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Bake Your Own Bread: Or Eat Hair & Feathers
It certainly isn't new news, but it is circulating around the social webs as if it were breaking news once again. Which makes it a good time to go over the issue once again, of strange ingredients used in food, that you may never know about until someone announces it.
Today's topic: L-Cysteine, which is an ingredient added to nearly all flour made products to help give it that look that you see in commercials. And while this ingredient might make your food look particularly tasty, what it's made from might not be so appetizing...
The three main sources for L-Cysteine are: Human hair (usually from china), Hogs hair (also usually from china) or Duck Feathers. There are synthetic version out, but you'll find that most businesses are to cheap to use them. Yummy!
Now, while many surveys show that non-vegan, non-rabbis, non-halal eaters don't have a big problem with eating human, hog or duck hair, there are some things to consider about these ingredients in light of recent events.
First, no one truly knows where they source the hair or feathers they get. Does the human hair come from barber shops and salons? Or does it come from the recently deceased (as some say) who no longer need their hair? Even when using hog hair or duck feathers, are they freshly plucked or pulled from deceased animals? I'm all about not wasting anything, but I am sure we could find better ways to make food look tastier... Or we could at least be more honest about the ingredients used, as you will never find a label that says "human hair, hog hair or duck feathers were used to make this".
The second thing to consider, even if you're not offended by the possibilities of how the ingredients are collected - is the effects of the recent Fukushima melt down and the tons of reports coming from china over lead poisoning. Fukushima's radiation has spread over many parts of China, and coupled with the idea of lead killing people, I can't say the use of human hair sounds appealing no matter how they collect it. And even hogs and ducks are adversely effected by radiation, especially when it comes to the part of their bodies that receive the first hits - hair and feathers.
Why use hair and feathers?
Well, aside from L-Cysteine being a cheap ingredient that is easily sourced, it also gives a much longer shelf life then yeast and other products normally used in bread and pastry baking. Which means that instead of only lasting a week or two, that yummy pizza or delicious burger bun could last for months on the shelf. So if you've ever been curious about what can make these tantalizing treats last so long, this is one of the reasons why.
Don't enjoy the idea of eating hair and feathers?
The best way to avoid eating these gross ingredients, is to make your own bread products, avoid commercial breads and cheaply baked products. I know they look and taste good, so this can be a challenge to do, but avoiding them could be a big bonus for your body. Especially since the amino-acid they produce is not needed by humans. It's actually a waste product our bodies produce into our hair, which is why human hair is such a great source of L-cysteine.
Thankfully though, a majority of store bought flour still do not use L-cysteine, which means that you are much more able to avoid the stigma of eating human hair or duck feathers, if you bake your own at home. Though to be ultimately safe, you might want to consider using Hemp Flour, as 98% of hemp flours are made to be vegan friendly, which means they won't contain anything that came from any meaty creatures (like people).
The commercial food companies haven't been happy since the report came out, but since more people knowing about the ingredients they consume, pushes more often commercial food manufacturers to change their habits, I feel it's good to continue to share this knowledge. Here are a few links to more info about L-Cysteine.