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July 2, 2009 11:35 PM   Subscribe

Afterbirth for Dinner (Time Magazine, NSFW or appetite)

A firsthand account of the practice replete with video.

Alleged by its practicioners to have medical benefits as well as being common in the animal kingdom, placentophagy has been covered by the BBC (SFW), though not with video.

Not to be missed is the Geocities placenta preparation page including recipes for placenta pizza, placenta roast, placenta lasagna, and of course, placenta cocktails.

Link to an actual preparer of placenta pills (Very NSFW)

Previously
posted by Ndwright (83 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 


A big "what the fuck" goes out to the pic, at the top of page, called "Illustration of Baby". Really?
posted by Partario at 11:49 PM on July 2, 2009


Did you know? Placenta is latin for a slab-like cake.

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 placenta

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Put the placenta in a blender and then pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch and the placenta is no longer screaming.
posted by ageispolis at 11:52 PM on July 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


Cake is done when it springs back to the touch and the placenta is no longer screaming.

I'm more concerned about how long it will be before *I* stop screaming. Is 20-30 hours a good estimate?
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:03 AM on July 3, 2009


Let me ask my placenta.

Oops, I ate it.
posted by ageispolis at 12:06 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


People eat all sorts of creature parts, including offal, and a placenta is NSFW/appetite? Is it the cannibalism-ish taboo that's the thing here or what?
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:08 AM on July 3, 2009


Afterbirth for Dinner

It isn't just for breakfast anymore!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:10 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that all high schools should teach every child that there is a federal law stating that if you're under the age of 20 and have a child, both the mother and the father must eat the placenta. Scratch-n-sniff photos would be optional.
posted by heyho at 12:14 AM on July 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


I thought that was interesting. Didn't care too much for the Time article and the whole "omg gross hippies I must be insane just for talking to them" vibe that I got from it.

(See the top 10 iPhone apps for diseased koalas)

It's not like it's bad for you, but I guess people's only aversion to it is that it looks kinda gross.

(Read Time's 1917 report "Heroin: The new wonder drug for mothers in labor" )

Hell, if millions of these things are thrown away in the first world every year, why not just process a bunch into edible form and feed so many malnourished kids out there?
posted by shoebox at 12:16 AM on July 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Saturday Night Live had a rejected (or censored, the story goes) sketch back in the 70s consisting of a commercial for "Placenta Helper".

The guy who co-wrote it is the newest member of the U.S. Senate.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:18 AM on July 3, 2009 [14 favorites]


From the Wikipedia article:

"Humans eating parts of a human body is usually considered cannibalism. Technically, however, according to at least two sources the definition of a cannibal is of a person who consumes the flesh of another person. Flesh is further defined as being composed of muscle tissue and fat. A placenta is not composed of muscle tissue. It is a temporary organ developed specifically for the growth and maintenance of a fetus during gestation. After the birth of the child the placenta is expelled from the mothers body. Using this line of reasoning and definitions, placentophagy would not be considered cannibalism"

Well, I'm reassured.
posted by Nomiconic at 12:21 AM on July 3, 2009


Yeah, this time I was on the restaurant, eating my placenta cake, minding my own business, when it turns out the bastards cheaped out, and instead of a placenta, my cake had a dead baby. I look at the waiter, and ask - "What's this? A joke?"
posted by qvantamon at 12:30 AM on July 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


My friend Kate was the London Bureau Chief of a major news organisation and she often moved in very well-to-do circles. When her best friends - a married couple who referred to their furniture according to who'd designed each piece (I actually once heard the bloke say he was so tired that all he wanted to do was "collapse in the Eames and crank up the B&O") - had their first child, Kate was invited to their place for a celebratory dinner. It was, Kate says, an opulent, indulgent and thoroughly enjoyable meal, champagne, caviar, oysters, duck - the full Knightsbridge experience. Pudding was served, cognac poured and cigars lit when the new mother stood at the head of the table and announced to everyone that they had a "very special final course". The maids emerged from the kitchen and brought each guest an small piece of sauteed afterbirth. And they all ate it.
posted by bunglin jones at 12:32 AM on July 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


