Nature’s Easter Eggs

eggsWith many of us dying Easter eggs this week, I got curious about eggs that are naturally colored. We’ve raised chickens (Ameraucanas) that laid turquoise-to-olive eggs; our current flock of Black Sex-links lay in shades of tan. In fact, I usually have to buy white eggs at the store in order to achieve those pastel Easter hues.

But what about other kinds of birds? For instance, why do American Robins lay blue eggs, Burrowing Owls lay white eggs, while the American Golden Plover lays eggs that look like ovoid granite rocks, with big, black speckles on a white background? How and why do eggs come in so many colors?

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Seeing Red

redcoats-painting-f-cotes-pxt-1764-by-francis-cotes-1726-1770

What do Minute Maid® or Ocean Spray® ruby red grapefruit juice, Revolutionary War British soldier uniforms, and Almay lipstick have in common? Yes, they’re all red. But there’s more to it than that. They, along with a myriad of other cosmetics, foods, and a few fabrics, all contain a red dye known as cochineal red or its derivative, carmine.

Almost everything these days contains some sort of artificial color. While some people avoid these dyes, most don’t think twice even if they do happen to read the label. Besides, cochineal isn’t artificial. It’s a natural product that has been used for hundreds of years.

So just what is it, and where does it come from?

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