This Easter, enjoy the by-products of pig bones, crushed bugs, and my personal favorite, beaver anal glands. I know I will!
Sorry for the Debbie Downer title and subject matter today, but I think you will appreciate how enlightened you will be by the end of this.
Though I haven’t consumed any meat in a long time now, I will be breaking my vegetarian streak this Sunday.
It’s not because I will be grilling out steaks or chewing on some deer jerky, but simply because I want to join in on all that marshmallowy goodness; as we evidently celebrate the bunnies and baby chicks who were present when our Lord and Savior was resurrected from the grave.
Here is why vegetarians, as well as the kosher abiding, must compromise their principles in order to truly enjoy their children’s Easter candy. And for any of you Doubting Thomas’s or blog snipers out there, I’ve conveniently paired each one with a snopes.com (or other more-legitimate-than-Wikipedia) link where you can verify these aren’t simply urban legends or Internet hoaxes left over from April Fool’s Day.
1. Marshmallows: They are what makes Easter candy special, as compared to Halloween or Christmas candy. But what makes marshmallows themselves so special? Well, it’s just that they are made with gelatin, which is comprised of cow hide, pig skins, and bones of both. Pudding, anyone?
2. Red food dye: If any of your candy contains the red food dye Crimson Lake, you will be appreciating the splendor of crushed scale insects (parasites of plants). This is why Starbucks is currently taking heat for their Strawberry Frappuccinos. Could be worse; at least it’s not made from beaver genitals…
3. “Natural” vanilla flavoring: How can you know when a vanilla flavored food is made with actual vanilla or just castoreum, which is the oily secretion, found in two sacs between the anus and the external genitals of beavers? We can’t, thanks to the FDA. But at least we can credit Jamie Oliver for bringing the truth about castoreum to the national limelight for us; just as he did for “pink slime.”
In the ideal world, which is evidently America in the 1950′s, my wife could just stay home with our son all the time and I’d actually make enough money to support the three of us.
That way, we wouldn’t have to put our son in a position to be exposed to so many germs or have to be given fever reducer to avoid being sent home, causing either my wife or me to miss work.
But in reality, my wife actually makes more money than I do and has the more stable job. We both have to work and our son has to go to daycare.
Yet again, what option do I have to allow him to live a more natural, yet healthy, life? How can I possibly avoid this path for him, as his parent?
Should I just assume that going through two bottles of Children’s Advil per month is normal and justified?
Several times now I have written about my distrust of the FDA; how they approve red food dye made from crushed bugs and petroleum, which has shown side effects in children, such as myself in the Eighties.
And how I hate the fact that not even Snopes.com can confirm or deny that “natural” vanilla flavoring in ice cream and cookies is made from the anal glands of beavers.
With all that the FDA says is okay for us to eat, how can I know that these over-the-counter and prescription medicines are truly safe for my son?
I wish we could just say no to drugs, even over-the-counter ones.
By now, I’ve well established myself as “that dad” who is a health nut vegetarian who won’t allow his son to eatprocessed foods; that includes fruit juice.
I’ve been very clear that I deem the FDA as illegitimate. Why?
Because if they were doing their job, I wouldn’t have to ask the question I did in the title of this article. Well, now Snopes.om verifies Jamie Oliver’s claim as as accurate; that vanilla and strawberry flavoring is made from castoreum, which is derived from the anal glad of beavers.
Wikipedia confirms this absurd concept:
“In the United States, Castoreum has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive, often referenced simply as a ‘natural flavoring’ in the product’s list of ingredients. It is commonly used in both food and beverages, especially as vanilla and raspberry flavoring.”
Again, we shouldn’t even be having this conversation. We shouldn’t have to guess whether or not our children’s animal crackers really are made from beavers’ anal glands.
It’s reasons like this that I make such a deliberate effort to avoid processed foods as much as possible. But see how tricky it is?
Food companies are able to get away with calling beaver anal glands “natural flavoring” while the FDA gives the thumb up.
Castoreum is just a little too natural for me.
Sorry son, but you’re not old enough to know where vanilla ice cream comes from…
Would you eat petroleum? What if it made your food more physically more appealing?
What about insects? Are you cool with eating ground-up bugs?
The funny thing is, you and your kids already do. And the FDA approves it.
In 5th and 6th grade, I was a pretty sick kid. I had so many stomach issues back then that today I still owe my ability to unclog any toilet back to 20 years ago when I had to carry around TUMS Extra at all times.
What made it worse was that I suffered anxiety attacks, which helped keep a vicious circle going: I was always nervous that my extreme digestion issues would flare up at any moment, especially in public places where I couldn’t escape to a restroom. And when they did, it only fueled my anxieties.
Keeping in mind that this was during a time when there was no such thing as “looking it up on the Internet,” fortunately my mom heard from another mom that I should stay away from any foods with red food dye: namely “Red 40″ and “Crimson Lake.” There was no way for us to know what was in those food dyes, but whatever it was, I stopped consuming it.
No more red Kool-Aid. No more Twizzlers. No more red anything unless it came that way naturally.
As you can imagine because of this article’s title, both my extreme indigestion and my anxiety attacks went away. But it wouldn’t be until the glorious arrival of Wikipedia that I would know exactly what was in those red food dyes:
Red 40: Made mostly from petroleum, this red dye can easily be found in sodas, cotton candy, and children’s medications. It has been linked to cases of ADHD and hyperactivity in children. Red 40 is also known as Allura Red AC.
Crimson Lake: Made from the powdered and boiled bodies of scale insects (parasites of plants) this dye is commonly found in yogurt, juice drinks, ice cream, and candy. Though I am a vegetarian, I still abide by kosher law, which prohibits the consumption of any insect other than the locust. Crimson Lake is also known as Carmine.
Fun fact: The closing scene of the movie The Wedding Planner makes a reference to these dyes as the “added chemicals” in red M&M’s that Jennifer Lopez’s character throws out.
Can you blame me from not trusting the FDA? It should common sense that people shouldn’t eat petroleum or parasites. So you know what? I am my own FDA. I decide what weird stuff my family does and does not eat.
And I’ll tell ya… bugs and oil are not on our menu.
Top image of scale insects, courtesy of Frank Vincentz.
Bottom image of scale insect nests, courtesy of Oscar Carrizosa.