Smoker Box for Gas Grill

If you have a smoker box for the gas grill, you need to know that for grilling meat, the product is perfect but it is not that good when it comes to smoking. Smoking can be a natural seasoning of your meat and it gives it a unique and handsome taste.

There are different steps that you can take to convert your gas grill into a good smoker that you can use often at home. You need the right tools and equipment to be able to upgrade your gas grill so that you can also enjoy the smoking function.

How to Use the Smoker Box Method

smoker box for gas grill

If your gas grill has a smoker box, there is no reason to worry since you can use it for smoking your meat. You need wood chips and in a few steps, you can smoke your meat to give it a nice flavor. Smoking with a gas grill is convenient and easier since you only need to place the smoker box directly above the burner.

You then add dry wood chips in the burner so that they can produce smoke. Prior to providing wood chips in the best smoker box for a gas grill, you must soak them in water for about half an hour so that they do not catch fire. The method also helps to generate smoke.

A smoker box does not have holes at the bottom which entails that the chips would not catch fire. Wet wood chips give you a lot of smoke but the issue with them is that they take time to produce smoke. Dry wood chips can be the best alternative if you are in a hurry.

When you place the wood chips inside the smoker box to start producing smoke, you can close its lid. Setting the burner to the maximum can speed up the process but you need to lower it to your desired level once the burner begins to produce smoke.

When smoking meat, you should always remember that the process needs time and use a fixed low temperature. Place your meat on the grates but make sure that it is not directly above the burner. Using low temperature, you can keep an eye on your meat as it readies.

The smoker box consists of metal which conducts heat from the burner and it heats the wood chips to produce smoke. The upper part of the box has holes that enable the smoke to come through and it helps to improve the flavor of your meat. When the wood chips run out, you can open the box and add some more until your meat is ready.

The Tinfoil Method

smoker box for gas grill lowes

You can also use the tinfoil method to smoke your meat using a smoker box gas grill. A tin foil method can replace a smoker box in the event that you do not have that equipment. The tinfoil acts as a bag that will keep the wood chips in and it should be strong. Make sure the bag is properly sealed to prevent smoke from escaping.

You then put the sealed bag containing wood chips above the burner and make a tiny hole on its top. You can start the smoking process using this method with high temperature but you should subsequently lower it when the volume of smoke produced is high. You can control the amount of smoke to the desired level while at the same time monitoring your meat.  

A tin foil method is simple and easy to use but you need to make sure you have the right bag. The bag, however, can be time-consuming to make since it takes about 30 minutes. A gas grill smoker box will be ideal for smoking your meat on a regular basis since it is affordable. However, some gas grill comes without smoker boxes and this is when you can turn to this alternative method.

If you want to enjoy smoked meat using a gas grill, you only need to have the right equipment. Wood chips and a smoker box are the major tools that you should have. When smoking your meat, make sure that you lower your temperature once the wood in the smoker box begins to produce sufficient heat and smoke.

smoker box attachment for gas grill

Apart from using the wood chips for smoking your meat, you can also use cedar plank since it gives your meat good flavor. You should always remember the aspect of maintaining moderate heat so that your meat will not burn. Low heat also enables slow cooking of the meat so that it can retain its softness and juices.

While these methods of using a gas grill to smoke your meat are effective, one thing that you should know is that they can never produce the same results like meat smoked directly from a charcoal smoker. A wood smoker also produces perfect flavor for your meat. 

5 Steps to Hanging Your Hammock Indoors

Hanging a Hammock is not that complicated. The task, however, is intimidating when you do not know what to do, and when to do it. It also becomes an uphill task when you try to follow a dozen internet tutorials. But that should not burden you.

Below is the perfect guide. It shows you how to hang a hammock indoors in 5 simple steps.

Types of Indoor Hammocks

A hammock is a masterpiece. It comforts you beyond the traditional couch and bed. Did you know there are different indoor hammock types? The best include the:

  • Hammock Sky Brazilian Hammock
  • NOVICA Manaus Majesty
  • WeHammock Brazilian Hammock

Each bed represents real value and sophistication. You only need a few tools for propping the device.

how to hang a hammock indoors without drilling

Materials You Need

An indoor hammock is of no use to you if you lack a:

  • The best hammock that you love
  • drill
  • pair of s’ hooks
  • tape measure
  • chain
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • set of hammock propping hooks

The items above take you closer to your goal. They serve a unique purpose. You must, therefore, buy them before installation. But before installation, you need to determine the right techniques to use.

