeeze (metaphorically, of course)
Right now, our government does not/will not offer stricter regulations nor require more transparent ingredient labeling. Tn some cases, unfortunately, it’s because voters did not approve of these measures (as an aside 20 years is not enough time to know if there are any long-term effects of GMOs). So we, as consumers, need to spread the word to help each other become more aware and to stay educated. As consumers, we can also take action to squeeze companies where it actually matters: in their the money bags. By disrupting their branding efforts and by boycotting their products, we can pressure them into making the better choice.
By refusing to by the following products by Kraft Foods, we can effect change in our bottom-line driven economy:
Yes it takes effort to not purchase the products we are used to enjoying, but our health and especially the well-being of our children are worth spending the extra time to read labels and to find and create healthier (and oftentimes less expensive) options.
Since’s it’s much easier to replace old habits with new ones, and to counter my Easy Mac food karma, I offer you the following recipes:
And for those of you who don’t own a crockpot or don’t have the time, inclination, and/or desire to cook from scratch, I’d to introduce you to Annie’s, which offers a delicious organic alternative to the blue box. (They also have yummy snacks like Cheddar Bunnies and Bunny Grahams, but I’ll pass on their fruit snacks.) Annie’s recently came out with a microwavable version of their mac and cheese, if you prefer quick, individual portions and would like a lesser evil.
Finally, you can also sign the petition here.