And regarding the article, aside from the fact that I don't really see placenta consumption as the epitome of grossness, the writer struck me as being extremely unlikeable. I realise that there was meant to be some humour in the piece, but, really, lines like "when Cassandra's looks fade in her 50s, there's no way I'm putting up with this crap" don't do him any favours.
posted by bunglin jones at 12:38 AM on July 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I made you a placenta, but I eated it.
posted by ODiV at 12:39 AM on July 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Baby-Cue and deer placenta.
posted by tellurian at 12:42 AM on July 3, 2009


I made you a placenta, but I eated it.

almost.
posted by shoebox at 12:48 AM on July 3, 2009


Afterbirth for Dinner

Isn't that some kind of web comic?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:48 AM on July 3, 2009


Nope.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 12:49 AM on July 3, 2009


Sheesh. And to think I'm squeamish about eating eggs (the whole concept of eating amniotic fluid - boiled, fried, poached or scrambled - or, as a friend of mine put it, chicken periods - puts the things on the same level as mucus for me).

Actually, on further reflection, I think placenta is less unpalatable. More like eating an organ than like eating chicken snot.

I'm really, really sorry about how gross this comment has become. Really.
posted by Graygorey at 12:57 AM on July 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


No thanks. To all of this. Just, no thanks.
posted by dead cousin ted at 1:00 AM on July 3, 2009


as a friend of mine put it, chicken periods

Yeah, that's a completely false comparison that PETA likes to promote in order to try and gross people out. Yet another example of PETA using the feminine as an object/tool in its campaigns. And what a stupid comparison anyhow on their part. Eww periods. Are we twelve here? Suffice it to say that eggs would be more rightly compared to ovulation anyhow.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:06 AM on July 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


mmm. Whats for dessert?
posted by clearly at 1:10 AM on July 3, 2009


cmgonzalez: PETA has no motivation in my distaste for the consumption of the amniotic fluid of chickens; I thought my comment was adequately clear in describing my qualms.

I apologize for including a reference to the subject matter that you found distasteful without thoroughly referencing its source or considering how you might feel about it, but I think you're derailing this a bit by attacking me on one particular portion of my comment whilst failing to address the rest of it.

I don't know if "we" are twelve here, but I'm fairly certain that I'm old enough to talk about the reality of and popular attitudes towards dairy here.
posted by Graygorey at 1:32 AM on July 3, 2009


Heh. I remember an article from some magazine a long while back detailing what various celebrities had in their fridge. (I hope I'm remembering this right -- I don't want to be libelous.) They checked in on David Byrne's fridge and caught him at just the right time -- he had his daughter's (wife's?) placenta in tupperware in there. He hadn't decided what to do with it. I've always wondered if he ate it. The one time I got to talk to him, I forgot to ask!

I haven't thought to Google it since then. Now that I have, I discover that he apparently turned it into a piece of art.

Placenta-eating seems like such an incredibly intimate thing to do. About a decade ago I was in London visiting a friend, and somehow eating placentae came up in conversation. I told her I thought there was something kind of ritualistically romantic about it. She was appalled. Immediately afterward we went to one of the early BodyWorlds exhibitions. My friend wandered to a display case and then called me over with a "hey painquale, you hungry?".

It was a big ol' plastinated placenta.

It was hideous.
posted by painquale at 1:37 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


In a fog, I drove the placenta home, where I wrapped the container in a bag and wrapped that bag in a bag and wrapped that bag in every remaining bag we had in the house. I slept at the hospital that night, grateful that my son will never remember what his parents just did.
(See the top 10 iPhone apps for dads.)


what
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:06 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I'm gonna eat the placenta. I thought that would be good. Very nutritious. I'm gonna eat the cord and the placenta right there." - Tom Cruise
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:11 AM on July 3, 2009


Nestlé - AfterBirth mints
posted by ben30 at 2:58 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


derail

not to get all class-warfare-y or anything, but the words "collapse in the Eames and crank up the B&O" made me wanna beat that guy to death with an axe handle.

