you're not familiar with the movie "Soylent Green"
it's about a future where the planet is overcrowded, resources
are very thin and society is tightly controlled. Their food
is even more highly processed than our food is today, partly
in an attempt to extract every possible calorie to feed the
masses. At the climax of the movie, the hero (Charlton Heston)
discovers that the staple referred to as "Soylent Green"
is made from reprocessed human bodies. He runs through the
streets in horror shouting "Soylent Green is People!"
In our case, Soylent Red is Bugs.
Believe it or not, one of the oldest food
colorants that's still in common use today is derived from
insects. Carminic acid, derived from the shells of a specific
dried female insect (Dactylopius coccus costa) is the main
pigment in carmine or cochineal extract. The insect lives
on cacti native to Central and South America and has been
used by the Aztecs for hundreds of years. The Spanish explorer
Cortez discovered carmine in the early 1500's and was impressed
by the depth of color compared to those used in Europe at
the time. It became one of South America's most valuable exports.
It's a very labor intensive process to harvest the insects,
taking a million to produce one pound of dye.
The color is extracted from the shells of
the females near egg laying time, when they turn a bright
red color. (For the squeamish, think of it as extracting the
pink color from shrimp or lobster, which are closely related
to insects) The insects are dried and the color is dissolved
into a solvent. The extract is highly filtered and there are
no residual insect parts in the final product.
Carmine isn't used in great amounts because
it's much more expensive than Red Dye #40. In some applications
it's a better choice as a colorant. While Red40 has an orange-red
hue, carmine is a deep magenta-red (closer to Red Dye #3)
It's a very stable colorant across a broad range of temperatures,
light and shelf life.
Carmine has been used for cosmetics, pharmaceutical
coatings, fillings, cake icings, and hard candy. In the liquid
form, it has found application in coloring bakery products,
yogurt, candy, ice cream, gelatin desserts, milk-based and
alcoholic beverages, fruit syrups, pet foods, jams and preserves,
meat products, hair and skin care products, lip sticks, face
powders, rouges, and blushes.
If you keep Kosher, avoid products containing