It’s 2018 and while the organic, raw and natural food movements have never been stronger, for most people with regular diets, at least some of the food that they consume on a daily/weekly/monthly basis is really stretching the definition of food. From the chemicals meant to keep food “fresh”, to the combination of some really nasty natural processes and ingredients, there are a ton of different foods that people wouldn’t touch with someone elses’ tongue if they really took the time to read the ingredients (and then search what those ingredients actually are on a chemistry website). So, let’s take a look at the 10 most off-putting food facts that may change the way that you eat forever.
10. Jelly Beans that Shine
If you had to make a short list of the things in this world that most people would rather starve than actually eat, most bugs would make everyone’s top 10 (despite their supposed high protein amounts). So, when you’re reaching into a bag of candy, the last thing you’re thinking about is bugs or beetles but that’s exactly what makes some candies as shiny as they are (namely Jelly Beans). The shine that you see on the outside of Jelly Beans is called Shellac, which is actually made from the “excretions of the female lac insect” (which looks like a cricket mixed with a scorpion mixed with Satan). While that’s not actually the poop of the Lac, it is close enough to make you wonder just how important the shine on a Jelly Bean really is. If it’s really all for aesthetics, then perhaps we can go without it. However, Jelly Beans are known to stick together even when covered in Shellac, so removing it would probably mean that you’d have to store your Jelly Beans in the fridge (as heat and humidity perpetuate this problem). That may sound like a pain, but it’s a small price to pay to not have to remember that you’re basically eating the feces of the bug from hell everytime you go to the movie theater.
9. Chicken Nuggets
Be honest. Before you clicked on this article you definitely expected to see chicken nuggets somewhere on this list, either because of the fact that chickens don’t have “nuggets” as part of their bodies or because you saw that infamous “pink slime” video that went viral a few years ago (and was proven to be an exaggeration by the people at McDonald’s, who followed it up with a video showing how their nuggets are made that, at the end of the day, wasn’t that much more appetizing than the pink slime video). Beyond the deus ex machina from Ghostbusters 2, chicken nuggets are just gross, as they’re basically the hot dogs of the chicken world thanks to the fact that they’re basically comprised of left-over chicken products, called “chicken slurry” (at least “pink slime” had a nice ring to it). Chicken slurry is a liquefied meat product that its defenders say are the best way to use the “whole chicken”, but there’s a reason why people don’t eat the whole chicken and there’s really no better explanation as to why than the existence of chicken slurry.
8. The FDA Allows for a Certain Level of … What?
They say that ignorance is bliss and that’s because the more a person learns about life or reality, typically the more depressed they become about the state of things. There may be no better example of that then the fact that the FDA actually has a maximum allotted “Rodent Hair” per 100 grams of food product and it isn’t zero. That’s because rodents, namely rats, are extremely smart and capable of surviving pretty much anything as they’re the cockroaches of the mammal world and because of that there’s really no way to completely remove them from the food-chain. So, while it’d be nice to say that there’s no rat hair in your … Everything, the truth is that there most likely is and somehow the FDA decided that four hairs per 100 grams is the right amount of rat hair. Considering the fact that rodent hair can have fleas and that those fleas were (and still are, in some areas of the world) responsible for the plague, and you’ll start to see why some people prefer to grow their own food. While it may be really, really gross (especially if you’re eating a lot of Jelly Beans (Yum, rat hair and bug poop!)), at least it’s not bad for your health, unlike…
7. All That Poison in Baby Food
The FDA also allows a certain amount of highly dangerous chemicals in a lot of different foods, like honey for example, which has enough botulism spores to make it basically deadly for children under a certain age. Some of it is just a natural byproduct of produce growing in the earth, like arsenic for example, which is typically present in small amounts in rice but has been detected at higher than FDA allowed levels in basically every brand of rice products marketed towards children in recent years. Beyond that, a lot of heavy metals that are used in manufacturing like cadmium, seep into food while it’s being mass-produced and is present even (or especially) in brands that are marketed as “safe”, “natural” and/or “organic”. Suddenly the fact that 1 in 3 people reading this article will have cancer at some point in their life is starting to make sense, as basically our food is full of poisons that our bodies can’t breakdown (like mercury and lead, as well). Beyond that, there are also “safe” levels of these heavy metals in our water supply, too, so if you were thinking of fasting to literally detox, you might have to switch to air… Wait a minute.
