We all care about what we put in our bodies, but most of the time, we don’t even know what actually goes into the food we eat. And while some foods might taste great, you would probably never willingly eat any of it if you knew half of the stuff it’s made with. So, while this might affect your day-to-day food routine, knowledge is power. So here are 10 Foods You’ll Never Eat Again Once You Know What They’re Made Of.
Many of us have fond memories of Jell-O from our childhood – and from pretty much every all-you-can-eat buffet we have ever been to. That jiggly, gelatinous delight has soothed and comforted us for decades. But did you know what the primary ingredient in Jell-O, is gelatin? Ok, you probably did. However, do you know what gelatin is made of? And this is where things get less palatable. To make gelatin, you need to boil the bones and hides of pigs and cows and then dry them. Off to a great start already. Then you take that dried stuff, treat it, and filter it to remove the collagen. Then the collagen is dried and ground up and there you have it… gelatin. You know, if it was just all the sugar and artificial colors and flavors, we could totally continue enjoying spoonfuls of Jell-O without hesitation or regret. However, the idea of eating ground-up animal bones just puts the “O no” in Jell-O. And given that it’s the first ingredient on the list, right there on the side of the box, it looks like it’s mostly what we’re eating. And for all you vegetarians out there, if you didn’t already know, Jell-O is obviously not a vegetarian-friendly dessert option. Because, you know, it’s animal bones and hides. Bowl of Jello-O, anyone?
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that honey comes from bees. We all learned that in the third grade and most of us have probably never given it a second thought as we spread it lovingly all over our toast or mix a spoonful into our cup of tea. However, do you really understand the process behind the honey production from our buzzing little yellow and black striped friends? The yummy sweet stuff is actually the product of, what some might refer to as bee vomit! Honey is such a huge aspect of their lives that bees are equipped with a whole other stomach just for its production. This “honey stomach” stores all of the flower nectar that the bees collect. Then, when it’s time (or maybe after a party-filled Saturday night) the bee regurgitates it for harvest, and this becomes what we call, honey. Honey has been shown to have some pretty nice health and healing benefits, so we are definitely not telling you to stop eating it. However, we also understand if you feel the need to take a little break from the sweet nectar and process the fact that we are all basically eating bee barf. We also understand it might cause you to look at the Honey Nut Cheerios mascot, “Buzz the Bee” a little differently.
8. Worcestershire Sauce
Compared to most of the other items on this list, Worcestershire sauce might not seem too bad. Unless you have a problem with fermented anchovies! And we’re not talking slightly fermented here. We’re talking fermented over the course of 18 long months. You see, Lea and Perrins, the two chemists that are most associated with the sauce, discovered the delicious recipe somewhat by accident. When one of their attempts didn’t turn out as they’d hoped, they put it in the cellar to get rid of it. However, when they came back months later and gave it another taste before throwing it out, they found that it had mellowed into something quite tasty. Why would they taste something that had been in a ceiling for months? Who knows, but hey it paid off! From that point on, every bottle of their world-famous Worcestershire sauce contained long-fermented anchovies (as well as the molasses, onions, and all of the other spices). The good news is that anchovies contain many vitamins and minerals, including all the important Omega-3 fatty acids that are key in promoting strong heart and brain health. They also have selenium, which can help reduce the risk of some cancers, if eaten regularly. So, although it might sound a little gross, if you can get past this, you can keep enjoying Worcestershire Sauce with a clear conscience. Ironic how the one ingredient that almost everyone begs to not have on their pizza is the same ingredient that makes Worcestershire sauce the perfection that it is. So in this case, don’t hold the anchovies!
7. Shredded Cheese
Those bags of pre-shredded cheese at the grocery store are definitely convenient and a time saver. However, after you find out what’s actually in that bag of cheese, we think you may want to spend those few extra minutes shredding and grating cheese yourself when needed rather than going for the quick pre-shredded stuff. Have you ever asked yourself why shredded cheese in bags doesn’t clump up like it does when you do it yourself at home? Well, the reason is wood pulp! That’s right, many companies use cellulose (wood pulp) to coat the pieces of cheese, which blocks out the moisture that causes the pieces to clump. The good news, if there is any, is that cellulose is actually totally safe and legal. The bad news is you’re paying for an amount of cheese that you actually aren’t getting. This was such a problem at one point that one company was sued for using the stuff and not indicating the fact on the ingredient list. Companies love using “filler” and when it is as cheap as cellulose, it’s even better for their bottom line. But the real bottom line is that we should all stop being lazy and just buy bricks of cheese – without any filler – and grate it ourselves. Yes, it takes a bit more time but, at least we know it’s wood pulp-free.
If you are a vegetarian who loves beer you might want to pay close attention to this one. After we tell you what’s in the beer you’ve been drinking, you may be faced with a moral dilemma next time you reach for a delicious cold one to go with your veggie nachos. The ingredient in question we will be discussing here is called isinglass. It’s used to clarify the beer and most brewers love using it because it goes almost totally incognito. It does the job well without adding any distinct smell or taste to the final product. Sounds like a miracle ingredient, right? Well, it may be so, depending on what your definition of a miracle is. It’s also a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish. While vegetarians may be able to Jedi-mind-trick themselves into making an exception for beer, vegans would basically have to go against their whole ideology in order to continue drinking the stuff. However, there is some good news for them – and for anyone else who might be turned off by the thought of their beer being, as one brewer put it, “filtered through a dead fish.” The good news is that there are brewers out there finding different ways to clarify their brews without using isinglass. You might have to do a little searching to find them, but they do exist. And they might just be the reason you don’t have to give up on beer.
