All the Stuff You Don’t Want to Eat…But You Do Anyway

So, I was watching David Letterman last night because Jamie Oliver was on. I adore him…in a innocent non-stalking kind of way. He is very much to the point, has an interest in making the world a better place AND he is a darn good chef.

He was talking about why knowing about the food you eat is important..and then he dropped the bomb….Food additives in vanilla ice cream… So what? We all know we eat additives, right? Why research them? The FDA approved them, right?

Well..the next few words caused me to pause mid chew. Yes. Mid chew.

“Did you know that there are beaver’s anal glands in vanilla ice cream?” Jamie asked with a smirk. A very smirky smirk.

I thought it was a joke. Turns out? It’s not. Apparently someone decided that beaver anal glands enhanced sweets, including vanilla ice cream and many raspberry products. The substance can be found on your ice cream as castoreum; if it is in a small enough amount it does not have to be listed.

Have a little Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, folks……

Beaver’s butt might be bad enough but you regularly, happily eat other stuff that is as bad or worse. And with the sketchy disclosure and label laws you don’t have to be told.

Grab yourself a dish of vanilla ice cream, put a few sprinkles on it, and read on…if you dare.

Ammonium sulfate

Ammonium sulfate is most commonly found in fertilizer but may also be found in insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and as a flame retardant. Oh, and it is a dough enhancer in many commercial breads and rolls.


L-cysteine is also known as cysteine. It is made from human hair, duck feathers, pig bristles and hooves, etc. It is a common ingredient in nutritional supplements but also used as a dough enhancer. Find this yumminess in many prepackaged breads including Safeway Brand, King’s Hawaiian Bread, White Castle buns, etc.) This may be listed because it is often used in large enough amounts for it to be required. If you are concerned buy Kosher products. It is considered unclean (DUH!) and cannot be in anything Kosher.

Silicon dioxide

Sand. Silica. Found in cement, space shuttle panels, and your pre- grated cheese. No wonder we weigh more. We have cement in our guts.

Propylene glycol

You may know propylene glycol as anti-freeze; you know, the stuff that you have to be careful that your dog doesn’t lap up when you have a leak? It snuggles in low fat and extra creamy ice creams right next to the beaver butt molecules.


Find methylparaben in many wines, soft drinks, and fruit juice from concentrate… Enjoy it knowing that the additive originates in the vaginas of dogs when they are in heat. Yummers.


Dimethylpolysiloxane is an anticaking agent used in caulk, shampoo, lubricant, heat resistant tiles, and your McDonald’s fries, McNuggets, and powdered diet drinks.

Titanium dioxideT

Titanium dioxide? Sure!  Let me paint my ceiling and then I will slurp some down in skim milk. Why skim milk? Because natural skimmed milk has a weird light blue color (it used to be called blue milk and ONLY fed to pigs back on the farm) and the titanium dioxide makes it an appetizing white. It doesn’t have to be listed on the label..but if you drink skim milk and it isn’t blue…well, you can always use the extra to put a new coat of white on the ceiling.

Microcrystalline cellulose also listed as crystalline cellulose

Merely wood pulp, folks, no need to get alarmed. It adds fiber and can also be used to lure beavers to ice cream plants..


Secretions from the female Lac beetle used to finish wood products…Skittles…and those cute, colored jimmies you sprinkle on your beaver butt ice cream.


A natural red food color derived from crushing thousands of  beetles and boiling them. Also known as cochineal. Best of all it is all natural.

Are there more? Certainly this is a small list.

For those of you who believe that GMOs and High Fructose Corn Syrup are save because the FDA says they are? Enjoy.

AND, finally for those of you who think that the beaver anal gland is an exaggeration? Check it out Safety Assessment of Castoreum Extract as a Food Ingredient So glad that the government found it safe for human consumption.

The only way to step around these items is eating foods that are Kosher. Honestly, I don’t know if some of the above are allowed to be in organic foods or not. I mean..I know cochineal (carmine) is used in organic foods so why not beaver glands?

I know it takes time to research what you eat, to cook fresh foods, and to be informed but it really is important for you health, and for the peace of mind of beavers everywhere.

What I want to know is who grew up and decided they wanted the job removing secretions from the vaginas of dogs? Because that is just weird.

If you need to bleach you brain after reading this.. here is my Triple French Vanilla Ice Cream recipe … anal gland free.


images: SXC

Around the Internet…


  1. Vyne says

    First off thanks to Marye for this incredibly informative blog.we need more like you or else we will remain in a closed box dying slowly without knowing the cause. Second Chad seems like an advocate for these unmerciful creators. I believe he knows the truth but is trying hard to sugar coat to maintain everyone calm and blinded from the truth that’s been causing americans numerous cancer and other diseases. People think about it she is trying to inform people of the awareness with the food industry and anyone who states otherwise clearly know the facts are there but is trying to push you away from the truth. I have soo much to say about the one who’s manipulating us but I would keep it short. Take the time to think “WHY DO PEOPLE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES LIVE LONGER, HEALTHIER, AND HAVE LESS HEALTH ISSUES OR EVEN NOT AT ALL THAN THOSE FROM USA?