/derail
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:09 AM on July 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I didn't care one way or the other until I looked for a picture. It's like a veiny meat frisbee. eck. Maybe pregnant women have more in common with drunk frat boys than previously thought. "Hey, doc, bet ya five dollars I can eat that."
posted by stavrogin at 4:46 AM on July 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm reassured.

Indeed! I eat things expelled from the human body all the time!
posted by JoanArkham at 4:50 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


NO.
posted by elfgirl at 5:18 AM on July 3, 2009


Shut up and eat your liver placenta.

While I might see something in eating the placenta of one's own child, the notion of eating that from some acquaintance I find disgusting. In the atmosphere of a fine dinner party, I find it offensive, as it seems to trivialize the entire point. But then, the people described sound entirely trivial in any case, so whatchagonnado.
posted by Goofyy at 5:42 AM on July 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


A pregnant woman walks into a restaurant.

"I'm very sorry, ma'am, but we don't serve pregnant women here."

"Do you deliver?"

-------------

A pregnant woman walks into a restaurant.

"I'm very sorry, ma'am, but we don't serve pregnant women here."

"Could you serve me after birth?"
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:49 AM on July 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


I can totally see how the article is supposed to be funny, but that kind of humor (ha ha hippies, ha ha heavy wiccans, ha ha gross stuff) just doesn't make me even smile, much less laugh.

Also, I can clearly remember reading various hippy-ized childbirth books in the 1970s, and how plenty of them made approving mentions of placenta eating. As far as I know, it was never served for dinner in our house, but it wouldn't surprise me if a few ceremonial nibbles were taken at least once.

So I'm glad to know that people are still eating placenta, still enamored with goofy hippy ideas about the power of the female, and still willing to put up with badly mannered guys like the author of this piece in order to do so.

(Also, am I missing something, or are those supposedly nsfw links actually totally innocuous, unless you work at a place where saying "doula" is worse than yelling "fuck me, look at this awesome photo of my dick!" across the cubicle farm?)
posted by Forktine at 5:49 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mmm, lovely placenta: just like mom used to make.



(Honestly, I would eat it, but probably more as a "welcome to the family" kinda meal for the newborn. The guy's reactions to it were pretty childish though, especially as he can't seem to even respect his partner's choices.)
posted by Sova at 5:50 AM on July 3, 2009


It doesn't look any grosser to me than liver, which I cook with pretty often, and far less gross than tongue, which I cook now and then.

My guess is that the claimed health benefits are complete hooey, though, and that the reason animals eat their placenta is to hide the smell of birth-related blood from predators, not because otherwise they'd feel a little blue.
posted by palliser at 6:02 AM on July 3, 2009


Eat whatever the fuck you want. Me? I'm a vegetarian.
posted by mistersquid at 6:19 AM on July 3, 2009


Saturday Night Live had a rejected (or censored, the story goes) sketch back in the 70s consisting of a commercial for "Placenta Helper".

The guy who co-wrote it is the newest member of the U.S. Senate.


This is an example of why I love my country.
posted by Bummus at 6:27 AM on July 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Strange, but even though I was pretty familiar with the practice, and am an old hippie, when my wife gave birth to our child, the placenta was...well, I forget. I guess it got dumped into the medical waste bucket. Sorry I'm not more sentimental about it, but, the thing is, the presence of a new human being in our lives pretty much eclipsed every other detail of the post-delivery process, at least for me.

If I had given the matter some thought beforehand, I might have asked the medical staff to save it so we could take it home and bury it in our backyard, another ancient practice that makes sense in the whole cycle of life kinda way.

