My Campari and soda was made from…bugs??

As an advocate for natural dyes, I am familiar with, and have used, cochineal. Yes, that’s a beautiful red dye made from…bugs.  Since their prime food source, prickly pear cactus, is ubiquitous in my home state of New Mexico, most of us natural dye-ers can source this directly–a bonus since commercial cochineal can be expensive.  As I said, I have used cochineal in the past, however, I no longer do so as I have evolved into a plant-based dyer, partly out of concern for our planet’s fauna, no matter how, um, icky.

If you share this concern, you will be happy to know that you can now drink your favorite Italian libation, Campari and soda, without guilt. “Guilt?” “What in the world are you talking about??” Yep, Campari’s distinctive red color (and some say flavor) came from the cochineal bug until 2005.  It’s now made the “modern” way–with artificial red dye. I can’t decide which one is worse.


More on Campari’s switch here.




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Brett Barker

Brett Barker is a painter, textile artist, art/design instructor, and writer whose career spans more than 25 years. Originally from New Mexico, she now resides in Redondo Beach, California. She has taught fine art, artistic design, and textile design to numerous individuals, art guilds, and organizations throughout the U.S. She has a Master's Degree in Art Education from the University of Nebraska. Her artwork sells throughout the U.S. and is available on her website, She is currently undertaking a year-long investigation of Japanese shibori dyeing that will culminate in a trip to Japan to study under a master shibori artist in September of 2016. Her shibori blog can be found at Her surface and textile designs can be found at

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