    WHAT REALLY CAUSES ASTHMA, CANCER, KIDNEY STONES, CYSTS…ETC? THE ONLY ANSWER SCIENTISTS HAVE IS “HEREDITARY”…. oh really I bet they don’t have an answer for this one “THEN WHY NOONE FROM MY FAMILY HAS EVER HAD ASTHMA THAT CAME FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY (which that particular disease doesn’t exist there) NEVER HAD IT UNTIL I WAS BORN IN THE USA. The US is polluted in many ways never want to take responsibility but to save their own butts they blame it either on society ( the innocent) or “HEREDITARY”

  2. S Foreman says

    It is all very well saying that Kosher food cannot contain some of these unwanted ingredients, but when I look at the Kosher food labels it is obviously so, so unhealthy in other ways! Just have to make our own, I guess. I used to keep a couple of goats so had healthy milk always. But there is nowhere to keep a goat in my small city flat.

    • says

      I don’t think anyone can get completely away from all of the “unhealthy” stuff. What we need to do is be informed, make informed decisions, and limit as much as we can.

  3. renee says

    Pardon the nit-picking, but I do believe that beaver anal glands, and the castoreum (partially urin) sacks are different, and seperate so its beaver PEE, not butt. The point? Urine is naturally sterile, anal gland secretions are not.

  4. MT says

    Two points…

    First, methylparaben is primarily found as a naturally occuring substance on many fruits – such as blueberries. Methylparabens in wine are there b/c they were naturally occuring in the fruit.

    As to the anti-freeze – while propylene glycol can be used as a de-icer, it is not toxic orally in humans. I think you were referring to ethylene glycol, commonly referred to as anti-freeze, which is very toxic to humans.

  5. says

    Interesting post. Definitely makes me want to be more selective about what I eat. Meanwhile, in this article, apparently “5 companies” unanimously said that they don’t use castoreum. ( That being said, the article didn’t list the companies that were interviewed, so in the vanilla flavoring world, I’m not sure how widespread the companies are.

    • marye says

      It is important to make educated choices. castoreum is probably not going to hurt anyone but Americans (especially) need to be more in control of their own eating habits and know what they are eating rather than depend on the government to tell them what to it. It would be nice if we all just grew up, wouldn’t it?

  6. Josh says

    Good day all – So, I’m not usually one that posts on articles that I read, but I felt compelled enough by this article to post. All the arguaing back and forth I believe is fairly moot here. I believe Marye’s point is logical in feeling that we, as humans, should what we are putting into our bodies and where those things are coming from, but the general focus should be on how the indegreints actually affect our bodies, not glorify how “disgusting” it may sound. Ice cream with beaver glands in it, while may not sound that appealing, probably has no negative affects on us, and really, probably adds a minimal amount of proteins, fats, and other naturally occuring items to our diet.
    Also, to Chad’s point, everything in the world is comprised of chemical compounds bonded together. So, whether the checmicals are bonded in nature, or in a lab, really shouldn’t be a main focus (though I certainly agree that not all synthetically created additives are good for us. I would much prefer color additives come from natural sources instead of a chemical reaction to create the desired color – Give my crused bugs any day).
    What I feel this whole debate boils down to is moderation and common sense. Anything in excess, whether synthetic or natural, can be dangerous to our health. We all know that processed foods at fast food restaraunts aren’t the best foods for us, with higher amounts of salt, sugars, fats, and fillers, so it should be common sense as well that eating too much of these types of foods isn’t a good idea. Buy and cook fresh food when you can, but if you are in a pinch and there is a McDonald’s, go ahead and get it, but keep it limited and moderate it. You can buy a Big Mac, but that diet coke isn’t going to do a thing for you. The phosphoric acid in it is a pretty nasty acid, and the artificial sweeteners, while they might be derived froim natural sources, are worse for your diet than actual sugar. Get bottled water instead, and if you want fries, get a small. (Now, I’ll probably get arguers that will say that bottled water isn’t good for you either, and I won’t argue that it’s possible, but it has to be better for you than diet coke).
    By the way, how many of you know that many foods contain carcinogenic chemicals compounds after they are cooked? Cooking and or charring some foods can cause the formation of small quantities of potent carcinogens similar to what is found in cigarettes. Most notable for this is grilled meats and overheated or fried foods high in carbohydrates (i.e french fries).
    So, the take away here in my opinions is yes, there is all sorts of stuff put into our foods, in our bodies, both natural and synthetic, but with a little common sense, allowing for just a bit more time in the kitchen, and some simple moderation, we can enjoy these foods and others with little risk and live health, active lives!!
    Cheers to all!

  7. Chad Gething says

    Honestly, Claudette! Why gag? They are the naturally occuring chemicals found in thyme. Thyme is a lovely herb that I enjoy regularly.