Best Harnessing Practices

how to hang a hammock indoors ceiling

Hanging a hammock for the first time is a daunting task. You must adhere to manufacturer specifications for you to achieve the desired outcomes. Taking notice of the lateral distance between anchor points is, thus, a perfect start.

The professionals caution you from spreading an extended platform between short distances. Doing so affects comfort and balance when the device is in use. Considering the hammock height also matters.  You need to leave enough room between the floor and the hammock bottom.

It, however, boils down to the angle of suspension and distance between anchor points. A correctly hang hammock makes sitting and climbing on to the platform safe. Last but not least, you must find the perfect height for your anchor points.

How the Experts Do It

Installing the bed in steps makes your work neat. You only have to:

1. Mark the Spots

It is a no brainer you should find the ideal spot for hammock placement first. An empty room, for example, makes an excellent choice. You can also use up space with little to no obstructions.

Second, you must determine the length of the hammock. Doing so helps you find the right configuration for the bed. A long hammock requires enough range for propping. Hanging the platform along a wall’s length, therefore, makes sense.

Hammock length also helps you determine the ideal anchor spots. It is, however, a best practice that you hand the component at least 4-feet high.

2. Drill the Holes

You need two anchor points for the hammock. Harnessing can occur along a wall or between two partitions. The hammock’s length will always guide you. Next, you must find the perfect spot to drill.

A stud finder comes in handy for this step. It helps you locate the studs on a wall. The average Joe understands studs as central beams on a wooden partition. They form a perfect anchor zone.

How wide should your drill bit be? You must drill a hole that is thinner than the diameter of the s’ hook. A tiny hole holds the hook tightly. It, therefore, props the hammock in the right position regardless of the load size.

how to hang a hammock indoors without damaging walls

3. Install the Hooks

The hooks need to hold the hammock plus its load firmly. You must, for you to be effective, screw the pieces into the holes you created. Ensure, however, that the S’ hooks go into the studs instead of the hollow spaces present on the wall. You can then use a set of pliers to tighten the hold.

4. Repair Any Damages

Drilling through a solid wall is a messy affair. You at times, do more damage than good, even when you mean well. But that should not deter you from the primary goal, that of installing the hammock plus its components. Recall, you can repair any damage using caulk. Repainting the wall is also a major save.

5. Harness the Bed

Hoisting the hammock on the wall is hard but necessary. You must get it right the first time. Learning how to tie the chords is a superb assist. It allows you to prop up the device and achieve maximum support and balance. The right technique also ensures you detach and re-attach the hammock with ease.

Conclusion

People have for years believed that hammocks are devices crafted for the outdoors. Spoiler alert, they were wrong. These platforms are also ideal for home use. They provide comfort in crowded spaces where conventional beds cannot fit.

Also, they foster convenience, given they are easy to install or detach. It is by following the above steps, therefore, that you attach a hammock on the wall. 

Swapping the Bed for the Hammock

Is sleeping on a hammock any match for a bed? Most people associate hammocks with comfort and for a good reason. They offer a quick escape from the traditional mattresses. The platforms also yield a lot of conveniences. Recall, you can prop the device indoors or outdoors. It depends on your preference.

There has, however, been a lot of contention about hammock use. Many skeptics believe that the easy-to-install beds cause back-related complications. So this begs the question, are hammocks bad for your back?

Why Sleep?

Sleep is a necessary evil because it improves health and well-being. It also raises your life’s standards. Have you ever wondered why you are more productive after a good night’s rest? Ample rest resets your mind, body, and soul. It reconditions your body to operate at optimum.

Insomniacs, however, find sleeping hard. Resting becomes an uphill task because of:

  • Stress and depression
  • Back- related issues
  • Drug abuse
  • Hormonal imbalances

Back pains, however, make the cycle endless. The situation worsens when you do not find the right treatment. Sleeping on a mattress does not make things easier.

What Does?