Although ingesting placenta may not be technically cannibalism, I'm afraid a Wikipedia article doesn't have quite enough weight to counter my innate revulsion at eating something that...well, 'nuff said.
posted by kozad at 6:28 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not about to eat my placenta or anything, but I can't help but feel like this guy is a total jerk.

If my husband declared how gross he thought I was to the entire world, I might have to think twice about staying with him. He's welcome to his own thoughts, but saying stuff like "Sara did not understand that when Cassandra's looks fade in her 50s, there's no way I'm putting up with this crap." in Time magazine is a bit much.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:37 AM on July 3, 2009


Apparently it can be something of a bitch to get the hospital to let you have yours back; this woman had to sue for it. Their lame reason was that placentas could contain disease...but presumably if it's yours, you'd already have the disease in question? More probably they just don't want to bother with storage and labeling.

But your placenta-nibblers tend to be more about homebirth than hospitals anyway.

For a lot of women who do this, I think it's more about body ownership and pride than anything else; the placenta is an amazing organ, and the only temporary one that humans create. And mystical ritualistic behaviors are going to accrue around anything as amazing/difficult as birth. It would be cool if there were some postpartum benefits, but it probably doesn't matter one way or another.
posted by emjaybee at 6:42 AM on July 3, 2009


Wow, I didn't ever think of eating a placenta. But, I've handled many of them.

derail/ Back in the day, we had several foals born on our farm and we always made for darn sure to grab the placenta as soon as possible. Of course, the initial thing to watch for is making sure the placenta isn't covering the foal's nose. They manage to wiggle out pretty quickly if all goes well.

The first time I went into a stall to get one, it was more difficult than I thought it would be. For one, you don't want to disturb the foal-mare bond by being in the way. Second, it's usually around 3 or 4 in the morning and you're all hyped up on the exciting event; maybe even cold/shivering with excitement. Third, it's pretty slimy and fairly heavy due to it's size.

It's a fascinating thing: Not very colorful - kinda whiteish/pinkish/grayish. And, it's tougher than you'd think. We'd spread it out on a patch of clean grass and make sure it was intact because if some remained in the mare, peritonitis could set in. You'd see all the lobes and even tell where the foal's hooves poked through. And, it wasn't smelly or gross in any nasty way. Just clean and shiny. /end derail
posted by mightshould at 7:02 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but wouldn't cooking the meat clearly destroy any supposed enzyme-related benefits to be had? I'm certain the chemical structures of the hormones would be drastically altered by the trauma of being steamed... also, if it is going to be dehydrated, powdered and pilled, why the need for steaming with herbs?

I have some serious reservations about this placenta lady's credentials.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:02 AM on July 3, 2009




Eyuchh, hippies. Probably eats her boogers in order to help her immune system.
posted by autodidact at 7:09 AM on July 3, 2009


mightshould - my first experience with a placenta happened while I was home sick from school and my sister's pygmy goat went into labor. I think I was 12. I successfully delivered two fist-sized baby goats. I had no freaking clue what the floppy pancake thing was until my dad showed up and explained - pointing eruditiously with the stem of his pipe - and using complex words to describe elements of the female biology that sounded as though they came straight out of a science fiction novel.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:10 AM on July 3, 2009



I'm sorry, but wouldn't cooking the meat clearly destroy any supposed enzyme-related benefits to be had? I'm certain the chemical structures of the hormones would be drastically altered by the trauma of being steamed... also, if it is going to be dehydrated, powdered and pilled, why the need for steaming with herbs?



Shhh! You might wake the placenta!
posted by milarepa at 7:12 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know the decade's almost over when the Eating the Placenta articles start rolling out.

More power to whomever wants to nosh on the stuff, but I spent far too many years on the farm watching the dog - ecstatic with a spring bounty of bovine placenta - dragging his tasty new chew toys across the yard until they looked like giant diseased chunks of jerky to ever consider trying it myself.

