Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hair in my food? No, Thanks!

Have you heard, "Mom, there is a piece of hair in my food, yuck! that's gross. Get it out, now."

Would you be surprised if you found out that there was a derivative of human hair found in food?
A chemical called L-cysteine is an amino acid that gives hair its strength, and is often added to baked goods. It comes from human hair and poultry feathers mostly though it can be made artificially, using chemicals. Sometimes, I read L-cysteine listed in certain breads. An article in Mother Jones clearly indicates the presence of the human hair additive in certain foods.

A good portion of the hair comes from temples in India where people shave off their heads to please gods. This temple called Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam in Southern India makes millions of dollars every year selling the donated hair for wigs or sometimes additives. The temple employees call the lucrative hair of female pilgrims as black gold, as it brings in good amounts of money to make the temple walls gold-plated. Profits from the hair, according to the temple website, are used to support temple programs and feed the needy. Until the early 1960s, the donated hair collected by the temple was simply burned. It is sad to see the temples making money out of the emotions and the devotion these devotees carry while opting to donate their hair. Equally corrupt are the practices to convert it into food fertilizer and consume as additives all in the name of monetizing the operation.

1 comment:

hai said...

I dont think that selling the hair offered by devotees is bad policy. I wouldnt mind it if the collected money is spent only on the other devotees like prasadams and lunch.