Sleeping on the wrong mattress can injure your lower back. Continued use of the same cushion makes a bad situation worse. Remember, a low-quality mattress strains the body muscles. It also encourages poor sleeping posture, a contributing factor to spinal injuries. Lower back pains become a norm when this goes on for long.

Does using the right mattress correct the situation? Yes, it does. The bed, however, is not as effective as the indoor or outdoor hammock.

Benefits of Using the Hammock

The hammock can work wonders for your body, specifically, the back region. Medical experts say the platform:

1. Protects You from Permanent Spine Damage

Dr. Stefano encourages people to sleep flat on their backs. Doing so reduces the amount of pressure exerted on the lower back, thus fewer complications. A typical bed, however, encourages back-related illnesses to develop. Mattress users sleep on the stomach, a move that stresses the spine further.

But did you know that a hammock reverts all the above? The device is only usable when you lie flat on your back. It helps you maintain quality health without your realization.

2. Eliminates Muscle Stiffness

The hammock is of much use to Ankylosing Spondylitis patients. AS is a medical condition that causes chronic pain in the hip region. It is hard to treat illness, given that it becomes more pronounced when you use a standard bed and consume foods that encourage inflammation.

Hammock users with AS have, however, found the devices useful. Doctors recommend them too. Recall, the platforms limit the number of pressure points, thus less pain on the lower back. All you need to do is find the perfect hammock.

3. Hastens Recovery after a Major Surgery

Wounds caused by surgery take a lot of time to heal if the procedure gets performed in the back region. The healing process takes longer because there is too much pressure exerted on the lower back. A hammock, however, saves the day. It provides comfort, therefore more room for recovery. Such a component also reduces the number of pressure points on the back.

4. Is Soothing To the Soul

Back pain causes a lot of discomforts. You may never get a good night’s rest on a conventional bed. For one, the mattress you sleep on has over a dozen pressure points. Second, the mattress might be too tough on your body. But the hammock offers a quick escape. It yields comfort and even rocks you to sleep. The rock-away motions are useful when you suffer from back-related complications, given that they knock you out in seconds. Say goodbye to insomnia!

5. Encourages a Full Body Stretch

Are you aware that too much clinging makes your body muscles stiff? Most people spend three-quarters of their lifespan seated and sleeping. They hardly engage in activities that help stretch body muscles.

The hammock, therefore, lifts the veil. It is a device made for flat back use. You, when you sleep straight on your back, stretch your legs out. It is such action that causes instant relief to back pain.

Conclusion

Hammocks have been in use for centuries. People, however, did not find much use for them until now. Medical experts today believe the devices are ideal for lower-back treatment. These perceptions have boosted interest in hammock research and study.

The findings are encouraging because many experts are now confident that only top-quality hammocks do your body good. They promote excellent sleeping posture. You must, however, prop the device correctly. Remember, the right hanging techniques help you hoist a bed in a way that promotes comfort and balance.

Above all, the hammock is useful only if you lie at an angle. Lying flat on your back but with your head raised high yields the desired results. It is the best lower-back treatment you can get!

The A to Z About Smoking Deer Meat

Did you know that you can smoke deer meat and that it is going to taste really great? There are so many people that don’t really know how to prepare venison meat correctly. Especially, when it comes to deer meat.

When you are smoking deer meat, you are taking the wild taste out of the meat, and ensure that it tastes as great as any other smoked meat. Tender and full of flavor. However, there are a couple of secrets to smoking deer meat and other venison meat in order to have the tastiest meat ever. This is everything you need to know about smoking deer meat and other venison meat.

Can Deer Meat Really Be Smoked?

If you never have tried smoked deer meat before, then you are going to love your first taste of smoked venison. Especially, if you have prepared it correctly.

We all know that deer and other venison meat can be tough and dry to eat if you don’t prepare it correctly. And, that most people prefer cooking it for hours before it will taste delicious. However, smoked deer has a completely different taste, and it is an easy way to ensure that all your venison meat is enjoyable.

Tips That You Should Consider When Smoking Venison Meat Like Deer

smoking deer meat temperatures

There are a couple of things that you should make sure about before you can start smoking your deer and other venison meat. This is essential tips that you should not leave out and that might end up ruin your deer smoked meat.

The first thing that you should remember is that removing fat from venison is essential. Unlike other meat, the fat on venison isn’t tasting great. It has a taste that will ruin your meat. Even, if you enjoy eating meat with a bit of fat on. Not if you are preparing venison and deer meat. Then, you should remove all the small pieces of fat.

The second thing that you should always remember is to brine your meat for 24 to 48 hours. There are many different methods and recipes available for brining. The brining is going to tenderize your meat, and ensuring that the meat is moisturized and full of flavor. Something that is essential in smoking venison. And, the one secret that many people don’t know about.

What Wood Do You Need for Smoking Your Venison Meat?

Experienced smokers will know that different wood is giving different smoking flavors. And, that certain meat does require different wood for the best tasting smoked meat.

This is the same when it comes to venison meat. Most experienced smokers prefer to make use of a variety of different wood. This is the great thing about venison meat. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what type of wood you are using. However, this is the wood that is recommended:

  • Oak
  • Cherry
  • Apple
  • Maple
  • Hickory

Step by Step Guide in Smoking Your Deer Meat

smoking deer meat recipes

With this step by step guide is smoking your deer meat, you will not make any mistakes in smoking your deer meat or any other venison meat for that matter.

  • The first thing that you should do, is to brine your meat beforehand. As said before 24-48 hours before smoking your meat, you should brine your meat in your favorite brine.
  • Then, you should prepare your smoker. By adding the wood chips that you want, and reheating the smoker to the required temperature. If possible, you should set your heating to indirect heat or medium heat.
  • Adding the deer meat to the smoker and make sure that the heat of the smoker stays between 250°F and 300°F.
  • Depending on the size of the meat, you will need at least an hour and a half smoking time per lb. until the meat is smoked through. The temperature of the meat should be at least 140°F.
  • You should rest the meat for 20 minutes before you cut the meat. This is to make sure that the meat is staying as moist as possible.

Safety Issues That You Need to Remember When Smoking Venison Meat

Remember that it is really important that the inside of the meat should reach a temperature of 140°F before you can say that the meat is smoked through. With meat and poultry, this temperature is essential to know for sure that the meat and poultry are safe to eat. This is especially important when it comes to venison meat like deer.

Yes, you can smoke deer meat, and you will be surprised about how great it will taste. This is if you know how to smoke it correctly. With this A to Z guide, you will know everything there is to know to smoke the best tasting deer and venison meat. Enjoying your venison meat completely for the first time.

How Long to Smoke Ribs?

There is nothing better than eating smoke ribs. Especially, if you have smoked it yourself. This is if you have smoked it correctly, and for the right time. There are a couple of things that you need to know when you are smoking ribs. One of these things is the time that you should smoke your ribs for. For most ribs, the recommended smoking times are between 3 to 5 hours.

With this complete guide for the time needed for smoking ribs and some other tips to ensure that your ribs are going to be as tasty as possible. It is easy to smoke ribs for the first time, but only if you know all the tips and secrets to smokey ribs.

Will All Types of Ribs Need the Same Smoking Time?

People are smoking venison ribs, beef ribs, and pork ribs. Should the ribs need the same amount of time, or does the different types of ribs need different smoking times?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what type of ribs you are going to smoke. It can be venison, beef or even pork. The smoking time will not depend on the type of rib you have. There are other things that will depend on how long the ribs should be smoked. People like to say that they are smoking their venison ribs an hour longer than with their pork ribs. However, this isn’t really how things work with smoking.

Things That Will Influence the Time That Ribs Need to Be Smoked

how long to smoke ribs at 250

There are a couple of things that are influencing the time that ribs need to be smoked. And, if you don’t know these things that will influence these things, you will not be able to enjoy your smokey ribs.

The first thing that will influence the time that your ribs need, is how big your ribs are. The larger the ribs, the longer it will take to be smoked. It might also be a great idea to cut the ribs in two if this is one large piece of rib that you want to smoke.

The other thing that will influence the time that your ribs need to be smoked, is the thickness of the ribs. Especially the thickness of the bones. The thicker the bones, the longer it will take to get the right temperature within the meat.

Tips for Smoking the Best Tasting Ribs

how long to smoke ribs at 200

Now that you know what will influence the length that your ribs will need to be smoked, you might want to know other tips that will make your ribs even tastier. Sometimes, the time that your smoking your ribs, isn’t the only thing you need to know to enjoy your ribs. These are some tips that you should remember as well.