If I won't eat the cow or pig form, I 'm sure as hell not going to try the people version. Barring some sort of plane crash in the Andes or an ill-fated passage through the Sierra Nevadas, of course.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:15 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is America, dammit, where we don't eat placentas; we just smear them all over our hair and skin.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:19 AM on July 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Tastes of chicken!
posted by elfgirl at 7:21 AM on July 3, 2009


When my wife has our third baby this fall, I fully intend on eating the placenta.

I made this same promise with the first two, but didn't follow through because my sister-in-law worked for the hospital, and my brother begged me not to be "that guy." Well, she doesn't work there anymore!

Right now, I'm trying to decide the best way to enjoy it. Since it's an organ meat, I'm wavering between Placenta Jambalaya or Placenta Dirty Rice. I've also considered making it into a spaghetti sauce. All I know is...a whole bunch of people are going to unwittingly get a taste of my wife.
posted by ColdChef at 7:23 AM on July 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Let’s see, Wiccans are fat and frumpy (read: prob’ly lesbians! Amirite?), hippies are weirdoes, middle aged women are unattractive, and the writer’s wife—while fortunately still okay to have to look at—can be kind of a dipshit in that WOMANY way that you just don’t argue with, Son. (But we sure do love 'em. Heh heh.)

Well, I suppose it's nice to see the archaic yuk yuks of MAD's “The Lighter Side Of..” have a modern home at TIME Magazine.
posted by applemeat at 7:36 AM on July 3, 2009


ColdChef, you are a bad bad man. Between this and the pics of your daughters in the French Quarter, I am suprised you are still out of prison.
posted by dame at 7:38 AM on July 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


ColdChef, you are a bad bad man.

Ahem.
posted by ColdChef at 7:41 AM on July 3, 2009


Also: Guilt by association.
posted by ColdChef at 7:43 AM on July 3, 2009


I will never forget the substitute teacher I had in high school once, who completely threw the day's geometry curriculum out the window and proceeded to tell us her life story, pacing back and forth in front of the chalk board and obviously relishing our discomfort at the more explicit bits. Which included:

a) the birth of her son in graphic detail, complete with the cooking and eating of his afterbirth; and

b) how when she was a child, she needed a tonsillectomy but her family didn't have the money for it, so her father used a hot poker to sear her tonsils off.
posted by bookish at 7:50 AM on July 3, 2009


I don't necessarily see why the same folks who consume placentas would not meticulously collect menstrual blood for consumption, in much the same way I gather the coffee grounds every evening for my rhododendrons.
posted by docpops at 8:02 AM on July 3, 2009


-More inside- indeed.
posted by ikahime at 8:06 AM on July 3, 2009


until my dad showed up and explained - pointing eruditiously with the stem of his pipe -
This makes me want to start smoking a pipe, just to be able to do this.
posted by Pliskie at 8:18 AM on July 3, 2009


(See the top 10 iPhone applications for new moms.)
(See the top 10 iPhone apps for dads.)
(See the top 10 scientific discoveries of 2008.)
(Read TIME's 1933 article "Medicine: Protective Placenta.")
Watch TIME's video "Eating Placenta."
See how to prevent illness at any age.
posted by Nelson at 8:53 AM on July 3, 2009


There are apocryphal stories of afterbirth and fetus consumption in south china. If one of millions of Factory girls living in dormitories in the manufacturing sector gets pregnant, she will most likely abort rather than lose her job. Supposedly there are restaurants in South China where the placenta [or fetus] can be eaten. My imagination conjures an abortion clinic facing the alley, and a restaurant facing the main street, with just a swinging door separating them.

As the apocryphal saying goes, "If it has its back to heaven, it can be eaten."
posted by ohshenandoah at 9:20 AM on July 3, 2009


A quick Googling (animals placentophagia) has convinced me many animal species practice placentophagia, including animals we ordinarily regard as vegetarians, such as rabbits. This suggests that it probably is instinctive in quite a few species.

