A Paradox: Natural Foods with Artificial Coloring
Research by Harvard business historian Ai Hisano looks at how industry players and regulators collectively decided what butter, oranges, and other foods should look like—and how they redefined the meaning of “natural’ products by artificially coloring them to look better.
While a great article on the history of the food color business, what’s missing is a look at the evolution of the industry and consumers. HSB did briefly mention the possibilities with today’s natural food colors such as Lycopene and Carmine from Cochnineal to color a strawberry drink, but some may ask why even color at all? The answer is simple–humans enjoy color; it excites them, helps them select food and drinks, and gives them flavor ques.
In nature, strawberries are inherently a rich, scarlet red, and in turn, consumers would expect to see this brilliance of color in their “strawberry” shake, but from natural food color. Nature is colorful, the produce aisle is colorful, and humans as a species enjoy color–why would brands opt to portray “natural” products as dull and muted?