  • You should keep an eye on your ribs and baste it with your marinade or even beer every 45 minutes to an hour. This is to make sure that the ribs don’t dry out. This is essential with beef and pork ribs.
  • The higher the quality rib, the better the rib is going to taste. Grade A rib is always the best one to purchase if you are going to smoke it. If the rib has a small layer of fat on, it is so much better.
  • The seasoning and marinade for the rib are also essential. This is going to influence the taste of the rib. So, testing different flavors until you find a combination that you like, is recommended.
  • You can over-smoke your ribs. And, then it is going to have a burning taste. Then, your ribs will be ruined. This is why you should make sure that you are checking your ribs frequently.
  • It is sometimes better to lower the heat of your smoker and smoke the ribs for longer. Then, it will not burn or dry out.

Conclusion. How Long Should You Smoke Your Ribs

The general rule for smoking ribs is that you should smoke the rib at medium heat for at least three hours to five hours. It depends on how thick and large the ribs are. However, you don’t want to just know how long you should smoke ribs. You also want to know other tips to ensure that your ribs are tasting as great as possible. The type of ribs and the marinade and spices of the ribs are just as important.

Many people are asking experienced smokers how long should they smoke ribs. The thing is that you can’t just say three hour or four hours. There are things that you should take in consideration before you can decide how long it will take to smoke your ribs.

With this guide, you will get to know how long it is going to take to smoke ribs, and you will get some other tips to ensure that your ribs are going to taste great.

Is that Beef or Horse Meat in Your Burger?

Is that Beef or Horse Meat in Your Burger?

For all those sitting back watching the horse meat scandal spread like fire across European countries thinking it couldn’t happen here in the US, consider this:

After weeks of adamant denials in the UK, Burger King finally fessed up and admitted they have been serving so called “beef” burgers containing horse meat to their British customers for nobody knows how long. A monster global chain, Burger King has zillions of restaurants around the world including just about every city and town in the USA.

After another global chain Aldi also announced between 30% to 100% horse meat had somehow found it’s way into their meat patties, lasagna and spaghetti bolognese, they banned the stuff from their stores in Ireland and the UK.  As it happens here in little old NY we also have an Aldi store not far from my apartment. In fact there are at least 1200 Aldis around our country. Their horse meat tainted products were sold under the Selfus brand. When I checked Aldi’s brand list here in America, Selfus was not listed either because all their products had already been removed from Aldis USA or they were never there in the first place.

Just because Burger King and Aldi are international corporations selling their food around the world, that doesn’t mean their products (including their dodgy horse meat meals) are interchangeable across borders. Different countries after all have different tastes, preferences, styles and ways of doing business. More universal foods, however, can easily jump borders with packaging altered to fit different country’s expectations.

One might be under the impression, given their experience and humungous budgets, these giant corporations conduct their business in highly streamlined ways no matter their location.  A quick glance at the available facts surrounding this horse meat scandal in Europe however instantly dispels that quaint notion.

The complex journey of the horse meat adulterated food is difficult to follow (on purpose?) and highly unsettling. According to Financial Times (paywall link): “The Findus products revealed to contain horsemeat … came from a Comigel factory in Luxembourg. Comigel in turn was supplied with meat from a company in southwestern France called Spanghero, whose parent [company] is called Poujol.” Benoît Hamon, France’s consumer affairs minister, said “that Poujol ‘acquired the frozen meat from a Cypriot trader, which had sub-contracted the order to a trader in the Netherlands. The latter was supplied from an abbatoir and butcher located in Romania.’”

If this isn’t a recipe for food disaster somewhere along the line, what is? And with a tangled difficult to trace trail like that, tacking the US onto this kind of shadowy, convoluted chain of horse meat manipulation wouldn’t be any more surprising than the rest of the story.

Over the Top – CVS’s Maybelline Lipstick Price

At first I thought the $9.99 price for Maybelline Colorsensational Lipstick at CVS was a mistake. I hadn’t bought that lipstick in a coon’s age or two, so I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the price take a bit of a jump, but not THAT high of a jump. When I found out the cost was indeed correct, it added to my growing sense that CVS’s prices have steadily been rising a lot more steeply than other discount stores.