Interestingly, opiate antagonists have been shown to partially block placentophagia, but not other pup grooming behaviors in rats.

But where it really gets interesting is when you add the role of cannabinoids in human labor into the mix:

A study was conducted to investigate the expression of cannabinoid receptors in human uterine smooth muscle during pregnancy and to evaluate the effects of endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids on myometrial contractility in vitro. It was concluded that both endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids exert a potent and direct relaxant effect on human pregnant myometrium.

I think it would be a delightful irony if you could claim that the ultimate reason people get the munchies after smoking marijuana is that the cannabinoids in marijuana set in motion part of the machinery of a human instinct to eat the placenta.

('This is my body, eat of it'-- Christ as the placenta of the spiritual rebirth of the entire human race.)

One good reason for eating the placenta to have become instinctive among animals in the first place is clear from Alvy Ampersand's anecdote of "too many years on the farm watching the dog - ecstatic with a spring bounty of bovine placenta." In a state of nature, your predators join your family in celebration of the blessed event, and even if you can take for granted preventing them from carrying off the guest of honor, you don't want to give them the sustenance and fuel to come after you and the baby later which allowing them to get the placenta would provide.
posted by jamjam at 9:32 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ohshenandoah, snopes says your 'supposedly' is false.
posted by sunshinesky at 9:36 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Back in the day during the cultural revolution in China, it was not uncommon for midwives to save the placenta to make a soup/stew for new mothers, and the midwives would also partake. I met one of these midwives when she immigrated to Canada in her 90s, during the late-'80's/early-'90s and, although it's probably genetics and not the placenta eating, she could have passed for a healthy albeit diminutive 50-year old.

Regarding the nutritional value of placenta - couldn't find any references for the thermostability of steroid hormones, but I suspect that as a terpenoid lipid, it could conceivably survive boiling. Whether it's orally bioavailable on the other hand... <shrug> probably.
posted by porpoise at 9:39 AM on July 3, 2009


posted too quickly:

Also during that period any food period could be hard to come by, especially nutritious food. Regardless of hormones and cofactors and whatnot, the placenta is rich in lipids and proteins/amino-acids so it would be a bit of a waste to just throw it away.
posted by porpoise at 9:43 AM on July 3, 2009


BitterOldPunk: not to get all class-warfare-y or anything, but the words "collapse in the Eames and crank up the B&O" made me wanna beat that guy to death with an axe handle.


I've just realized I originally misread that offensive sentence as: "collapse in the Eames and crank up the BBQ".

I was both offended and really, really puzzled by the combination!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:44 AM on July 3, 2009


A friend of mine had a baby and we cooked a stir-fry and ate the placenta. It was as close as I could get to eating the baby.
posted by Demogorgon at 10:02 AM on July 3, 2009


What's the big deal? It's just boiled cornmeal..

(RIP jPod)
posted by Space Coyote at 10:15 AM on July 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


We've buried a few placentas under trees in our garden (or my parents' garden), and this has always been presented as being completely normal. And we're WASPs. I just assumed most everyone did this, if they weren't eating them.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:20 AM on July 3, 2009


The fact that "placenta" means "cake" has really thrown me through a loop.

BitterOldPunk: not to get all class-warfare-y or anything, but the words "collapse in the Eames and crank up the B&O" made me wanna beat that guy to death with an axe handle.

Does the fact that I can't wait to slouch in my Aeron and hop on my Mac suffer me to a slightly lesser beating?
posted by jabberjaw at 11:41 AM on July 3, 2009


I don't necessarily see why the same folks who consume placentas would not meticulously collect menstrual blood for consumption, in much the same way I gather the coffee grounds every evening for my rhododendrons.