    Pick any food, organically grown, meat, vegan, whatever. Then look up exactly what it is made of. It’ll be a long list of chemicals you probably haven’t heard of, but that doesn’t mean you should be scared of it or that it’s bad. It’s because of blogs like this that sensationalise and inspire fear rather than educate, that people make decisions based entirely on negative emotions and NOT on the facts about the food. Heck, almonds contain cyanide but I love them and eat them regularly. Why? because there is so little cyanide in them that if I was gonna try and kill someone with them, the amount I’d need, it’d be easier to hit them on the head with the bag!

    Food IS chemicals.
    You can’t take chemicals out of food!
    Natural can be just as poisonous as synthetic.
    Don’t just trust this blog, or me, but find out from qualified food experts who have published proper research (not the freaks who buy qualifications like Gillian McKeith and others of her ilk).
    The world has enough problems and dangers, without inventing ones around our food that are complete strangers to the truth.

    Enjoy food!

  8. Claudette Hogan says

    Carvacrol, thymol, cadalene, cineole, myrcene, terpinene, linalool, cymene, rosmarinic acid, monoterpenoids, flavonoid glycosides, phenolic compounds, and polysaccharides are still on the menu at my house! I honestly about gagged.

    • marye says

      Thanks Allison! I am glad you enjoyed it… It was kinda like pouring chocolate sauce over liver so the kids will eat it ! Yeah, the meat of the thing was nasty but enrobed in something delightful.. 😀

  9. John says

    Really? To me it is painfully obvious that Americans are deficient in basic chemistry, physiology and critical thinking education. When Joe public sees “chemical free” produce they think good, I think, “how can you have produce not composed of chemicals?” Heck, propylene glycol bad? Anyone heard of Miralax? A gentle laxative. active ingredient polyethylene glycol. VEGAN! No such thing, next time those of you who choose that diet, take a swab of your “Vegan” meal and have it cultured, I guarantee when stained and examined with a microscope, you will (sans denial) see that you are indeed eating copious quantities of animals. Beaver anal glands? besides prions and rabies who really cares? It still tastes good and the extract is all natural, the same cannot be said of other ingredients.
    Most people hate that there are weird things in their food i.e. preservatives but remember, those methods of preservation were what allowed H. sapiens to migrate and thrive in hostile environs i.e. the states where winters get to the -30s and lower. No fresh fruits or veggies for six months? Just open a jar or can.

    • marye says

      Ah well… we may be deficient in science according to your standards, but… what the hell… We know how to win a revolution, by God. :)

  10. SYS says

    When I was in school we learned about food by visiting a real farm. How ’bout the schools go back to actually educating the students on what they eat? The the kids wouldn’t want to eat beaver butt ice cream, and they just might decide they want real food instead of fake food! Somebody send this article to Michelle O.

  11. says

    OK, for all the ridiculous argumentative responses you got – I have to say – THANK YOU for your post. Personally, I only want to eat what was created as FOOD (by the CREATOR) – beaver glands were not. Yuck. And for that matter, neither is hydrogenated whatever. :-) thanks for sharing your insight.

    • marye says

      Thanks Kendra… Have you seen my new series called, What’s In That? It explores the additives in common foods and give alternative homemade recipes

    • NJ Jen says

      Umm – not to be ridiculously argumentative – but didn’t the Creator create beaver glands when creating said beaver?

  12. Organic Farm Boy says

    One more thing, as a small, grass-fed dairy farmer I can also tell you that when you separate cream from milk, the skimmed milk is an unappealing bluish color. Soured, it is great for fattening hogs. For human consumption, it is fairly worthless since it is nutritionally devitalized.