Sure enough, a few days later I hit my local Rite Aid and the price for that exact same Maybelline Colorsensational Lipstick was $7.19. That’s 39% cheaper. Which meant CVS was making $2.80 above and BEYOND a normal mark-up. And they were making that off ME. And I would be losing $2.80, the price of a nice juicy melon or box of berries, every time I would be dumb enough to pay that higher price for a tube of lip color.

The story doesn’t end there. When I double-checked the oline lipstick prices at CVS, the price listed for that Maybelline lipstick suddenly turned out to be $8.79 – over a dollar cheaper than their in-store price.  It’s true some stores charge lower prices online than in-store but I couldn’t help wondering if that cheaper CVS online figure wasn’t conjured up more for the benefit of the Maybelline folks,who might not be exactly delighted with the exorbitant markup CVS was actually pulling in for their product.

It’s interesting though, that Rite Aid’s price for that Maybelline lipstick both online and in-store was the same $7.19. Which I think is always less confusing for customers.

If you’re wondering how CVS can get away with charging 39% more for a product than Rite Aid and why customers simply don’t desert them for the cheaper store, the answer may lie with their real estate. CVS stores are everywhere in New York and their locations are always prime spots near subway stops. The two nearest me are only blocks away, both on Lexington in the eighties, giving them a wide radius of buyers in every direction. Whereas the nearest Rite Aid is a bit of a hike much farther east. It’s a more out of the way location and  too much of a hike for customers pressed for time or unwilling to traipse those extra blocks.

Needless to say, it’s now my lipstick refill stop and, pending further research in price differential, my discount store for who knows how many more items.

Foods Containing Beaver Anal Glands: Don’t Ask!

A while back I wrote about the presence of hair, beetles and beaver anal glands in the foods we eat. Of the three, beaver anal glands, a whiffy combo of glands and urine that beavers use to mark their territory, captured by far the biggest share of people’s attention. Since then numerous search queries have hit my blog seeking a list of specific foods containing these glands, which are ground up into a product known as castoreum used in raspberry, strawberry and, most often, in vanilla flavoring.

As it happens no up to date consumer list of specific foods containing castoreum exists anywhere. Why? Well to start out, would you buy a food product if you knew it contained beaver anal glands? These glands are not exactly anyone’s idea of a heavenly nosh. Anticipating this, the food industry managed to get castoreum added to foods under that innocuous, legal and sometimes not so innocent label: “natural flavoring”. So even if castoreum IS present in foods and beverages like ice cream, yogurt and soda, you and I will never know it. Nor will any food manufacture divulge this info if you contact them(why nix sales?). They will inform you that THEY never add castoreum to their foods and beverages. If pressed, they will probably add they can’t of course speak for their vendors, who supply them with flavorings containing ingredients that are proprietary information.

After Jamie Oliver, a British chef with a large following, appeared on the David Letterman Show last year and mentioned that vanilla ice cream was made with castoreum, the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) contacted 5 manufactures of vanilla flavoring to ask if there was any truth to this statement. All five manufacturers said no, that castoreum is not used today in any form of vanilla for human use.

On the other hand, Fenaroli’s handbook of flavor ingredients (a $340 industry eBook) published in 2005, provides a list of reported foods and beverages containing castoreum extract:

Reported Uses PPM (parts per million) (Fema* 1994):

Food CategoryUsualMax
Alcoholic Beverages79.5993.69
Baked Goods62.2868.47
Gelatins, Puddings43.5847.34
Soft Candy37.2844.10
Frozen Dairy24.3926.26
Nonalcoholic Beverages24.2129.77
Hard Candy24.1724.17
Chewing Gum18.6042.09

So what are we to believe? Are beaver anal glands still being used to flavor foods and beverages or not? And If so, how much and which foods? How about it, Food Industry?

*Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association

Hair, Beetles and Beaver Anal Glands in our Food

Hair, Beetles and Beaver Anal Glands in our Food

Doesn’t sound like very tasty eating, right? Well, according to Bruce Bradley, a former food executive, these questionable ingredients have been given more pleasant-sounding names and added to processed foods labeled “all natural”. So all those “natural” foods you’ve been eating lately under the assumption they’re purer and healthier can easily contain any of these three additives without you knowing they’re there.

