Beaver Butts and Other Natural Flavours


In searching for ingredients for Sweetteeth products, I was schooled by a food distributor rep the other day.

I saw ‘natural vanilla flavor’ in an ingredient list for a confection, and thought I wanted to find some.

In conversation with the food rep, I mentioned this, and he said ‘Didn’t you know. “Natural blank flavor” is code’.

I asked him what he meant, as simple-minded me, I thought “natural flavours” would be, uhm, natural.

He said “Look it up on the Internet”. So I looked:)

“Natural vanilla flavor” may be contain secretions from beaver anuses! Startled?

More likely, it is chemically manufactured from lignen, a byproduct of the pulp and paper industry. I’m not sure I envisioned wood residue in my plant based diet.

How is this not ‘artificial’?

According to the FDA, who came up with this silly idea, a ‘natural flavor’ is anything that has been derived from plants, animals, birds, fish, shellfish, etc. Essentially, anything but minerals! Hey, how about ‘natural feather flavoring’ in your next dish? ‘Goose gonad soufle’?

Castoreum, which is extracted from beaver back ends and processed into something that remarkably tastes like vanilla, can be listed as “natural vanilla flavor”. Legal as taxes.

Now, this perversion of the word ‘natural’ is in contrast to the word ‘artificial’. An artificial flavor is chemically created from, potentially, non formerly living materials. Like coal. Or petroleum.

Wait, aren’t those created from formerly living things (like wood, shellfish, algae, etc.)?

In fact, artificial vanilla (vanillin), is just a chemical synthesized to be identical to the chemical in vanilla, that tastes like, you know, vanilla:)

So, artificial vanilla, from a petro chemical factory, or ‘natural vanilla flavor’, from various more recently dead things (that I wouldn’t generally consider ‘food’). Tough decision.

Eye opening. I am going to watch out for ‘natural blank flavors’ on ingredient lists from now on!

And put ‘natural blank flavours’ on the TBA list. (To Be Avoided:)

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