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View Full Version : What foods do humans eat that are made of dung or waste products from other life forms


Wesley Clark
08-12-2014, 07:44 AM
The only ones I can think of are alcohol and maybe yogurt. Any others?

Oswald Bastable
08-12-2014, 07:50 AM
Bird's Nest Soup (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_bird's_nest) is mostly tweety spit...

OB

RealityChuck
08-12-2014, 08:19 AM
That expensive coffee that's made from beans after they've been eaten and excreted.

kayaker
08-12-2014, 08:27 AM
Our friend alcohol is often produced by allowing yeast organism to consume sugar, producing CO2 and alcohol.

ETA: Love the word "dung".

SmartAlecCat
08-12-2014, 08:27 AM
Does castoreum count?

lieu
08-12-2014, 08:34 AM
Would honey qualify... bee vomit?

Jackmannii
08-12-2014, 08:40 AM
Pringles.

Francis Vaughan
08-12-2014, 08:59 AM
Vinegar comes to mind - second order being (typically) bacterially oxidised alcohol.

Honey isn't really a waste product, being as it is manufactured with the intent of being food.

The whole point of waste is usually that there is no further economically usefully recovered nutrition available. So using one as a food is rather limited. As a flavouring yes, but nutritionally useful, hard. Different organisms have different efficiencies in food use, and different needs, so there are possibilities - alcohol for one. I'm wondereing about residues from some fungi - but can't really think of much.

Perhaps bacterially rotted food might count. Belachan? Nattō? Most people when first faced with either of those would not eat them even with a gun pointed at their head. I love Laksa and similar things so belechan is fine, but I still find Nattō, well, something of an acquired taste.

Pixel_Dent
08-12-2014, 09:37 AM
Bread and anything else made with yeast.

bibliophage
08-12-2014, 11:02 AM
Any fermented food would qualify, I think. Only the carbon dioxide, alcohol, and acid (usually lactic acid) components of the finished food are really waste products, not the food as a whole. Several have been listed above. Sauerkraut and kimchi come to mind. See Wikipedia's list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fermented_foods)

Ambergris (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambergris#Applications) is a material produced in a whale's digestive tract and excreted anally. Before its possession was outlawed, it was frequently used in perfumes and rarely as a food additive.

Bezoars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bezoar) have been used as (ineffective) antidotes for poison but not as food as far as I know.

Casu marzu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casu_marzu), a delightful Italian cheese gets part of its flavor from the digestive waste of the maggots that are allowed to feed on it.

bump
08-12-2014, 11:03 AM
The whole point of waste is usually that there is no further economically usefully recovered nutrition available. So using one as a food is rather limited. As a flavouring yes, but nutritionally useful, hard. Different organisms have different efficiencies in food use, and different needs, so there are possibilities - alcohol for one. I'm wondereing about residues from some fungi - but can't really think of much.

Well, we require plant waste to live, in the form of oxygen, which is a waste product of photosynthesis.

Lots of foods use fermentation or spoilage as a mechanism to transform and/or flavor the food. Stuff like yogurt, cheese, some kinds of sausages, soy sauce, fish sauce, wine, beer, sauerkraut, pickles, sour cream, kim chi, etc... are all transformed and flavored by the waste products of various microorganisms. The nutritional content is often improved by the microbial action as well- either by the inclusion of the microbes directly, or by some action of the microbes or their waste products on the original food.

jtur88
08-12-2014, 01:46 PM
Termites live on 100% shit. They have intestinal organisms that digest their food for them.

bump
08-12-2014, 01:48 PM
Termites live on 100% shit. They have intestinal organisms that digest their food for them.

Vitamin K is much the same in humans, in that a plant-derived form of the vitamin is converted into the form we can use by bacteria in our intestines.

Karen Lingel
08-12-2014, 02:19 PM
That expensive coffee that's made from beans after they've been eaten and excreted.

