You probably have no idea where saffron comes from or what epazote is, but I don’t blame you. We ‘Mericans are pretty out of touch with our food thanks to industrial agriculture and modern supermarkets. Unlike our ancestors, the closest we get to hunting and gathering is at Walmart on Black Friday. Here are five freaky facts that will make you think twice about what’s in your fridge:
1. Pulp fiction
Orange juice is actually a really important part of our economy. Like, you can invest in it. Just like the NFL and unreliable politicians, OJ is deeply embedded in American culture, which results in mad amounts of Florida juice factories. Note the word “factory.” Even though many brands now claim to be “not from concentrate” (“concentrate” meaning dehydrated to be 65% sugar) the product still isn’t 100% juice. The process goes like this: the juice from thousands of oranges is squeezed into giant tubs and then stripped of its oxygen to increase shelf life. But, um, removing the oxygen also removes the orange flavor, so the factory adds artificial flavoring and fragrances (courtesy of the same company that makes Dior perfume) to make the juice taste like juice. Tropicana why you gotta do us so bogus?
2. Walter White was irregular?
Ricin, the poison Walt uses to kill Lydia in Breaking Bad, is a real thing and it comes from the castor bean… aka the source of constipation-relieving castor oil. Fortunately the castor oil at drugstores is carefully prepared, because consuming just one unprocessed castor bean will kill a human. It takes four beans to kill a horse, in case you were wondering. That’s one risky drug business.
3. The chicken or the egg?
If you don’t already know, you’ve definitely wondered why some eggs are brown and some are white. It’s actually pretty simple: white eggs come from white hens and brown eggs come from brown hens. College educated.
4. Peanut identity crisis
So, peanuts aren’t actually nuts. They’re legumes — a type of plant with seeds that grow inside pods, like peas and beans. Unlike nuts, which grow on trees, peanuts grow underground. From a health standpoint, that kind of makes a difference. Peanuts contain a weird protein called lectin that is really hard to digest and weasels its way into our bloodstreams, then causes immune system inflammation, which sounds really unpleasant. Is it worrisome? Possibly. Will I stop eating spoonfuls of peanut butter at 2 am? Definitely not.
P.S. Cashews are gross little nubs on the end of a fruit. WTF.
5. Cinnamon challenge
Cinnamon is the bark from the cassia tree, which is pretty cool. It also is an anti-viral, has a bunch of antioxidants, sometimes works as an insect repellent, and even helped a mouse beat Alzheimer’s disease. So basically it’s magical.