You Will Never Eat This Food if You Know What It is Made From?
I somehow stumbled upon this article which warns that if you look at the ingredients on a package of gummy bears, you will see an ingredient called — hang on to your hat, as “you will never believe this” — gelatin; and that includes organic gummy bears.
According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the definition of gelatin is “a virtually colorless and tasteless water-soluble protein prepared from collagen and used in food preparation as the basis of jellies, in photographic processes, and in glue.”
You Will Never Eat This Food if You Know What It is Made From?
Perhaps Jenny Sugar — the author of the aforementioned article which was posted at Pop Sugar — must not travel. After all, this disgusting ingredient known as gelatin is “made primarily from the stuff meat industries have left over” — that is, the “prolonged boiling of skin, cartilage, and bones from animals” such as pigs, birds and cows — is used in many food products manufactured in the United States; and it is difficult to think of a country where gelatin is not used in food. Cue the requisite “ugh.”
“This animal-derived ingredient can also be found in some vitamins and medications, marshmallows (Peeps included), cheeses, yogurts, soups, salad dressings, jams and jellies, fruit snacks, and canned hams.” Um…yeah. That is correct — for literally hundreds of years. Where have you been, Jenny Sugar; and is that your real name?!?
It might just drive you to go on a Kosher diet, right? Nope. There are plenty of gelatinous food products which have been approved by mashgiachs, who are usually rabbis which supervise and inspect establishments to ensure that food indeed meets the qualifications to be officially certified as Kosher. Gefilte fish in jellied broth, anyone?!?
A vegan diet might be your only ticket to avoid gelatin completely — or “If this tidbit of info grosses you out, you’ll want to pay closer attention to these products’ food labels.”
If you do adhere to a Kosher or vegan diet, you can avoid ingesting cochineal, which is only one example of a food additive which is derived from insects.
Insects as Ingredients
Have you ever wondered from what the coloring in the food you eat could be derived? You may have heard about how impossible it is to avoid insect fragments from being in your food; but there are some products purposely composed of the parts of insects.
“Cochineal goes by different names on food and cosmetic labels: cochineal, carmine, carminic acid, Natural Red 4, or E120”, according to this article written by Gwen Pearson of Wired. “You may be surprised where you find it — it provides color to sausage and artificial crab, as well as pink pastries. Many yogurts and juices use cochineal, and it’s common in lipsticks and blushes. It’s remarkably stable during cooking, freezing, or in an acid environment, making it perfect for manufacturing.”
You might not want to read the Defect Levels Handbook — provided by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States, which is a federal agency charged with protecting and promoting your health — if you tend to have a weak stomach, as it describes “levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans” and specifically lists food commodities and their specific defect action levels.
I am not saying that you should take the ingredients of the food you ingest lightly, as everyone has their limits when it comes to diet. You should be able to eat what you want to eat and avoid what you do not want to eat. I consider myself a particular eater; and readers of The Gate have poked fun at me over the years because I do not like most cheeses and nuts — nor do I consume alcoholic beverages…
…but in a world where just about anything which was once a living organism is consumed by humans, the ingredients of many foods should not surprise anyone. I personally would not salivate over the prospect of eating svið — the Icelandic dish which consists of the head of a sheep cut in half, boiled with the brain removed and served on a plate for your consumption — but there are people who enjoy eating that dish, which is one of many foods around the world that are considered delicacies. Would you consider eating Casu Marzu, which is a cheese from Sardinia purposely comprised of live maggots as one of the ingredients? Could there be parasites in your sushi? What about escolar or spicy tuna or a product called lean finely textured beef, which is also known as pink slime?
If we knew everything about all of the ingredients which was in the food which we eat every day, we would probably starve to death — not that ignorance is necessarily bliss when it comes to food.
I have often said to people over the years that I wonder who looked at a lobster and thought “Mmm…dinner!” If someone suddenly found a live lobster in the corner of a room in his or her home, that person would most likely initially be more frightened than hungry — which would be a reaction similar to spotting a huge cockroach. What most likely happened is that with foods which initially look disgusting, someone was hungry and desperate enough to eat it and realized that it was very tasty and convinced other people to try it.
In my freezer right now are the remains of a carcass of a turkey — shown in the photograph at the top of this article — to be used for the preparation of a soup. I do enjoy eating the skin of a turkey when it is crispy and seasoned well; but that only happens several times per year at most — and yet, I have had at least one person express his disgust to me pertaining to eating the skin of a turkey. Some relatives of mine had left very few remains over from their consumption of animals, as they have eaten parts of which many people would wince.
Despite my being fussy about eating certain foods, I have been known to try foods in other countries during my travels. Some I have liked. Some not…
…but I do wonder what the reaction of Jenny Sugar would be if she was served a plate of escargot in Paris or haggis in Scotland — and found out what were the ingredients of those dishes.
In the meantime — although I do not eat them very often — please pass me a few gummy bears.
Better yet: bring on that delicious turkey soup — and add plenty of noodles and vegetables, please…
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.