Cecil speaks about civet coffee (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2306/does-civet-come-from-tortured-cats). Second question.

md2000
08-12-2014, 02:42 PM
Our friend alcohol is often produced by allowing yeast organism to consume sugar, producing CO2 and alcohol.

ETA: Love the word "dung".

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet,
eating her turds and whey?

* * *

I thought yogurt was the bacteria itself, not generally a byproduct like alcohol is.

bump
08-12-2014, 05:10 PM
I thought yogurt was the bacteria itself, not generally a byproduct like alcohol is.

It's all 3- the original milk, some proportion of actual bacteria, and some bacterial by-products, chief among them the organic acids that give yogurt the tart taste.

But the vast majority of the protein in yogurt is that of the original milk, and I'm not sure if the actual bacteria make up much in the way of the total mass of a cup of yogurt.

Saturn Dreams
08-12-2014, 09:15 PM
The first thing that came to my mind was cheese. Cheese mites are usually the bane of cheese makers, but for Mimolette they are celebrated for giving it the cheese its delicate aroma and distinctive nutty flavour imparted from the carcasses and excrement of the mites working from the rind, inwards.

Going one step further, Italy has the legendary Casu Marzu which is made by having flies lay eggs in young cheese. The larvae hatch and eat the cheese from the inside and leave behind excrement that break down the cheese to give it its creamy/gloopy texture and stinging mouth sensation.

jovan
08-12-2014, 11:19 PM
Would honey qualify... bee vomit?

Honey is as much bee vomit as milk is cow piss.

On the other hand, dung is frequently used as a fertiliser so an important part of our nutrition indirectly comes from crap.

Blake
08-12-2014, 11:28 PM
Termites live on 100% shit. They have intestinal organisms that digest their food for them.

That is completely incorrect, no matter how you twist it.

DrCube
08-12-2014, 11:45 PM
It's all a cycle, isn't it? I recall reading somewhere that the total biomass of this planet is roughly constant, so everything we eat was turds at some point. Sort of like every drop of water we drink was once pissed out by dinosaurs, and we're all breathing tiny portions of Caesar's last breath as we speak.

I know that doesn't really answer your question, but I am curious if my "biomass is constant" bit is true. Seems relevant somehow.

thelurkinghorror
08-13-2014, 03:43 AM
That expensive coffee that's made from beans after they've been eaten and excreted.
Kopi Luwak probably, from civets. The "cool" new one is "Black Ivory Coffee" that comes from elephants (warning: video annoyingly autoplays (http://abcnews.go.com/Business/elephant-dung-coffee-smooth-rich-expensive/story?id=18730668)). $50/"serving."

...and, at least on my end, the video transitions to yuppies addicted to taking coffee enemas :rolleyes:.

Ambergris (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambergris#Applications) is a material produced in a whale's digestive tract and excreted anally. Before its possession was outlawed, it was frequently used in perfumes and rarely as a food additive.
Indeed. Just yesterday I saw this Punch (http://www.npr.org/2010/12/30/132444994/a-vintage-cocktail-that-packs-a-punch) recipe that used it. It's not illegal in many countries though, and doesn't harm the whale. It's not terribly worth the price to eat though, I'd imagine.

The first thing that came to my mind was cheese. Cheese mites are usually the bane of cheese makers, but for Mimolette they are celebrated for giving it the cheese its delicate aroma and distinctive nutty flavour imparted from the carcasses and excrement of the mites working from the rind, inwards.

Going one step further, Italy has the legendary Casu Marzu which is made by having flies lay eggs in young cheese. The larvae hatch and eat the cheese from the inside and leave behind excrement that break down the cheese to give it its creamy/gloopy texture and stinging mouth sensation.
Also Milbenkäse uses mites. It translates to exactly what you'd expect it to translate to. The town it's made in has a cool monument (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milbenk%C3%A4se).

That is completely incorrect, no matter how you twist it.
Which part? The 100% is demonstrably incorrect for some species, but do all termite species have at least some cellulose digestive capability? Trichonympha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichonympha).