7 Ways to Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day Without Food Coloring

Editorís note:†This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally posted on March 15, 2013. Enjoy!

For the past 50 years, the Chicago River has been dyed “radioactive looking Kelly green” for St. Patrick’s Day, as†one commentator puts it. The practice began when it was noticed that orange fluorescein dye used by plumbers to trace illegal sewage discharges turned the water green. After the EPA ruled that fluorescein was harmful to the river, other substances — currently, 40 pounds of powdered vegetable dye — are used.

Green is everywhere for St. Patrick’s Day, though blue was actually the†first color to be associated with it, according to some accounts. The “wearing of the green” became traditional after the 17th century, with many Irish revolutionary groups using the color in their flags.

If you’d rather forego chemical-based dyes,†green food coloring and the health risks of FD&C Green #3 (which has been linked to tumors and, in its undiluted form, can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, digestive tract and respiratory tract), here are some other ways to go green:

1) Spinach

Boil a bunch with some water and squeeze out a few drops of the result.


2) Avocado

Mash up a ripe one for a soft pale green.

3) Green apple peels

Steeped in some water, these will produce a more yellow-green hue.

4) Matcha

A pinch of this powdered green tea can turn many white foods (potatoes? — maybe stick to frosting!) into the desired hue.

5) Mint

A bunch of leaves heated in water produces a green extract.


6) Spirulina

This blue-green algae (containing†proteins, minerals and vitamins) is available in powdered form and as flakes.

7) Foods that are already green

Asparagus, cabbage, chard and kale and many other leafy greens are all in season in March. If you’d rather just stick with the green things nature has given us, you can still have a very green St. Patrick’s Day!


Related Care2 Coverage

5 Vegan Beers For A Truly Green St. Patrickís Day

Did Saint Patrick Really Chase The Snakes From Ireland?

10 Adorable Goat Videos Thatíll Brighten Your Day

Photos from Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven11 months ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Angela K.
Angela K2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

ERIKA S2 years ago

great article,thank you

Rhonda B.
.2 years ago

Once again......why bother to colour any food, etc.? You are overly feeding into the hype to go to these lengths.

Corey Brideau
Corey Brideau2 years ago

food coloring should be permanently put out of production

Janis K.
Janis K2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Rachel Nichols
Rachel Nichols2 years ago

Happy Green Day XD

Lola S.
Lola S2 years ago

enjoy many green foods but will also keep wearing my green shamrock earrings from a friend many years ago

Bill Eagle
Bill E2 years ago

I like green plants and I would even if there was no St. Patrick's day.