purple donut
Nemo’s great uncle

There never was a trend that the processed food industry didn’t find some way to twist all out of shape. Start counting the days until a bunch of unnaturally bright red, pink, or purple products can market themselves as “all natural.” Because right now, scientists are working on creating dyes from purple sweet potatoes.

NPR reports:

[Food chemist Stephen] Talcott says purple sweet potato pigments are unique because they have “tremendous” color stability. In other words, they have more intense color and a wider color range — from raspberry red to grapelike purple — than other deeply hued fruits or vegetables. They’re also well-suited for food products because they have a neutral flavor — unlike grapes, which have good color but bitter tannins. The sweet potato pigments even boast slight health benefits — they are mildly anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic, Talcott notes.

Oy. So basically, we’re going to have to come up with a new word to distinguish between food that’s actually food and food that’s stitched together from a bunch of chemicals that, sure, originally came from plants, but have been isolated, concentrated, and turned into something else altogether? Because even if your sports drink is made from all-natural dyes with all-natural sugars and all-natural electrolytes — it’s still a sugary sports drink that’s been dyed a weird shade of red.