I know this is not new news, but after debating with some folks that beaver butt juice is not an urban myth, I wanted to do a short post on this disgusting secret of the food industry. Yes, it’s true, beaver butt secretions are in the food supply, and you may be consuming it without knowing. YUCK!
Today I want to draw your attention to a food additive called castoreum. Castoreum is exudate from the castor sacs of the mature North American Beaver and the European Beaver. It is a yellowish secretion that combines with the beaver’s urine, used during scent marking of territory. Both male and female beavers possess a pair of castor sacs and a pair of anal glands. And amazingly enough, this secretion is now commonly used in perfumes and as a food additive. SERIOUSLY????
In the United States, castoreum is considered to be a legal food additive by the Food and Drug Administration. It usually is only labelled as a “natural flavoring” in food products, leaving the consumer completely unaware that they are consuming beaver butt secretions. It is often used as part of a substitute for vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry flavoring.
For real, ya’ll. Who in the heck discovered that beaver anal secretions were “tasty”?
“Natural Flavoring” According to the FDA
The FDA has a practice of using broad umbrella words like “natural flavoring” to describe certain ingredients, many of which are in no way healthy or natural. When you see that term listed in the ingredients, know that there is no real way to know what you are consuming.
The exact definition of natural flavors from the Code of Federal Regulations reads:
“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
In other words, it’s impossible to really know what is in “natural flavorings.” A person who is vegan may be consuming a product made from pork. Someone with celiac disease may be unknowingly consuming something made from gluten. An innocent consumer just wanting a raspberry flavored yogurt may be eating beaver butt juice. The complete lack of transparecy by the FDA is appauling.
According to a detailed ingredient report by Be Food Smart, castoreum can be found in
- alcoholic beverages
- baked goods
- frozen dairy
- chewing gum
- meat products
- ice cream
- vanilla flavoring
- raspberry flavored food
Are you grossed out yet? I sure am. So let’s keep it REAL, folks. REAL food that is. The only real way to avoid questionable ingredients like beaver anal secretions is to avoid all processed food. Eat real fruit and vegetable. Eat local, clean, humanely raised meats. Eat the whole animal, not just processed muscle meat sections. Make your own ice cream from RAW, local dairy. If you eat grains, take the time to buy organic grains and prepare them properly for digestion. Eat out less. You never know what you are getting from someone else’s kitchen.
There was a time not long ago, maybe 40-50 years, when processed food were not the norm. People made food from scratch, sat down and ate together, and most of the food that was consumed was produced locally. Go to your local farmer’s markets and get to know your local farmers. Find out who raises good quality meats. How many of you know how to cut up a whole chicken? Learn to prepare your own foods and preserve, can, freeze for later. Get back to the kitchen and take charge of the foods that you and your family eat.
NEED SOME HELP TO GET STARTED?
Many of us have not learned or don’t feel like we have the time to make food from scratch. It can be overwhelming. My own personal food journey started over 20 years ago, and I am still learning every day. Feeding the family is an art form that takes practice. I am constantly trying to find ways to save time and money, as well as keeping it creative and interesting. Here are a few resources that I have found useful in learning to create my own food in my own kitchen:
- Real Food Survival Guide for Busy Moms by Homemade Mommy
- From Scratch by The Elliott Homestead
- Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
- Real Food Meal Plans from Holistic Squid
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