Of course, we've all heard of someone's sister-in-law who saved her newborn's placenta in the freezer for years, finally bringing it out to sautee it up for a celebratory sweet sixteen meal. Or have poured many a glass of wine with other moms debating whether burying the afterbirth next to a tree or turning it into a lasagna ingredient is more time-consuming.
Oh...that was just my crazy playgroup?
Consuming placenta is not anything new or local or WOW! Many women from many cultures, even today, even right in your very own neighborhood, are downing their placentas in an effort to allay post-partum depression, aid milk production, and to give other moms lots to talk about.
Ingesting placenta is not my cup of tea (but I have heard it is lovely with a dash of ginger and some honey). But I was both entranced and entertained to hear three men over at Huffington Post discuss how one placenta encapsulation specialist turns her clients' placentas into supplements. In the video, Lisa Fortin, the founder of Placenta Healing Arts in Brooklyn, calmly washes, dries, slices, and dehydrates a new mother's placenta into bits that look a lot like burned bacon. Then she uses a coffee grinder to get the pieces down into palatable grains that are packaged into pills that Fortin believes will serve the mom in managing hormones and her health in the first days of her baby's life.
The reporters are clearly astounded...but in a professional way. Reporter Joel Stein, however, makes no attempt to hide his fascination and horror in watching Lisa Pereira, who he calls his wife's "Placenta Lady" put the pancake-shaped organ through the process of pill-making. After looking at the placenta, Stein says bluntly that if he wasn't so exhausted, he'd be barfing.
Stein's commentary is funny to me because I'm pretty sure it is how I'd react if I was in the kitchen with one of these Placenta Ladies. It's not that I discredit them or don't believe placenta ingestion really has served women, particularly those with a history of post-partum depression or at risk for any health issues after having a baby. It's just that watching it all reminds me of those nutty ER scenes in "Grey's Anatomy" when some guy had a pole poking through his gut or some lady had a penny in her brain -- my gag reflex feels iffy but I still cannot stop watching.
As Pereira says, focus on the beauty of it. I would guess Stein is thinking that over and over as he watches his wife swallow the stuff he saw milled into pills.
So, please, join me in this confluence of bacon-bit barfiness and science and well-being alternative medicine fascination. Just be forewarned: Once you see a real, live cooked placenta, you cannot unknow it.
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