How the Zapotec Village Taught Me Bugs Are Okay to Eat

Zapotec village is a beautiful village in Oaxaca.

It’s full of brightly colored blankets and lots of homemade/homegrown organic things.

It’s also where crazy skilled weavers spend hours creating detailed blankets directly from the environment around them. And I give them mad props for it…

I can’t even keep still for 5 minutes, let alone dedicate SO much attention & time to one thing. But… I am so glad they’re able to because the blankets are gorgeous and they taught me something ground breaking…

 Bugs are okay to eat

Yeah, maybe not all bugs, but some bugs are definitely okay. Check this out…
When we were in Oaxaca we took a tour of the Zapotec Village and sat down with a Oaxacan women who explained the dying process of the blankets with us. (If you want to learn more about our tour to the Zapotec Village read this post! )

The red dye found in their blankets, clothing, food & just about everything else imaginable is derived from the Cochineal bug.

The bugs are first dried out and then ground into a powder which is later turned into a dye.

Everything is natural, everything is organic.


And that’s not even the interesting part, get this… that red dye is actually really common and found in a lot of the food we eat.

yeah, you’ve been eating bugs ( a very small amount) your entire life and have never known.
So, now anytime you see carmine, cochineal extract or natural red 4, you can bet theres most likely a little powdered bug in your food.
And it doesn’t stop with food, the dye is found in clothing, cosmetics, pills, EVERYTHING. But, I wouldn’t rule out red dye just yet, because unless you are allergic it’s honestly probably much healthier than the alternatives.
*Note: If you are allergic to Cochineal Extract run in the other direction… you definitely don’t want to be eating these little bugs. 
Most of the other sythetic red dyes used that don’t contain bugs (Citrus Red No. 2 & Red No. 40) are derived from coal & petroleum byproducts. Now, I’m definitely not a doctor, but it’s safe to say that I’d rather eat a bug then petroleum.
[Studies on mice have found that consuming red dye had damaging effects on their DNA. It’s also been linked to hyperactivity and accelerating cancerous tumors. YEP, no thanks (source)]
Zapotec Village

Plus the fact that many other countries like Europe have banned synthetic food dyes makes me even more uneasy about the whole situation.

The terrible part of this all is that most of these dyes are found in children cereals, candy, snack foods and  powdered drinks…. and it doesn’t stop there. They’re even dipping oranges in red dye (Citrus Red 2) to make them look more appealing.

After finding that malignant lung and bladder tumors in rats were caused by Citrus Red 2, The World Health Organization & Agency for International Research on Cancer determined that it should not be consumed by humans.

The FDA’s way around this? It only allows the skins of the oranges to be dipped in it… So no orange peel recipes unless you’re going organic guys.

Good news is if you’re not into the synthetic red dyes, and you’re really not into bugs either, there is still a way!  Companies are now using even more natural ways to achieve the red color in certain foods… *Que the Beet juice, paprika, red cabbage and turmeric.

Basically I would say stick with the natural & organic alternatives and stay away from synthetic dyes.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

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