Are you gonna eat that?

It’s been a little while since I’ve gotten on my high horse about avoiding convenience foods, pre-packaged foods, and processed foods. In fact, the “No Convenience Food Challenge” was over a year ago now. But the other day I found yet another good reason to read ingredient lists and avoid anything that doesn’t sound like real food.

Do you know what L-cystine is?

To be brief, it’s an amino acid that, in the world of processed food, is sometimes used as a leavening agent. You can find a short and relatively bland definition of L-cystine here:

What Wikipedia doesn’t mention outright (although there’s a little hint there) is that in the food industry, most L-cystine is derived from human hair.

So go ahead and take a look at the ingredients on the next loaf of bread you buy, or that pack of hamburger buns, or anything else you’ve got lying around that required a leavening agent to create (that is, the dough had to foam or rise). If you were eating a slice of bread, or a pancake made from a boxed mix and found an actual hair in it, would it gross you out a little? Why shouldn’t L-cystine do the same?

Personally, I prefer doughs and batters leavened with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), baking powder (baking soda mixed with an acid), or yeast.

When you give up responsibility for the preparation of your food, you also give up control over what goes into that food. I’m not suggesting you bake your own bread; simply that you take the time to read ingredient labels and make a conscious choice to only eat ingredients that you recognize as food.

Unless you think hair tastes good.

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