Had such a great visit to a Cochineal farm. Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) are small parasitic insects which feed on prickly pear cacti, the insects have been used as a red dye for clothing, cosmetics, food and paint for thousands of years. To get the dye, the females attach their cocoon onto the prickly pear (2nd photo) where it needs for 20 days, when it metabolises the prickly pear, transforming it into a scarlet red liquid. They are then collected and crushed to make the dye. The use of Cochineal as a dye had primarily been replaced with synthetic dyes, it is still occasionally used for cosmetics and in certain E numbers. However, with the growing concern with many synthetic dyes being carcinogens and having a negative impacts on the environment, perhaps this small bug which has been used for thousands of years could hold the key to more sustainable dying techniques. In addition, the prickly pear it feeds on is delicious and nutritious for humans, so there would be minimal waste. Whilst Cochineal may not be vegan, its significantly better for the environment and human health, how do you feel about dyes made from insects?