Over the years we have covered a host of freaky food and water-related stories that have the power to turn even the most adventurous eater into an obsessive label-reader, so we thought it was high time to collate six of the most disturbing in one convenient post as a reminder of how important it is to question just about everything we eat and to source our food from ethical markets.
You’ll be shocked to learn that holy ZamZam water from Mecca was found to be laced with arsenic, non-organic soy goes through a toxic chemical bath before it is compressed into a veggie burger, and that bread you love so much could very well contain traces of human hair. Learn more about these and other “hair-raising” food stories right after the break.
It’s hard to say which of these stories is the grossest, so to speak, so don’t take our ordering too seriously, though we have left one of our most explosive stories for the end!
China is not known for either its human or animal rights record, so it comes as no surprise to us that researchers at the University of Chemical Technology in Beijing, China, are culturing human collagen genes to develop yeast. These will then reproduce en masse to create vast supplies of gelatin used for pill capsules, desserts, and cosmetics! And the reason for using human genes, which doesn’t have to be reported to the consumer, according to the scientists working on the project? To reduce animal-related allergies and the spread of disease.
We hate to say it, but the Chinese are behind this shocking story as well. Although L-cysteine seems harmless enough – it’s a non-essential amino acid – it is derived from human hair that is dissolved in acid. Once the L-cysteine has been isolated, it is shipped off to bread producers who then use it to condition their dough. Aside from sounding completely unpalatable, consuming anything from human beings is a big no no for Jews and Muslims alike.
The vegetarians among us have long believed that eating veggie burgers will reduce our environmental impact and spare goodness knows how many tons of meat every year, but we learned from the Cornucopia Institute that non-organic soy products are “washed” in a chemical bath that can take the grease off the dirtiest engine! These baths typically consist of 50-60% n-hexane, a heavy industrial solvent and degreaser, along with a remaining mixture of cyclohexane, methycyclohexane and methypentanes – none of which sound especially delicious.
This next story is also one of our most controversial, since Zam Zam Holy Water from Mecca is considered sacred to Muslims and any so-called export of the product, which is illegal, is to be viewed with suspicion. Nonetheless, the BBC went undercover to take samples of a well in Mecca, and discovered that it contained levels of arsenic – a poisonous toxic – that are 3 x higher than what is considered safe for human consumption. Is this healing drinkers, as Muslims believe, or harming them?
This isn’t the first time we’ve used the word shocking to describe these stories, but considering that in some countries it is required by law to have fluoride in our waterways, this story really will shock you. Miriam interviewed an occupational health and toxicology expert, who revealed that fluorides – a byproduct of fertilizer, nuclear, aluminum, steel, and pesticide industries – is supposed to prevent tooth decay, but is actually a powerful toxin responsible for such ills as cancer, arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, and neurological disorders among others. We definitely encourage you to read more.
This story has been one of our most widely read and it’s easy to see why. This little package of white powder has the capability of turning 100 kg of otherwise useless scraps of beef, lamb, chicken, and fish look good enough to eat. The trouble is, transglutaminase, an enzyme in powder form derived from beef and pork blood plasma, comes with an unhealthy serving of blood clots, and it’s not necessary to report to customers that it’s being used. And because it binds scraps together so tightly, bacteria tends to stick to it too. The EU banned meat glue in 2010, but any old joe can pick up a pack at amazon if they wish!