Eating placenta is a tradition as time-honored as it is healthy and delicious. Said to have the power to ward off depression and restore the body due to the wealth of stem cells found within, placenta can be eaten raw or cooked—and today, many people are choosing to have it in a thick, bulbous smoothie that tastes more like berries than "metallic and bloody." However, placenta is also unregulated and its consumption can be unhygienic—which is why a woman's booming business was just shut down by local authorities.
Kathryn Beale, a Wiltshire entrepreneur, is frustrated that her local government has closed down her one-stop-shop for placenta shakes and pills. She cites the fact that she only uses the placenta of the mother requesting the smoothie, and claims that she sterilizes her equipment before grinding the remains of a human organ into a delicious snack.
According to this piece in The Guardian, it would probably take a lot of sterilization considering that the placenta takes about ten minutes to properly transform from bloody chunks that get stuck in the blades to a liquid that tastes like "a delivery room smells." It will surprise you then, not that the health officials shut down Beale's business, but that she had been operating it for two years unencumbered by any rules or regulations and without feeling any compunctions about not having formal permission to make her all-natural products.
Here's some important information about how Beale makes the smoothies:
Beale said she makes each smoothie by blending an 8cm-long piece of placenta with some sliced banana, a punnet of organic berries and 150ml of water.
The remaining placenta is dehydrated, ground into powder and turned into pills. Beale has been running her placenta business for two years and typically has two customers a month.
"I'd say about 40% of women who come to me to have their placenta made into pills also have a smoothie," said Beale. "You honestly can't taste the placenta – all the mums tell me it just tastes like fruit. There's considerably more fruit in each smoothie than there is placenta."
To be fair, the business sounds like fairly small potatoes (with afterbirth gravy), but someone—possibly a customer who got a chunk of flesh stuck between their teeth?—has reported her to the authorities for operating without paperwork or a hygiene inspection. When asked about her hygiene rating, Beale said she didn't know it (but I'm sure she assumed it was an A). Authorities have shut down her business until someone can be sent down to check her equipment and blending methods.
It needs to be made clear that Beale's local food inspectors aren't closing down her shop because eating placenta has no proven health benefits—Beale says animals do it in the wild and also celebrities endorse it, which means it must be good, right? (Although the "animals in the wild' argument is specious, because my guinea pigs eat their own poop on a regular basis.) They're closing it only for health and safety reasons, and Beale plans to have her blender up and running soon.
It's important to note that the smoothies that Beale was making can be easily made in the comfort of your own home and also that, while possibly helpful to your local community of cool moms with progressive views, there is probably no money in the placenta stand. Beale doesn't say what she was charging per glass of liquified flesh globules (plus banana for potassium!) but I can't imagine it being more than $45 tops.
Image via Paramount