  13. Chad Gething says

    There are no accusations or assumptions, just facts. You have not answered any in your response, especially about Kosher ingredients (where you were factually incorrect) or the source of the ingredient methylparaben, used as a food additive. The comment about the UK (where Jamie Oliver and I are from) and skimmed milk was just to highlight that there are some differences in food standards between where you live and where I do. Titanium oxide may be approved for use in dairy products but any trip to a supermarket to buy skimmed milk will confirm that it is not added over here and (I add from personal experience) hasn’t been in living memory. Also, I have no idea what your point about Jamie Oliver’s Koolaide is supposed to mean in a factual debate. I merely state and re-assert that Jamie Oliver’s motives may largely be concerned with promoting his TV series and book, rather than pushing a proper understanding of food and food additives.
    Finally, to ask “why humans think they can eat chemicals and continue to be healthy…” is exactly the kind of misinformation I am against. EVERYTHING is made of chemicals. The glucose your body needs is C6H12O6. There are numerous salts vital for life, table salt being NaCl. Proteins are just larger chemical molecules made from amino acids (more chemicals) joined with peptide bonds (more chemicals). Flavour in food is a result of aromatic chemicals, flavinoids etc. The body needs iron, but as you can’t chew on a block of it, you get that from iron-rich chemicals in red-meat or green-vegetables. 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide sounds scary! It should! It’s used in pepper spray and the Indian Police use it in anti-riot grenades… But, if you like chili, then you are eating naturally occuring 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide as that is what gives it a kick! The harmless herb, thyme, has a wonderful flavour, made by the chemicals carvacrol, thymol, cadalene, cineole, myrcene, terpinene, linalool, cymene, rosmarinic acid, monoterpenoids, flavonoid glycosides, phenolic compounds, and polysaccharides. Yes, thyme contains something “chemically similar” to turpentine! Chemically similar is, of course, a pointless phrase as it relates to a molecules composition and NOT its effects or toxicity. If you simply break down ANY food into a list of its chemical constituents, it will sound like a degree thesis in chemical engineering! And of course, some chemicals naturally occuring in foods will have other useful applications. Formaldehyde is naturally produced in the body as a result of digestion and especially when breaking down alcohol – it is also great for pickling sharks and selling them as works of art (as Damien Hurst found) BUT in vastly differing quantities. I’m sorry if you think I’m stupid for pointing this out but it does not help educate by quoting a chemical and giving a few non-food related uses to scare people. Also, as I hope I have demonstrated, I have done my research and I am not pushing any opinion with regard to eating organic, Kosher, Halal, processed, vegan or anything. All I want is for there to be genuine education and NOT scaremongering which results in a distrust of science including the lack of understanding of chemicals as you have demonstrated AND, in a worst-case scenario, someone comprimising their health by ceasing to eat something that is completely healthy as a result of fear.
    Carvacrol, thymol, cadalene, cineole, myrcene, terpinene, linalool, cymene, rosmarinic acid, monoterpenoids, flavonoid glycosides, phenolic compounds, and polysaccharides are still on the menu at my house!

  14. Chad Gething says

    There is a big difference between “educating people” and “alarmist misinformation”.
    Regarding methylparaben, you state that the additive originates in the vaginas of dogs. It does not. It may be found in dog’s vaginas and may have originally been sourced there for perfumes, many years ago, but it has been synthetically produced for decades. Mythlparaben found in wines occurs naturally in the fruit. The FDA approval list is absolutely not descriptive of where a company sources their ingredients; rather it covers all bases as to where someone may obtain a certain foodstuff or additive. It may be legal to get it from a dog’s vagina, but that does not mean a food company does! Is it REALLY the easiest and most cost efficient way for a company to obtain methylparaben? No. It isn’t. And just a tiny bit of time on Google would have told you that IF that’s what you wanted to find out. L-cysteine is available in Kosher foods because it can be easily manufactured without the need to extract it from any animal (likewise methylparaben and propylene glycol) so your belief that going Kosher is the safest way is therefore not based on facts. This kind of deliberate misinformation leads to an unecessary distrust of “science” and “government”. If you really want people to educate themselves, you could leave out the sensationalist nonsense and concentrate on the facts, post relevant links and encourage people to research for themselves. Also, Jamie Oliver went to America from the UK (where we don’t add Titanium dioxide to our skimmed milk) to make money – not to educate you all about food. He is not a food scientist. He is not even a scientifically minded chef like Heston Blumenthal.
    One final thing, castoreum is also used to improve the flavour of cigarettes – maybe a reason to quit smoking?

    • marye says

      Chad, first of all I haven’t sipped any of Jamie Oliver’s Koolaide. So lets get that straight.. Second this is an issue that I have been fighting for 30 years..watching more and more stupidity happen in the food system and being frustrated with watching the avalanche.
      Third.. titanium dioxide has nothing to do with England. I haven’t even heard Jamie say anything about it. It has been added to dairy and cottage cheese products for years.. Frankly, although I don’t like it ..(carcinogenic) I prefer that to GMOs. Here is a PDF file you may want to read. I believe the list of dairy products it is found in is on page 7.

      Fourth… There was a food revolution long before Jamie Oliver was born. Hopefully it will gain momentum. I don’t care what you eat..just educate yourself about it. Why humans think that they can eat chemicals and continue to be healthy is beyond me. People who eat crap have crappy health. They would rather take medication to keep their blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and obesity in check that simply eat real food. Don’t come to my blog and make unfounded accusations and assumptions…. disagree if you want but do it with respect. And you check the FDA websites for yourself.. put the hours in it that I have..and then come tell me I am wrong.
      I am SO not in the mood for stupidity tonight

  15. Dina G. says

    I’m pregnant and have been craving … you guessed it … bever butt. In the last 4 months, I’ve eaten 3 gallons of Blue Bell Vanilla Beaver Butt Ice Cream. Now, I’m disgusted. “Blue Bell tates just like the good ol’ days?” I guess we know what the gold ol’ days tasted like, huh?

  16. says

    Well, “huntin beaver” can now be an official answer from me when my husband asks me where I am going when I step out the door to go to the grocery store.


  17. Kevin says

    If you think whats intentional put into our food is bad you should research some of the things our government thinks is ok for our food to come into contact with. Im sorry I dont have time to give exact numbers but there are certain amounts of cockroaches or mice feces that are allowed to be in your cereal box. Lots of other strange things too but Im off to work.