6. Carbon Monoxide = Fresh?
As we’ve seen, there are a lot of highly poisonous and cancerous chemicals that enter into our food either as a byproduct of nature or a byproduct of the manufacturing process and while that’s concerning, at least it’s not something that’s done intentionally for an otherwise worthless reason. Leave that to the good people of the meat industry, who clearly want people to think that the product(s) they’re buying are fresh and safe to eat. Most people look at the color (and smell) of the meat through the packaging to see how “good” it is and while that used to be a good indicator of the shelf life of the steak, hamburger or other hunk of animal you’re about to buy, it really no longer is, thanks to modern science. You see, when some meat is introduced to carbon monoxide it turns colors that are mostly associated with freshness while it also basically makes it impossible for the meat to turn the natural colors people were used to seeing for millenia when chowing down on cow, bison or mammoth. While there is no indication that that’s necessarily bad for humans, carbon monoxide is highly poisonous and something that if breathed by humans can cause all sorts of problems. The process is called “gas packing” and while it may make you think that your butcher is connecting his car’s exhaust to today’s finest cuts, it’s supposedly a relatively benign process. Either way, though, considering the fact that that meat also has minimum amounts of heavy metals and at least four rat hairs, perhaps blowing toxic gas onto it is something that isn’t necessary in 2018.
5. Then There’s the Bacteria
One benefit of blasting meat with noxous gas, you’d think at least, would be the fact that it probably would kill any bacteria that’s sitting atop the meat and waiting to infect someone at a 99 cent buffet. But, if chemistry class taught us anything, which it didn’t, it’s that there are both aerobic and anaerobic cells, meaning that not all forms of life need oxygen to survive. Perhaps because of that, and definitely because of all of the anti-bacterial drugs that livestock were fed for decades to lower the chances of farmers losing animals to disease (or those diseases jumping from pigs to people, a la 2009’s Swine Flu outbreak), apparently one-in-four meat samples tested have some sort of drug resistant bacteria on it’s surface. That means that some meat comes with things like drug-resistant staph infections on it’s surface which clearly isn’t that big of a deal (as you don’t hear about people dying from staph or flesh eating bacteria after a barbeque), it can be especially if you work around food a lot as the chances of you accidentally cutting yourself while slicing and dicing through meat is pretty high. That would give that bacteria a straight shot to your innards and is something that could have wide-ranging consequences not only for people who cut meat for a living but for people who… Live for a living. Humans are animals and there’s a reason why you dissected that fetal pig in high school, it’s because they have remarkably similar organs to that of humans and that doesn’t just come in handy when it comes to learning about said anatomy but also when it comes to bacteria finding new hosts regardless of species. Considering the fact that antibiotics haven’t even been around for 100 years and bacteria is already becoming resistant is also sort of scary, but that’s a topic for another list (if we still have time, as a race). That’s not the only scary part, though…
4. … As There are a Ton of Sick Animals Being Consumed
The reality of needing to feed a planet of seven-billion people often means that, when it comes to the farms the produce the meat that we eat, things aren’t always clean, humane or moral. While a lot of people are trying to learn more about where the meat they eat comes from and are attempting to make conscious choices like eating locally or from farms that allow free-range animals, the reality is that most meat comes from “corporate farms” where animals have pretty dismal, cramped lives that consist of basically just eating, standing and waiting to be slaughtered. That was “okay” back when farms used to pump their animals full of antibiotics, as things like the bed-sore like skin lesions animals get from being in pens all day could be kept under control and free of infection. However, as we’ve seen above, antibiotics in the meat we eat is not only disgusting but it also could be the end of civilization as we know it, so while it’s commendable that farms are no longer pumping meat full of medicine, it doesn’t mean that they’re somehow alleviating the causes of the diseases that prompted the use of antibiotics in the first place. Beyond that, farming is a hard life and the difference between profit and loss can often be razor thin, so because of that a lot of farmers will still butcher sick animals and sell their meat on the open market. A recent study showed that almost 15 percent of feedlot cattle had abscessed livers and that of the 110 million hogs slaughtered in a given year, almost 80 percent were given a drug that boosts their meat production but otherwise makes the hogs really sick (hyperactivity, trembling, broken limbs, inability to walk, lesions and death). So, basically, the meat industry is still giving livestock medication, but instead of medication meant to make them healthy they’re actually making them sick just to improve their quotas. Suddenly vegetarianism is making a lot of sense.
