Archive for December, 2007

Herbal Essences None of Your Frizzness

I had house guests several weeks ago. They came and went and I happened to be showering in the guest bath the other day (painting extravaganza in the master bath) when I noticed they had left behind their shampoo and conditioner.

I- being the voracious label reader that I am- started to mull over the ingredient list. And viola… Veg Lawyer happens to run across the recently mentioned carmine. Carmine , also known as Red 4, is a coloring additive derived from beetle carcasses and is used in various foods. It is also apparently in shampoo and conditioner.

Clairol Herbal Essences “None of Your Frizzness Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner” both contain Red 4.

I guess you never know where these additives will show up.


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It is found in digestive aids as it helps the body break down fats. It is also commonly found in dairy products like cheese.

I am speaking of the calf-tongue-gland-derived enzyme, lipase. This enzyme is commonly derived from calves, although it can be obtained as an alternative from plants, fungus or yeast. The enzyme functions to break down fat to glycerol and fatty acids.


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3.1 Phillip Lim Go Green Go

Please review my guest column today on green/organic issues and their nexus with fashion.

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In part two of my series on deciphering food additives, castoreum was definately one to note. Castoreum, also known as castor, is an extract from the anal musk glands of beavers. It is often merely labeled as a “natural flavor,” which is a liberal term at best.

The US Food and Drug Administration defines the term natural flavor or natural flavoring to mean the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

I was again surprised to learn the various items “beavered”: chewing gums, baked goods, condiments, and candies. Thankfully I learned that castoreum is not used as widely as it could be. However, when it is, we may never know due to the fact it is listed on food labels as a “natural” flavor.

Oh how processed foods are becoming less and less appealing.

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ground beetle

Unfortunately, I am not kidding. For the next several days I will post a series on deciphering food additives. It started when I read an article by Jonathan Hermann in VegNews this month. It was extremely well written, but one of those articles that would leave you queasy should you be sensitive. Not that I am by any means all knowing, but I do plenty of research regarding what I put in my body, and I learned a lot.

So for today and every day hereafter, please hold the beetle. By beetle I mean the additive carmine, a.k.a. cochineal. These additives refer to the ground-up carcasses of beetles. The additive is used as a red coloring agent in processed foods. Never-mind that beet juice would serve the same purpose, as I often see on product labels when shopping at Native Sun or Whole Foods.

I was surprised to learn some of the items “beetled”: pink lemonades, grapefruit juices, maraschino cherries, Yoplait Thick and Creamy Lowfat Strawberry Yogurt, and Tropicana Orange Strawberry Banana Juice. And it takes approximately 70,000 beetles (note: no typo) to produce a mere 1 lb. of carmine.

A little fresh squeezed OJ is looking pretty good right now.

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vegetarians save more on life insurance

That’s right, there is now a “No Meat Rewards” life insurance policy.  The unfortunate aspect of this for all of us who live in the U.S. is that it is only available in the UK right now.

If you abstain from meat you can expect to save around 10% on your life insurance premiums for the entire life of the policy. This does make sense. Insurance companies ask if you smoke or drink alcohol and charge you more if you do.

So why not be rewarded for not eating meat- something that even the U.S. government places low recommended daily intake values on. The USDA even recommends you “vary your protein” and “choose more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.”

Regardless of your personal dietary choices, it is interesting to see this industry remodel, if you will. The new reward policy is spearheaded by Animal Friends Insurance (AFI) and their corporate underwriter, Liverpool Victoria.

I do love a nice premium reduction. Too bad you have to live in the UK…

To view the articles reviewed and utilized for this post, please visit Animal Friends Insurance and the United States Department of Agriculture.

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whole foods market

It all started with a few Yahoo! postings by John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO. Specifically, the Federal Trade Commission states that Mackey posted more than 1,100 messages over an eight year period on Yahoo! Finance stock forums under a false identity. The messages trashed competetor Wild Oats. Mackey opined that no one would buy Wild Oats at $8 a share. Funny though, because 18 months later Whole Foods was doing just that. The takeover announcement came when Wild Oats stock was valued at $18.50 a share.

Enter the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit which blocked the $565M deal from closing. Then enter Whole Foods’ own internal investigation and quite a few stockholder apologies. (more…)

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