  • Ever noticed any yogurts or beverages SO vibrantly red, they looked as though a scarlet neon wand had colored them. Their labels usually list Carmine, Crimson Lake or Natural Red #4 coloring. Which happen to be industry synonyms for a red food dye made of crushed cochineal beetles.
  • Speaking of beetles, the critters also make an appearance in sweets on ultra shiny candies and sprinkles. Produced from secretions of the female Lac bug, they can be spotted on food labels under the far homier-sounding “Confectioner’s Glaze”.
  • How could anyone, you wonder, intentionally add human hair and/or duck feathers (called Cystine in Process Food-land) to the food we eat. Especially considering how one little hair in food can freak us out. I give you the bread and baked foods industry that uses the ground up stuff to “improve” the texture of their products and because Cystine is considered a natural ingredient by the FDA, no one who buys baked foods will suspect it’s full of hair and feathers.  (This unsettling info is added to the equally unsettling recent news about wood pulp being added to bread, the long  respected staff of life that’s looking less respectable by the minute)
  • Last and certainly not least we get to those beaver anal glands, an odiferous combo of glands and urine that beavers use to mark their territory. The process food people instead use this charmer called Castoreum to spike up vanilla and raspberry flavoring in food and beverages. Surprise –you’ll never find those glands listed on any food label in any store. You will however find it legally buried under that familiar disguise called “Natural Flavoring”.

If you attempt to contact any food companies to inquire if Castoreum is present in a specific food, you will be informed — as Bradley was — that food processors don’t explicitly use Castoreum.  Because All their flavors are vendor supplied and proprietary information, the companies oh so conveniently can’t speak for their vendors.

If you sense food manufacturers in their quest for richer profits are putting up ever-higher barriers between the public and the truth about the foods they produce, Bradley would agree with you. And as a former food-marketing insider at multinational corporations, he should know.

So How Much Wood Pulp Did You Eat Today?

If you started your day with Aunt Jemima’s blueberry pancakes, chowed down on a McDonald’s fish patty for lunch, snacked on a Weight Watcher’s Ice Cream Sandwich, polished off a Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese for dinner and sipped a beddie-bye cup of Nestle’s hot chocolate, chances are you ate a decent helping of wood pulp. Processed from that pulp into a food extender, cellulose (the white powder shown above) is being substituted for costlier ingredients in more and more of America’s processed foods. An industry insider estimates that food producers save as much as 30% using cellulose over more expensive extenders like oats and sugar cane fibers. The Street put out a partial list of manufacturers featuring cellulose in a surprising range of products.

While I’ve long noticed cellulose listed on various food ingredient labels, I only recently discovered the stuff was actually made out of gritty wood pulp. Which doesn’t sound like it would be too terrific for one’s digestion. Which in fact it isn’t. Cellulose is indigestible which makes it, according to food manufacturers, a great, cheap sugar substitute for low sugar items so popular with consumers.  Because it mimics fat so well, cellulose is also increasingly being shoveled onto the low-fat food bandwagon.

Beyond being used as an extender, cellulose also makes ice cream taste creamier, imparts a smooth mouthfeel and consistency to salad dressings, provides a firmer texture to baked goods and helps prevent clumping in shredded cheese.

Versatile as all get out, cellulose is also spun into vastly different products such as pet litter, automotive brake pads, glue, plastics, detergents, welding electrodes, construction materials, roof coating, asphalt and emulsion paints, among  other-um, interesting items.

But have no fear (as of today at least). The FDA has waved it’s “safe for human consumption” wand over cellulose in the food on America’s plates. And they have found no reason to limit the amounts that can be added to  food products. A director of research at J. Rettenmaier USA, a cellulose supplier, exclaimed that he had never dreamed a loaf of bread could now contain 18% of cellulose fiber. (Saving that bread manufacturer the cost of wheat for 18% of all the bread rolling down his line.)

All this may be fine by you. As for me, I can’t help feeling something’s not quite right about eating a piece of bread that contains 18% of processed wood pulp, a concoction also used to crank out asphalt, plastic, detergents and pet litter.

How do you feel about the growing use of cellulose in foods?