If you consume things like ice cream, cottage cheese, heavy cream, refrigerated coffee creamers, yogurt, hot dogs, jellies, prepared sauces, etc. (seriously, the list goes on and on) then you have probably consumed carrageenan in your life. So what is it exactly? Carrageenan is a popular food additive that is basically a red seaweed extract and it has become very popular due to its gelatinous quality. In other words, it makes a wonderful food thickener. Check your food labels sometime and you can thank carrageenan (plus things like guar, xantham, or locust bean gum, as they are often paired together) for the texture of conventional food items we have all come to love. But, don’t be too quick to thank carrageenan yet.
What was once thought of as a harmless additive has now been shown to wreck havoc on your gastrointestinal tract. Carrageenan has been shown to have a high correlation to gastrointestinal cancers in rats, guinea pigs, mice, and rabbits. So if it’s not safe for these furry rodents to eat, what is it doing to us? Are we becoming human guinea pigs? Here is my stand on it: Carrageenan is not safe to eat and should not be deemed an okay food additive. Go do your research, the facts are out there. Google Carrageenan and see what the top search results are. I’m not making this stuff up to scare people.
So with this information I started taking a closer look at the foods my family was consuming. I was not at all shocked to see that my favorite refrigerated coffee creamers contained carrageenan. I enjoy a cup (or two) of coffee every morning and I love flavored creamers. I knew I had to cut out the creamers, but how? I am not the traditional cream and sugar type of girl. I want flavor and creaminess and sweetness all wrapped up in one and I want convenience. Carrie Vitt at Deliciously Organic has saved my life and my coffee addiction. Click here and here for some yummy carrageenan-free coffee creamers that are super simple to make. I have tweaked them a little to fit my own tastes and so can you. So far I have made the Honey Vanilla and the Caramel and they are perfect. I have run into trouble along the way though. I have not been able to get my hands on any organic cream. I just don’t have the resources around me. And of course, heavy cream contains carrageenan. Does organic heavy cream contain carrageenan? I don’t know. I have settled on using Organic Valley Half and Half for my creamers. The label does not indicate that there is carrageenan in the product so at this present time I am deeming it a safe item.
I solved the coffee creamer issue, but what about the other items we eat? My child is a yogurt fiend and has always been since he was able to eat yogurt safely. We have fed him many different yogurt items designed for babies, toddlers, and kids. We used to be a strictly Stonyfield Farm Organic YoBaby family. But for some reason they have done away with most of their options around here. He enjoys what he calls “drinkables” which are just exactly what the name implies, yogurt you can drink. When our local stores stopped selling the YoBaby “drinkables” we
were forced felt we needed to buy the Dannon Danimals “drinkables”. I have not looked at the label on those in a while, but just to make me feel better about my decisions I have switched and now buy the Stonyfield Farm Organic Super Smoothies and so far they have been accepted with thumbs up. Instead of individual cups of yogurt I now buy a large container of Stonyfield Farm Organic French Vanilla Whole Milk yogurt and dish out individual portions. That covered two of my bases but now my child has taken to “goGurts”. I thought, okay, Stonyfield Farm Organic YoKids Squeezers would be it. Guess what those little convenient yogurt tubes contain? You guessed it, carrageenan! Case in point, just because something is organic doesn’t mean it’s not processed or contains food additives. Read your labels people!
Take a minute this week and read the labels on the foods you consume most. Do they contain carrageenan? If they do, it’s time to start looking at some different options. I have declared an all out war on carrageenan for the health of my family. Colon cancer runs in my family on my mother’s side. Do you think I want to cut my risk even more? You betcha!