3. More Bugs in Sweet Stuff!
Now that you’re probably a vegetarian, we thought it was time to ruin a staple of that diet as well! Whether or not you’re actually a vegetarian (or a vegan), you’ve probably had a smoothie or delicious frappucino at one point in your life and thought that you knew everything that went into it, as you saw the person at Jamba Juice making it. However, between the ice cubes, bananas, strawberries and milk there is actually a natural way that a lot of companies that manufacture Strawberry Frappucinos (or related drinks) get that beautiful pinkish-red color that’s clearly meant to mimic strawberries. Like the number 10 entry on this list, it turns out that instead of using a bunch of different chemicals (man-made chemicals at least), the food industry uses some bugs either for things like the shine on jelly beans or the color in that frappucino. That dye is made from something called cochineal, which is actually just ground up beetles, which actually may make strawberry frappucino’s not totally safe for vegans… Sorry, we did warn you, though. So, enjoy your carbon monoxide/incurable staph infection covered steak from a sick cow while you drink you’re crushed up beetle frappucino… At least it’s not…
2. The Anal Gland of a Beaver
Most people think of food dyes and flavoring as highly unnatural and something that most food companies make in a lab, but as the #3 and #10 entries on this list show, a lot of companies have never strayed from using really disgusting actual animal parts in their otherwise sweet and fun confections. That’s especially true in the case of castoreum, which is a common additive that is used a ton in baked goods as it tastes and smells a lot like vanilla, however it’s actually derived from the anal glands of beavers. Now, the question becomes where are they getting all these beaver anal glands, are there beaver farms where they slaughter them just for those glands or are they also taking the pelts for fur jackets, the tails for billy clubs and the teeth for before posters at orthodontists offices? Beyond that, who was the first person to realize that the butt gland of a beaver tasted just like it smelled? There are just so many questions, the most important of all is, of course… Why? Sure, back in the day there weren’t factories capable of churning out synthetic versions of chemicals but now that we have that, considering the fact that we allow people to blast carbon monoxide onto our meat, I think some synthetic beaver butt juice isn’t a bridge too far.
1. Cheese Kills
Most people love to eat meat and while they probably couldn’t slaughter a cow themselves, they still can’t stop feasting on the deliciousness that is really every kind of meat. However, even the most ravenous of carnivores may take issue with the meat known as veal, which is basically the meat of a calf or baby cow. It’s said to be a lot more tender and thus delicious than regular cow meat, as it’s full of all the hopes and dreams of the baby cow and none of the above-mentioned hell of earth atrocities that are happening daily at our factory farms. While most people draw that line at veal, they don’t realize the vital role that calves play in the making of cheese (and no, it’s not their role in getting their mama cow’s to start producing milk… At least not solely). Rennet is a group of enzymes used to digest that milk, though, and it’s one of the most crucial steps to making all kinds of cheese and really the best way to obtain it is by… You guessed it, slicing open the stomach of a nursing calf and basically taking the rennet from it. After that, the rennet is soaked in things like whey, wine or vinegar for flavoring and then it’s all-filtered. Brings a whole new meaning to “Cutting the Cheese”. And yes, we’ve basically ruined every single member of the food pyramid. We’re so sorry… And strangely hungry.