  18. Sarah says

    My Gosh!!! I can’t believe that. I honestly about gagged. And Yes, I too read labels every once in a while, to just disguard them and cross my fingers not knowing what in the world they are!!! LOL
    I thought your post was very informative and and intriguingly hilarious. I would love to read more of your blog. And not really sure why everyone has to get so technical and argumentative,… especially when what you said is close if not precise on fact. Definitely increased the humor level reading the posts tho ! Kudos.

    • marye says

      Thanks Sarah… I appreciate it! I wasn’t up for another argument to night so you get the final brownie points of the evening. Hope you enjoy the rest of the blog.

  19. Sharon says

    All I can say is thank GOD I live down the road from a dairy farm. That my friend raises all our beef and pork. That all bread in my house, I make my self. And that we gave up eating prepackaged dessert goodies and meal components last year!! OH, and that I garden. Whew. No beaver butt ice cream here!!! LOL

  20. eFV says

    Thanks for this wonderfully informative and humorous take on this topic. So many times I read the labels and don’t even know what these things are. The ones I never heard of just assumed and hoped they weren’t that bad, but this is disgusting! Now I can look out for more than the usual suspects such as high fructose corn syrup, aluminum, mono dyglycerides/partially hydrogenated oils and red 40 that many still do not even know to look out for. My new rule has been if the ingredients list is longer than a paragraph, I don’t want it. Sad that even organic is not good too. I also read that organic canned foods have are lined with a terrible toxic chemicals found in plastic bottles too. They are in all canned foods. There are only a handful that don’t use.
    Thanks again.

  21. Marc says

    A quick search online tells me that “Methylparaben is extracted from the benzoic acid that is derived from benzoin tree gum” not the vagina of dogs as you say.

    Read more: What is Methylparaben? |

    Also some of you arguments work just as well when you replace the chemicals with water. For example…. Water is commonly found in fertilizer but may also be found in insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and as a flame retardant. Oh, and it is a dough enhancer in many commercial breads and rolls.

    :::blog author edited out copied material::::::

    • marye says

      But that is the point isn’t it? Methyl paraben is used as a pheremone in perfumes, it is allowed only in a 25% portion in cosmetics…it is a form of estrogen and at one time it was sourced from bitches in heat. Is it still? I have no clue but the FDA allows it. My point in this has not been to argue about each additive but that Americans need to be aware of WHAT they are actually eating. If you want to eat those things? Knock yourself out.. I heartily support your freedom to do so..BUT do it with the knowledge of what you are eating. With girls reaching puberty at increasingly young ages it is time to question additives…especially estrogen like additves.
      I have to check what you wrote on google..if it is copied from a page I will have to delete it… But I wanted you to know WHY I was deleting it. If it’s your own then I will leave it up…

      • terry pride says

        the ‘dihydrogen monoxide’ piece is, i believe, a part of a larger article that includes a petition to ban di-H-mono-O.
        it is a well-known web-article, altho i have no idea if Marc is the author.

  22. Lisa says

    Ummmm…..agree to disagree .

    Yes the chemical compounds may be the same, but to say we are actually consuming a beavers butthole or the yeast of your horny dogs vag is a little presumptuous. Methylparaben is produced naturally and found in several fruits, primarily blueberries, along with other parabens. When used in the making of wine it is found naturally on the fruit…if the yeast dies the wine must to be inoculated. At that time “foreign” yeast is added, and sometimes it is a synthetic version of the naturally present Methylparaben. The yeast is necessary for the fermentation process in any alcohol but especially dry wine. And even when your buying organic whole grapes your likely consuming Methylparaben.
    I am not saying it is right or wrong, all I am saying is no one is chopping up beavers to harvest their colons. Or in the case of Red Bull, milking a raging bull for it’s happy load then putting it in an energy drink. It’s a chemical compound.

  23. Lisa says

    Along the same vein of consumer awareness and responsibility, try this to test your willpower and get an eye-opening view into our personal and cultural habits:
    Go label-less for a week. And I’m not talking food w/ the wrappers removed, but the whole skinny (literally): nothing processed, refined, packed, mixed, or requiring a label. It’s not easy in this country! We’re pretty much left to fresh local produce, fish and meat . But even then, what’s hidden in the production & processing from plant and animal to consumer that we don’t know about?

    Also, great piece from TEDxAustin:
    Author and food analyst Robyn O’Brien, who authored “The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It” :

    I truly believe it’s up to the individual to start the change. After all it’s our lives, and our choices in how vibrantly alive and healthy we want to live.

  24. M.E. says

    Thanks for your posting. I am sickened by the quality (or lack thereof) of food in the USA. I lived for many years in SE Asia, eating like a local – most have never even seen food in a box or can. Most people in SE Asia live w/o a fridge (as have I), which requires daily shopping and cooking. In the USA I can’t find REAL food (ie. fresh and natural). Food here is tasteless, over processed, filled with chemicals and additives, complicated, and it is very difficult to know if it is truly vegetarian (important to me). I didn’t know about the beaver glands…looks like I’ll now be going ‘cold turkey’ re. ice cream.

