February 2nd, 2006

against demons

"pay no attention to [the ingredients] behind the curtain..."

do you know why exactly pigment from the crushed bodies of female cochineal beetles are used to color a zillion products that we consume? i knew that it was in a great many things, but i didn't know WHY until i read this article today. the reason that we use cochineal extract (aka carmine or carminic acid) to color products ranging from cranberry juice to lipstick seriously blows my mind. feel like finding out for yourself? read a sippable color spectrum. hint: it's the same reason that crystal pepsi failed.

i seriously loathe that the FDA isn't required to list exactly what ingredients go into packaged food. it sucks for people with faiths who do not allow the consumption of certain things, vegetarians and vegans, those with food allergies, and anyone who would simply like to know exactly what they are eating/drinking/putting on their face or under their armpits. this article, even though it is titled why mcdonald's french fries taste so good?, contains so much more than just that. it explains the difference between natural and artificial flavors. here are a couple of excerpts:

"According to the FDA, [natural flavors] must be derived entirely from natural sources -- from herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, beef, chicken, yeast, bark, roots, and so forth. Consumers prefer to see natural flavors on a label, out of a belief that they are more healthful. Distinctions between artificial and natural flavors can be arbitrary and somewhat absurd, based more on how the flavor has been made than on what it actually contains."

"A natural flavor is not necessarily more healthful or purer than an artificial one. When almond flavor -- benzaldehyde -- is derived from natural sources, such as peach and apricot pits, it contains traces of hydrogen cyanide, a deadly poison. Benzaldehyde derived by mixing oil of clove and amyl acetate does not contain any cyanide."

"In the early part of the twentieth century Germany took the technological lead in flavor production, owing to its powerful chemical industry. Legend has it that a German scientist discovered methyl anthranilate, one of the first artificial flavors, by accident while mixing chemicals in his laboratory. Suddenly the lab was filled with the sweet smell of grapes. Methyl anthranilate later became the chief flavor compound in grape Kool-Aid."

this stuff always freaks me out and then i settle down and try to rationalize that i have to choose my battles, but seriously, it just feels like thorough ingredient lists would be something consumers would really want. seriously, how many of you didn't know what cochineal extract/carmine were? hands, please.

i am constantly at war with myself; frugality vs. humanity. this is why i try as often as possible to support small business, have stopped buying and wearing leather, and read the ingredients label before purchasing something. it makes it hard when the majority of products keep the truth hidden under "artificial" and "natural" ingredients.
  • Current Music
    falsetto girl talking not singing