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  1. says

    Thanks for this helpful article Tiffany! I have often wondered about carrageenan in my son’s coconut milk and chocolate milk boxes he takes for school. Can you tell me where you got your info on Annatto though? That is new to me and I see a lot of conflicting info when I search the web for it. My son has had a number of skin irritations lately and while our cheese is organic, there is annatto for orange coloring in his favorite cheese. Wondering if the two are related? Thanks!

    • Tiffany says

      Hi Christine!

      My research was a compilation of several sources, but here’s one that was a big help with annatto:

      If you search for “annatto side effects” you’ll find that MANY people have traced particular side effects (including behavior changes) specifically to annatto. You could do an elimination diet of his favorite cheese to see if it’s the culprit. I believe 2 weeks w/o the cheese, then adding it back in for a day should be able to help you determine whether it’s the culprit. Sometimes reactions happen b/c of quantity too, so a little bit might be okay, but a lot within a short time period could trigger the reaction.

  2. Heather says

    After reading your article on coffee creamers I have been an avid reader of ingredients on dairy products. Thanks for the more depth information. I am thinking we need to change my sons rice milk now. Bummer because we have tried to make it and he won’t drink it. Do you have a recommendation for one that is better than Rice Dream? He is only drinking one 8 oz cup about every other day but still….

  3. Bunnie says

    Could you explain why Vit D3 in milk is bad? We take a Vit D3 and drink raw goat milk, but I know some people that think they are buying the best store milk when they buy Vit D3 added to it. I look forward to your info!

    • Tiffany says

      The issue with the Vitamin D3 is that it’s synthetic. Part of the vitamin was removed during processing – either homogenization or pasteurization – and it’s added back in in a synthetic form. Anything synthetic is not nearly as good as the original. It’s not a deal breaker, because I know lots of people need supplements for various reasons and it’s hard to avoid, but nonetheless, it’s always best in its original form. :)

  4. Terry Palmer says

    Recent found at the local Publix , cottage cheese and sour cream from amish farms, no added ingredients to the products. I found the cottage cheese different without the sugar at first. Glad to see grocery chains adding some healthy choices. There was a very small supply of these two products and unfortunately I don’t remember the brand . The container letters are in red, the label does state that it comes from amish farms and is organic.

  5. Cheryle says

    I’ve been told by more than one physician that you need Vitamin D to absorb Calcium. Also to make sure that my Calcium supplements contain Vitamin D.

    • Tiffany says

      Hi Cheryle – I won’t argue with what a physician recommends, especially since I am not one, but I firmly believe that natural sources of vitamin D will always be better than synthetic sources. For my family, this would mean more raw milk and raw cheese and getting outside w/o sunscreen on a regular basis. :)

  6. Wendy says

    Thanks for this blog! I try to avoid dairy anyway, but it’s nice to understand more about what goes into the “food” on supermarket shelves – especially ones so many believe are inherently healthy. A quick check of my almond milk and – bummer – it has carrageenan in it. It could be worse, but definitely prompts me to pay more attention!

  7. Jena says

    Why would you avoid Xanthum & Guar Gums? I was looking to make GF tortillas for friends the other day & the recipe called for Xanthum or Guar Gum; I could only find the Xanthum in the store ($15 for a tiny bag–eek!) & ended up buying GF (rice) tortilla shells instead.

    • Tiffany says

      They’re not huge no-no’s (hence the second list), but they can be damaging to those who have severe digestive issues, or who are trying to heal their gut. Price could be another reason too, lol.

  8. says

    Thanks for writing this great piece that breaks down a lot of the garbage additives in dairy products (and in non-dairy alternatives from time to time). Carrageenan is one that I find particularly hard to avoid in non-dairy products, but there are some companies that understand the negative aspects of these ingredients and have done some work to educate consumers. I’m also happy to see someone criticizing the abundance of vitamins added to dairy products and other prepared food. It’s my understanding that most of these vitamins and minerals aren’t bioavailable, so it’s much better to get them from foods where they’re naturally present. (This is one of the first times that I’ve seen someone write about the issue with synthetic vitamins being added to food.)

    • Tiffany says

      You’re welcome Melissa! I have the same understanding as you in regards to those vitamins. Anything added to a food has to be done so through some sort of chemical reaction, i.e. it’s not natural and should be avoided (I think I read that in a Michael Pollen’s “Rules of Eating” this week, lol). We do our best to avoid synthetic anything, but it’s definitely a tricky one!

  9. Julie says

    I’m confused. You say that annatto comes from plants, and then you say it’s an artificial color. What do you mean by artificial? It’s used all over Latin America in cooking all the time, and has for centuries.

    • Tiffany says

      Hi Julie,

      Annatto itself does come from a plant (it’s actually a seed), but in most cases, the original seed is processed to make the strong yellow/orange dye that’s added to cheese and other foods. When I say artificial, I mean it’s something that has been added to the food that wasn’t there in the first place. Cheese is naturally white, not yellow, and therefore it’s artificially colored. Does that help to clarify?

      • Julie says

        Thank you for clarifying about what artificial means. I question annatto being on this list of horrible additives, however. It’s kind of like saying peanuts are horrible. They are for some people, but for the vast majority of people, there is no problem eating them. I don’t know how processed it is in American foods, but the product itself is a natural coloring agent that has been used in real food (and cosmetics) in the Americas for centuries.

  10. says

    All of these reasons is why it’s so great to make as much of these things as yourself as possible. I buy block cheese and make my own yogurt, buttermilk, and sour cream using whole milk and cream.

    • Tiffany says

      Agree! We don’t make our own sour cream though, mostly because we don’t eat enough to warrant making it (and because cream is SO doggone expensive).


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