    • marye says

      Well, my guess is that you wont find those odd things in Kosher foods or organic foods. You should be safe with either. Good luck

  25. Chelsea Clark says

    What a great discussion! I would just like to point out that placing the responsibility entirely on consumers to become educated enough to make good choices isn’t exactly fair. Our food system is so complicated! We need to put more of the responsibility on the companies with better labeling laws and do a whole lot less enabling of this crazy food system with farm subsidies. It is my fervent wish that the economics of food would more accurately reflect the ecology of producing that food, so that food produced sanely and locally would actually cost less than high-tech, bioengineered food from far-flung lands. AND the psychology of food would follow. Eating closer to the source (from a geographic standpoint AND a whole-vs.-processed standpoint) is pretty much always the safer and saner choice.

    • marye says

      Chelsea I understand what you are saying re: government responsibility, however.. do you remember the old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself”? As long as people depend on government for anything they are going to be unable to control their own lives. Government should be a resource…

  26. says

    Thanks for trying to keep us informed and entertained. I enjoyed the spirit of this post. I would simply point out (as others have done much more specifically) that things some people find gross (inexplicably to me, as I grew up eating all kinds of things, all around the world) are not necessarily dangerous. For example, while I’d prefer no added color, if color were added, I would personally prefer an insect extract than Red #5. And I’ve never understood what makes eating some parts of animals OK, e.g., large muscles, and other parts somehow disgusting, e.g., organs, glands, etc. It seems to me to be more responsible, and more respectful of the animal whose life you have taken to sustain you, to be a head-t0-tail eater.

    • marye says

      Jim- again..the point of the post was to jump start people into educating themselves. I know you..and I know you are informed about your food. I have realized over the past few months that most people really never think about what they might be eating. Sometimes it takes a little jump start to get them thinking.
      Me? I don’t mind natural food colors either. But I KNOW what I am eating. I know black pasta has squid ink in it..that natural red dye has been made from beetles for years.. etc. So many people just are apathetic until you shock them a little. That’s all.

      • says

        I agree with you, and thank you for doing that. We try to do the same thing over at our coffee blog (can I leave a link?)
        In addition to thinking about the ingredients themselves (critically important), we encourage our customers to think about the types of businesses they want to support. We realize it’s more trouble many times to buy from a small local supplier. But ask yourself which businesses you would miss if they went away, and shop there.

    • says

      Jim-I have to agree with you on the dye. I have a friend whose son is “sensitive” to red and yellow synthetic dyes, and the kid acts like he’s done some kind of meth or speed when he has it. If I were her I’d rather feed him beetle shells too!

  27. Toxicologist says

    Sorry for the double-post: I meant “milk” not “mice” with the TiO2 comment…mea culpa

  28. Toxicologist says

    Um, several clarifications, a few of which were introduced above so I won’t repeat them.
    L-cysteine is natural; everyone either consumes enough of it, or you synthesize it from L-methionine, which you also must consume. Deficiencies in both would be lethal. That’s why it’s in human hair, incidentally, because we eat or make it. Also, the historical sources of these compounds are not necessarily the source used today. Alabama cotton used to be harvested almost exclusively by slave-labor…does that mean that cotton fields are still hand-harvested by slaves? No. L-cysteine was originally harvested from such animal sources, but no longer. Now, it is produced by bacterial fermentation, and is also a minor product of yeast fermentation, and is responsible for some of gluten-crosslinking that makes levened bread so tasty. Also, L-cysteine harvest from bacterial fermentation is considered Kosher, since their law considers the source of the amino acid in this determination, not the amino acid itself.
    Ammonium sulfate is a salt; there are probably numerous salts including chromium salts in all processed foods, either intentional or not. It could be also added as a preservative, no doubt.
    Metylparaben is a commonly occuring antifungal, also found in fruits like blueberries. I doubt the berries get their methylparaben from dog bits. I also doubt that dogs are a commerically viable source of this compound, since fairly cheap to synthesize chemically. From benzene, no doubt. Which is also not how blueberries make it.
    The bettle compounds we’ve been eating for thousands of years, although probably not these specific versions in these quantities. But…what about skittles looks natural?? No mention of the carcinogenic dyes used in these candies, but the trace TiO2 in mice is a cause for concern? Lastly, the castoreum: gross? Sure, I guess. But, did you know or do you know now any women on hormone replacement therapy? Premarin used to be administered to replace estrogen production in post-menopause women, though I doubt it’s used any longer. Premarin = pregnant mare urine, which is high in horse estrogen. Horse estrogen isn’t as efficient in stimulating human estrogen receptor as the human version, so they exclusively used the urine from pregnant mares, since levels were much higher. That’s just one of thousands of pharmaceuticals isolated from plants/animals that we typically wouldn’t want to consume.
    So, what’s the take-home? Know what you eat, absolutely! But…understand that many additives in foods (or enhancers) are there because you (the consumer) demand that the foods be shelf-stable for weeks-months, so that they can be transported from gods-know-where, and then sit in a grocery store until you feel ready to buy it. Like someone else mentioned, if the thought of beaver-glands in your ice creams sickens you, then make some (ice cream) yourself this weekend! Likewise for bread, candy, etc.
    There are plenty of nasty chemicals in lotions, creams, medicine and even some foods that you can better spend your time fretting over (DMDM-hydantoin, and other formaldehyde-releasing “preservatives” come to mind). The pesticides used in commerical agriculture? Even the “organic” ones can be quite toxic, but without them…we’d starve.
    P.S., I do not work for the FDA or any industry or federal regulatory agency, and I do appreciate your efforts.