Ah, but they do! As a friend in college once said: I can't believe I was flushing all of those nutrients away.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:45 AM on July 3, 2009


I should say they feed the plants with their menstrual blood, not themselves.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:50 AM on July 3, 2009


MMmmmm. Menstrual blood sausage.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:22 PM on July 3, 2009


*raises hand as an old hippy who has eaten a placenta or two*
posted by bonefish at 1:06 PM on July 3, 2009


We're crazy hippies who had both kids at home. We fed the placentas to hyenas that lived in a vacant lot next door.

No, we buried them under trees although one of the two trees died which seemed like a bad portent but the child in question is doing fine.

The only odd thing we did was keep the darn thing in the freezer way too long - I mean, with two little kids going out and planting a tree isn't high on your priority list so it was in the bottom of our freezer for easily two years. At that point it was probably too freezer burned to really be enjoyable.

Placentas are big - I wouldn't even try to cook an entire one. Maybe part of it. And it was pretty slimy - are you supposed to take the membranes off or do you just boil it like blood sausage all-in?

The joy of homebirths was that both times the midwife said "uh, do you have something to put this in?" so I ran to the kitchen and got a stainless steel mixing bowl where the placenta sat for a few hours while we chilled out. Every time I make something in that bowl, which is pretty often, I think "cripes, I had a placenta in here once. blech." Thankfully nobody who enjoys our cooking has noticed yet.
posted by GuyZero at 2:59 PM on July 3, 2009


Considering all this a little further, it doesn't seem out of line to me at all to speculate that a human instinct to eat the placenta could be the aboriginal type, and possibly even the ritual template via one of the Greek Mystery religions, say, of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

In this view, the wine and the host are, at base, the spiritualized and transformed placenta of the baby Jesus, and turn Communion's association with the Last Supper into a powerful and unconscious push toward the identification of Jesus' death and crucifixion with a rebirth into an eternal afterlife in the presence of the Father (incidentally partly accounting, perhaps, for the infantile character of the Christian heaven in contrast to the decidedly post-pubescent Muslim version), reinforcing the binding together of the flock into a single family, and the identification of Jesus as the offspring of that family, the Son of Man.

Certainly there is no shortage of people willing to claim the consumption of cannabis as Communion.
posted by jamjam at 3:01 PM on July 3, 2009


Still just looks like organ meat to me. Not hideous, not disgusting, just real and vital.
posted by eritain at 4:22 PM on July 3, 2009


I once got fired for bringing in the sandwiches for lunch. Thanks for the relevant and helpful tag!
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:01 PM on July 3, 2009


Did you know? Placenta is latin for a slab-like cake.

Make a wish!
posted by Sys Rq at 6:18 PM on July 3, 2009


Wow, the writer of that article is a snide, unfunny dick.
posted by desuetude at 7:36 PM on July 3, 2009


Those things are indeed tough eating. But it has been done: BABY-CUE
PLACENTA SERVED TWO WAYS

posted by agentmule at 7:42 PM on July 3, 2009


Of course, pregnancy is notorious for inducing cravings for foods that might otherwise be repellent:

Some women for example, even vegetarians, might experience unusual cravings for steak and red meat during pregnancy. This could simply be a sign that their bodies need more iron to help support their growing baby. Many women will crave food they will loath or wouldn't dream of touching when not pregnant.

Many women describe their pregnancy cravings as overpowering. While scientists haven't yet established why cravings are so strong among pregnant women, they certainly acknowledge that food cravings during pregnancy are the norm rather than the exception to the rule.

It's interesting how strongly this echos the excellent Wikipedia article on placentophagy linked by Ndwright in the FPP:

Most placental mammals participate in placentophagy, including, surprisingly, herbivorous ones. Pinnipedia and Cetacea are exceptions to mammalian placentophagy, as is the camel.

I think it's actually quite likely these cravings are stimulated during the course of pregnancy by the same endogenous cannabinoids that condition the uterus at the time of birth, and which I nominated above for a role in motivating a human instinct for placentophagy.

Odd food cravings during pregnancy might be, in essence, merely hors d'oeuvres.
posted by jamjam at 10:37 PM on July 4, 2009


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