Natural Additives: Bugs, Hair, and Anal Secretions, Oh My

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Have you ever selected a product at the supermarket and felt virtuous because the ingredients label boasted of “natural coloring” or “natural flavors”? That sure sounds a lot better than those chemical concoctions, right?

Well, maybe not. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean you would want to eat it if you knew where it was derived. The items that follow aren’t necessarily harmful, but they really don’t sound very appetizing.

Let’s take a pictorial tour of the real sources of natural colors and flavors

Natural Red #4

Starbucks recently came under fire for their use of “Natural Red #4”, also known as “carmine”.  It seems that the Cochineal beetle, originating from Central America, is  ground up to provide a luscious pink color to the java chain’s  Strawberry Frappuccino. This certainly gives a new meaning to the term “Beetlejuice”.



Beware of those “naturally flavored” vanilla and raspberry items.

They are naturally flavored with secretions from the anal glands of beavers, a substance called “Castoreum“.



L-Cysteine is a “natural” dough conditioner that is used in commercial bread and pastry products. 80% of the L-Cysteine used in North America is made from human hair, while the other 20% is made from duck feathers.

Industry insiders report that most of the hair is derived from Chinese women.



Shellac is perfectly natural too – don’t worry – it isn’t ground up bugs – it is just the resinous secretions from bugs during their mating cycles, specifically the female lac beetle.    Glazed donuts and glossy candy shells owe their shininess to these secretions.



Cellulose is basically sawdust.  It is an indigestible substance derived from wood pulp or cotton and is used to keep shredded cheese from clumping together, as well as in ice cream, as an emulsifier. It is also used as a filler, as food companies reduce the actual amount of food in the package.

Food companies like to tout the “high fiber” of foods containing cellulose…um, yeah – you’re eating wood!  What they don’t mention is that you receive no nutritional benefits from this “fiber”.


Civet Absolute


What does the food industry use to impart a butter, caramel, or rum flavor to baked goods and sweet treats? Why, scrapings from the anus of the civet cat, of course.

Civet Absolute is not a common additive in North America because of the expense of obtaining it (considering that someone must be paid to scrape the animal’s….you know), but is often used in Asian food manufacturing and is listed as a “natural flavor”.  Civet absolute is also an ingredient in several very expensive perfumes.


Because these items would be considered “trade secrets” if divulged, the FDA doesn’t require that they be specifically named. They can just be grouped into the category “natural”. This is yet another reason to eschew processed foods and prepare your meals at home, from pure ingredients.

Here’s a revolutionary idea

If the food industry was truly concerned with providing healthier options, they could make a vast variety of natural colors from things like beets, carrots, and other colorful produce.  And perhaps instead of “natural raspberry flavoring” they could just use…you  know, raspberries.

This is yet another reason (on an ever-growing list) to eschew processed foods and prepare your meals at home, from pure, carefully selected ingredients.

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Daisy Girl,

    I am an avid fan of OP and I read you frequently…but about that PRINT BUTTON !!!! Please…PRETTY PLEASE !


  • You honestly couldn’t make this stuff up, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! Definatley a good argument for eating organic though.
    How do they get hold of this stuff??
    Who tried this stuff in the first place??
    And could they look themselves in the mirror afterwards??
    YUK YUK YUK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this post! I xD
    I don’t eat much in the way of prepared foods, “rejected” but good info to add to add to my list.

  • Simba had two dads that raised him on insects. And now he’s king, and nails Nala on a nightly basis, and helped fight the Heartless.

    I think we all can tell now that the writer is full of…. extracts.

    Plus, humans are always going to be strange. Consider; two cavemen, thousands of years ago:
    “Hey Jobo.”
    “Yeh, Carl?”
    “Remember the stompy-kicktasties?”
    “The ones that bucked Cave Grunta into a painful bloody death?”
    “Yeah. Poor Grunta.”
    “Eh, f*ck him. What about the stompies?”
    “….. I’mma jump on it, and see how long I can hold on.”

    And thus, Horseriding was winvented.

    Also, insects are high in protein. And lobsters and crabs are scavengers– basically ocean vultures– and are delicious.
    This article is aimed at white Americans as scare-propaganda, who are too afraid to eat *real* organic (ie: covered in dirt and/or blood, and killed 5 minutes ago, by your own hand).
    In other words:

  • Hi there,

    Loved your article cant wait to read the rest!

    I stumbled here as I am researching some things for a short vegan documentary. I will do as you ask about linked back etc

    Any issues or if you would like to know more info – pop me an email.

    Debbie Lola xx

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