    • marye says

      AH.. but these items…feathers and hair…are still listed as being acceptable on the FDA website.. and if they are cheaper than the chemical version you can bet that companies are using them… or do you just trust the ethics of random companies?

    • Farm Girl says

      THANK YOU! Great to hear both sides of the story. Yes we need to be aware of what we eat, but it is not all death and disease, and I love your comment on organics! We would starve if we all went organic and fertilizer free. I think we are all working towards healthier, sustainable food production, but lets be educated about what is really going on out there, good and bad!

      • Organic Farm Boy says

        With all due respect, you need to do your research “Farm Girl”. Chemical/industrial farming and corporate food politics are what cause mass starvation and should we continue to deplete topsoils with petroleum-laden fertilizers and pesticides, you are likely to see more. Biologically based farming not synthetic chemically-based farming is what can and will sustain soils and healthy plant production, both for human consumption and animal forage. The wise farmer is the one who observes Nature’s ways and humbly submits himself or herself to mimicking them without artificial short-term crutches as a substitute for bad land management. Incidentally, the author was talking about processed foods made from “organic” certified ingredients not organic farming. Nobody is here to suggest that processed foods are healthy. Besides, most of the brands found in “health food” stores have been purchased by big conglomerate processed-food corporations such as Kraft, General Mills, Pepsi, Kelloggs, et al. Understand that their corporate agenda is not to provide you with the healthiest, most sustainably produced food possible. Understand too, that these are the same companies whose paid lobbyists work to water down the USDA certified organic standards. Finally, organic farmers are very concerned with soil fertility. We use Nature’s fertilizers such as compost, soil-building cover crops and mulches to name a few.

        • dave says

          I am glad there are organic farmers in this country and wish there were more. That being said, I am going to play devil’s advocate here. An argument could be made that organic farming is not necessarily healthy either. If we take your statement for instance… “We use Nature’s fertilizers such as compost, soil-building cover crops and mulches to name a few”,
          we could sensationalize it to read that you use rotting vegetable matter and moldy, leftover food products to speed growth and production of your food. It doesn’t sound as wholesome as compost, but when put into the same context it doesn’t sound so great either. There have been accusations that some of our local farmers have used human excremet as a fertilizer and sold the veggies at the farmers market causing several people to become sick. The main problem with “articles” like these is how they stretch the truth to make a point.
          Take the article with a grain of salt, sea salt of course.

  29. amy says

    Actually, propylene glycol is NOT the toxic antifreeze that you are referencing – that stuff is ethylene glycol. Different molecular structure = COMPLETELY different substance!!! Just sayin’… check your facts!

    • marye says

      I try to always check my facts, Amy.
      Ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are chemically similar. Ethylene glycol has the chemical formula C2H6O2. Propylene has the chemical formula C3H8O2. Ethylene glycol has a slightly higher boiling point than propylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is less expensive to produce and is more widely used. Propylene glycol is less toxic.

      • amy says

        I know that they are chemically similar, but they are not the same exact thing. Ethylene glycol is the chemical responsible for pet deaths due to antifreeze leaks.

        • marye says

          I am only going by what is said on the various websites Amy..and apparently BOTH are used as antifreeze…chemically similar or not.

          • amy says

            Absolutely true, they are both used as antifreeze. I’ll lay off now – just pointing out that the chemical used in foods is not the same chemical that you have to keep away from animals for fear of death.

          • marye says

            Amy.. I know it is.. it is also used as anti freeze. Re: the links that I posted below.

          • aaron says

            No one argued that propylene glycol isn’t anti-freeze…the point was that it’s not the stuff you have to be careful to not let your dog lap up like you mentioned in your blog. Additionally, many of these products are now lab-synthesized and not collected from the vaginas of dogs or anal glands of beavers like a chef (who is clearly a science expert…) would lead you to believe. The bottom line is, anything we eat is gross if you think about it long enough. Why are the anal gland excretions of a beaver or the shells of beetles disgusting, but people will drink the mammary gland secretions of cows or eat buckets of shrimp and crayfish and not think twice? Sensationalism might get you attention, but it doesn’t gain you credibility.

          • marye says

            The point, aaron, that you have missed…is that people choose foods without thinking, without educating themselves, without questioning what goes in it. Much like arsenic being added to milk in the late 1800s.
            Sure we eat gross stuff… but rather than trusting the government to protect us we need to take personal responsibility for what we put in our mouths…whether those things are additives, GMOs, HFCS, or chocolate covered ants.

