Once I worked with a girl who dated a boy and they were both vegetarian, and one day she accidentally fed him aphids with his broccoli. He took himself straight to the ER where they laughed at him. My point is, a little bit of bug won't hurt you, and as I will explain, a whole lot of bugs are a fabulous thing.
I always thought that bright red food coloring came from something like coal tar, and FD&C#40 is coal based, but did you know that several cosmetics and foods are colored with ground up bugs? Mmm, I know, makes my mouth water too.
According to several sources, some of the many foods that may contain the cochineal bug (it might say carmine on the label):
Tropicana Season's Best Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
some Yoplait and Dannon yogurts
artificial crab meat
other red-colored foods
OK, OK, but what does this have to do with knitting you ask? Behold:
One pound of wool dyed with Cochineal bugs. Isn't the color lovely? I was actually hoping for something in a deeper reddish-pink, but I was perhaps a wee bit impatient to see the results.
Many thanks to the very helpful Felicia, AKA Sweet Georgia, who provided me with detailed instructions!
One pound washed wool mordanted with one ounce (6%) cream of tartar and about 1.5 ounces (about 10%) food-grade alum
Dyed in a solution of one ounce (6%) ground and decanted cochineal, steeped for about 2 hours
Note that I was a little shy of the recommended amount of alum, but I hoped that a longer soaking would get a decent result, and I am very pleased.