5. Caesar Salad
Relax, nothing is actually wrong with your Cesear Salad. There aren’t any weird added chemicals or preservatives that make it taste so good. You’re all good in that department. However, most people probably aren’t aware that there is fish in their Caesar salad. Or to be more precise, there is fish in their Caesar salad dressing. The basic salad part of the dish is pretty simple: lettuce, croutons, and parmesan cheese. No fish there. But then we get to the dressing and that’s where things, for some people, get a little gross. That wonderful, bright flavor that makes Caesar dressing stand out from the crowd is derived from two ingredients: Worcestershire sauce and… Anchovies. For some of us, we can get past the use of anchovies because the stuff is so good. However, for any vegetarians and vegans out there, this makes Caesar salad with dressing a no-go from now on (and there’s really no point in eating a Caesar salad without dressing, right?). Also, anyone with a fish allergy may need to avoid this delicious dish. And if you’ve ever tried making Caesar dressing at home and couldn’t figure out why it doesn’t taste as good as what you get at a restaurant (or from the jar you bought at the grocery store), now you know! Next time you make it, don’t forget the anchovies.
If you’ve spent any time in the supplement aisle at your local grocery store, then you’ve probably seen the words “whey protein” on countless giant buckets of powders. You’ve probably also seen the muscle-bound regulars at the gym scoop the stuff into their water bottles and drink it down before and after their workouts or ingest it in the form of a protein bar that they take bites of between bench press sets. Whey protein is one of the most popular protein supplements out there. But what is it really? Well, how do you feel about curdled milk? When milk curdles in your fridge you probably give it a sniff and immediately throw it out. – or if you’re brave enough, you take a sip, just to see. You see, whey is actually the watery part of the milk, the stuff that’s leftover after the milk curdles. This also means that if you are lactose-intolerant, whey protein is probably not going to sit well with you – something that you may have already found out under unfortunate circumstances. However, for you and for all of us who would rather not ingest post-curdled milk byproducts – but are still looking to up your protein intake – there are pea-based proteins out there that would appear to be a much better choice. “A little green never killed nobody”, right?
3. Pre-Packaged Bread
You know how we sometimes say: the best thing since sliced bread? Turns out, sometimes, sliced bread itself isn’t “the best thing”. Have you ever tried to eat your hair? Like not chew on it but actually eat it? No? Who would eat hair you say? In fact, if you found a hair in your food at a restaurant you would probably send it back, right? Well, if you’ve ever eaten pre-packaged bread, then not only have you most likely eaten hair, but you’ve eaten someone else’s hair – which is honestly 10 times worse. The reason for this is a little something called L-cysteine. L-cysteine is used to condition dough in large-scale commercial bakeries and is usually made from hair – often hair clipping from Chinese hair salons. The clippings are dissolved in acid, the L-cysteine is removed and shipped off to commercial bakeries. Now, we should mention that L-cysteine isn’t always derived from human hair. But before you get all relieved, allow us to inform you that sometimes, it’s made from duck feathers or even cow horns or pig bristles – not much better is it? Commercial bakeries often also use processed flour and other less “clean” ingredients (which is also why their bread has much later expiration dates than the fresh bread you buy from a local bakery). But, not wanting to eat hair sounds like a good enough reason to steer clear from the pre-packaged stuff and visit your local bakery instead.
2. Diet Soda
Very few people actually choose diet soda over regular soda because of the taste. Most people make the choice to consume a diet version of cola because of the “diet” aspect of the drink. And on the surface, that would seem like a wise choice. But is it really? The answer is… probably not. And the reason is Aspartame. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that’s been used for decades to replace sugar in “sugar-free” products like gum and diet soda. There was a time when aspartame was said to be a carcinogen and that, rightly so, scared many people away from anything that contained the additive. However, further research has shown no link between aspartame and cancer. So, that’s the good news. The bad news is, it probably isn’t helping your diet either. Research in the last decade has looked at how aspartame reacts in the gut and found was that it blocks a protein called intestinal alkaline phosphatase, or IAP. IAP helps you burn fat by regulating the body’s metabolism. Well, if that IAP is being blocked from doing its job then the “diet” aspect of that Diet Coke you’re drinking is not going to have any real purpose and might actually be hurting your weight loss goals. So, if you really want to indulge in a sugary soda drink, might as well go for the real deal, at least you’ll get the good taste.
1. Natural Flavors or Beaver What??!
You might think that the best way to get something to taste like strawberries or raspberries is to use actual strawberries and raspberries. That just seems logical. And while the actual fruit is often used, there’s something else that companies use more often than not to enhance that flavor. Its technical term is Castoreum, but you might know it as the “natural flavors” label that’s often found on your food packaging. And the more scientific-oriented people might have already figured out what Castoreum means… Beaver Butt! As funny as it might be to say “beaver butt” we aren’t kidding when we tell you that, for 80 years, the food industry has been adding the butt secretions from beavers to various products. It sure sounds gross, but the truth is, beaver butt smells like Vanilla. For those of you who are on a strict no-beaver-butt diet, the good news is that Castoreum is not used much these days – as the process to extract the sweet secretions isn’t easy or generally cost-effective anymore. However, the fact that it’s usually labeled as just “natural flavors” means it might still be in some products and you won’t know it. Also, while its use in food seems to have lessened, it is still used in many perfumes. Puts a whole new, somewhat literal, twist on the term “Eau de Toilette” doesn’t it!?