          • ColonelElfye says

            Here’s the distinction: Propylene Glycol is used as anti-freeze in situations where it could end up back in the soil or the water system because it is non-toxic but also has cooling capabilities. There are several “facts” here that are questionable or simply stated in a very exaggerated or skewed way to make them seem more gross. The link you posted about the dog’s vagina stuff, it also states that the same stuff is found naturally in blueberries. Are you going to stop eating blueberries because they share that?

          • marye says

            I checked the FDA website… Those things ARE allowed. The question is what origin is the most inexpensive? Now, it may well be found naturally in blueberries but in corporate America which one will be used…the inexpensive version or the expensive one? Lets also assume that an artificial chemical version is now being used. Is that something I want to eat?
            The fact of the matter is that people are eating stuff that they are unaware of. It is easier to drink the artificially flavored KoolAid than to educate yourself on what you are eating. GMOs, HFCS, weird additives, toxins…. choosing to eat this things is one thing…eating them because you are uneducated about it is something else..

          • Andy says

            Is it really that amazing to you that things which are consumable as food can have non-food uses? Salt can be used as antifreeze too you know (I throw it on my driveway every winter).

        • Chris says

          I have to agree with you Amy, while I’m the same, I know of the bad things put in our food, but it is EVERYWHERE, unless you can harvest your own food. Since most can’t everything you think is fresh isn’t and lots of things we never read is in our food.

          But I agree with the fact that chemicals are different, the natural things like bugs and what not even the anuses I don’t have a problem with. (I figure the beaver is being used for something dies and the only thing left is an anus, so someone said “hey let’s not throw it away, maybe there is some use for this” which to me is more humane to an animal than simply throwing pieces of him away after you’re done “eating.”

          Anyways, off on a tangent, it’s a dangerous thing to throw around molecules and chemicals, not knowing their full extent except from the internet. Alot of the other chemicals you mention like ammonia sulfate, that are used for many purposes once in solution break down into different chemicals which do different things. That changes the entire dynamic of the system.

          So all I’m saying really is that something you do everyday multiple times a day is something no one truly pays attention to, and is the one thing that determines our ultimate health.

      • Acid says

        Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are seperated by one oxygen atom. One is completely harmless the other is completely deadly. Chemically similar means nothing. And btw propyene glycol is harmless.

        • Gretchen says

          I disagree, I am highly allergic to propylene glycol if it touches my skin, so it’s *really* bad for me to ingest.

        • JJ says

          UMMMMMMM…….Im fairly sure that both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide can be deadly at a certain concentration in an environment, just sayin

          • marye says

            The point is… for everyone… that you need to know what you are eating and decide for yourself if you want to ingest it – because not everything IN food is natural TO food anymore. That’s all. If you want to eat beaver anal gland extracts and in powdered form – well go for it. At least take the time to do your due diligence and know what you are eating.

        • MichaelC says

          Show me the studies where it shows propyene glycol is harmless to ingest long term. The only studies done were to see if it would harm you short term. Does it cause cancer long term? Organ Damage? We don’t know because they didn’t do a study on it yet it’s in food. It is among the other 80,000 chemicals in our products that have not had real testing.

  30. says

    i wouldn’t be bothered so much about silica, i believe it is inert in our bodies and we cant really process it. Why do they use it it’s another deal…
    For Carmine and Shellac I wouldn’t consider them as “additive” since they have not been introduced in food in modern era, actually they date pretty back in time (shellac is also used to give shine and protect many sugarpaste works for instance).
    I knew of the feather things, probably that’s why many bread rolls are so light ehn? 😉 (P.S. I heard it is used to enhance freshly baked bread aroma, might be wrong…).

    Thanks for the heads up Marye, didn’t know I was eating beaver :S yuck! LOL

    • marye says

      I know..the thing is so many people just don’t know…I knew about everything except the beaver, dog pheromones, and…um…maybe one other thing..but still…it is important to be informed.

    • Jbenson says

      You can get a HEALTHY form of silica in the herb Horsetail…I don’t think I want to put this form in my body at all…. Silica Good…Silica DIOXIDE NOT… :)

  31. Missy Moran says

    And I thought that the day I learned there was seaweed in ice cream was a bad day….Sea weed, is apparently the least of it. 😀

    • Kane says

      What is wrong with seaweed? It is an awesome source of iodine ,Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.

      • Jason says

        I wouldn’t sell beaver glands so short. With a little hot sauce, who knows. Besides, it’s all just blended in to the ice cream and it’s perfectly natural. Our ancestors from >2000 years ago, probably age beaver butt, and beetles on the regular. Not so sure about some of those chemicals with more than three syllables though. Probably not so healthy.

  32. Monica says

    well, I’m not hungry any more…. bleh… I’m also glad that I’ve worked on eating more home made items…. but I think I need to step it up… :-P~~~

    • marye says

      Sigh… my kids and husband had “JUST” about had me convinced to take it a little easy with worrying about food sources..and to relax and eat more convenience foods…

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