Inconvenient truths

peanut butter

Since I grew up in an agricultural area and spent a lot of time on my grandparent’s farm, I was not surprised that a Huffington Post article on “disturbing” food facts noted that peanut butter may contain rodent hair. If you have ever seen field crops being harvested, you realize that many insects are extracted from the field along with kernels of grain. And Stuart Little may be a cute cartoon character, but farmers don’t harbor much affection for the real mice who live in grain storage bins and often get transported to market along with the crops.

Nevertheless, this farm girl did not know that the number of rows on a ear of corn will always be even. But here is something most city slickers probably haven’t heard: chewing uncooked wheat kernels is just like chewing gum. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.

Much more disturbing to me than the concept of insects in my peanut butter is the realization that the “natural” vanilla flavor in my favorite ice cream may come from a beaver’s anal gland. (All the more reason to make your own vanilla extract!) Discovering that some food coloring may be made from coal tar was also unsettling. For the sake of your future cookouts, I will not disclose what my friends who worked at the hot dog processing plant shared with me.

But as disturbing as these truths may be, some food facts are much more pleasant. For instance, did you know that a pineapple is not a single fruit but instead a bunch of small fruits that grow together? Or that lettuce is a member of the sunflower family? I also found it interesting that chocolate chip cookies were invented by accident. Now that’s serendipity.

What food facts do you find remarkable?

Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post

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  • Queezle_Sister  on  February 20, 2014

    My favorite food fact: there are many fruits that we think of as vegetables (tomatoes, pepper, eggplant), but maybe only one vegetable that we think of as a fruit. Can you guess?

  • darcie_b  on  February 20, 2014


  • susan g  on  February 20, 2014

    As a teenager on a 6 week student trip from East Coast to West to Canadian Rockies and back, one stop was at a Midwest grain silo. We picked up some stray wheat kernels and chewed them as we were told. I'll have to try that again!
    Looking for a fact: if the tomatoes the Europeans first found in the Americas were a far cry from our present day type (even the 'heirlooms,' how did they ever become accepted and loved (once they got past the poison reputation)?

  • adrienneyoung  on  February 20, 2014

    Olive? Only because it grows on a tree, and I can't think of any other tree vegetables. Only tree fruits.

  • boardingace  on  February 20, 2014

    I'd heard about the peanut butter before; best to forget that little tidbit, because I love my peanut butter! Another option is grinding your own at Whole Foods, but they are pretty far from my house. I wasn't surprised that "the mere sight of a fast food logo or packaging can affect your behavior." The sight of desserts in my kitchen can affect my behavior too! I did find the pineapple, avocado, and strawberry information interesting.

  • Queezle_Sister  on  February 20, 2014

    Olives are fruits, you are right adrienneyoung, but the lowly rhubarb is a stem, so a vegetable, but its really only eaten as fruit. Excellent job, Darcie_b.

  • Ycool  on  February 23, 2014

    Tomatoes are either fruits or berries, depending on how you see things.

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