I’m a label reader.  I didn’t used to be that way but when I discovered (the hard way) that my son had a pretty severe dairy sensitivity, it resulted in me having to read the ingredient labels of EVERYTHING I put into my mouth. Because I was nursing, I had to remove not only milk, but every milk derivative (casein, anything with “lact…”, whey) along with beef from MY diet because the trace proteins would pass through the breastmilk. If I missed something and inadvertently ate something that had some dairy derivative in it, I would most definitely be sorry about it. Therefore, I spent the first several months of my son’s life learning what the “scientific” names of various ingredients really are…and all I can say is, I wish I hadn’t.

Ignorance is bliss. When you start to realize what things really are, the ick factor really takes over. I’m not talking about “health food” objections to ingredients like chemical derivatives or other things that might be bad for you; I’m talking about realizing that something that you’re eating is just…WEIRD and YUCKY. I, in particular, am a very picky eater who is completely squeamish about pretty much everything – I was a total nightmare for my mom as a kid. I barely eat meat for a variety of reasons and while I do eat dairy (cheese), if I really thought about it more, I’d probably eliminate that from my diet too.

I might as well just crawl into a dark hole…

Last night, I treated my kids to ice cream (my son has “outgrown” the dairy sensitivity enough that he can have an occasional treat) – vanilla with chocolate chips, to be exact. I watched them spoon giant, messy spoonfuls into their mouths and I decided I that wanted some, too. Then, out of pure habit, I glanced at the ingredients…

Natural vanilla flavor

…code phrase for BEAVER BUTT JUICE…

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll let you in on this and let you look up the rest on your own. Some vanilla flavorings labelled as “natural” are derived from Castoreum which is a secretion from a beaver’s anal glands…AKA “BEAVER BUTT JUICE”!!! In nature, these secretions are used to mark a beaver’s territory. In the food world, the secretions are used to make your ice cream, cookies, and yogurt oh-so-tasty. Admittedly, usage is low because the cost is relatively high, but if you are into natural foods, the probability of you consuming beaver butt juice is high enough that you’ve probably had it more than once.

Aren’t you salivating now?? Mmmm, yummy, yummy!!!

My question in all of this is WHO THOUGHT TO TASTE BUTT JUICE to realize that it tastes like vanilla?? Was there a vet somewhere who had his finger’s in a beaver’s butt who then decided to sniff his/her fingers and subsequently decided to taste it? Was it a rustic pet owner??  A zookeeper?? I mean, how do these things end up in our food in the first place??

There are a lot of other squeam-inducing other ingredients, of which I won’t get into the gory details here – you can search “foods you don’t want to know about” on the Internet – but I will give you some hints if you are really curious (search at your own risk)! There are the obvious ingredients like lanolin (which is not only found in your beauty products, but also in some gum) and that is easily recognizable. There’s also the less obvious like: L-CYSTEINE, and CARMINIC ACID (AKA: Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470 or E120).

Ugh. Next time I post, I might just be writing my post from my little dark hole or from some remote island somewhere where I choose to live solely off coconuts. Yes, I am being a bit immature about this and I might as well be back in elementary school again but I can’t help it…I am easily grossed out.

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