I never want to see another baby-eating joke about atheists

Yeah, sure, accuse atheists of eating babies. Do you know who actually consumes fetal tissue, though? Suburban new agers with a weird fetish for “natural” and “organic” BS.

I just learned about Minnesota Placenta, a place that does placenta encapsulation (pdf). It’s easy! After your baby is born, it comes with this hideous lump of fetal support tissue, the placenta, that looks like a lump of hamburger and a piece of raw liver got into a serious barroom brawl, and neither won. Scoop up that bloody sac slathered with slime and mail it off with about $250 and it will be steamed, chopped, ground, powdered, and packed into tidy pill capsules for you to consume at your leisure.

There are photographs of the process. The only thing that would make this more unappetizing would be if Guy Fieri were involved.*

Bonus! The company that charges $250 will also shape the umbilical cord into a short script message (“love”), and dry it down into a hard, leathery, mummified sign the color of old dried blood that you can hang on the wall and terrify your offspring with for years to come. I really missed out on this opportunity.

By the way, these outfits have lots of anecdotes about feeling more “energized” and “peppy” after consuming these discarded scraps of their baby (for a more entertaining version of this myth, see the movie Ravenous), but there is actually no evidence that it provides any benefit. No benefit. None at all. Lots of ick, though. Probably no worse than chowing down on calf’s liver, though.

*Would it perverse of me to say I really want to see what Fieri would do with placenta as an ingredient?


  1. davidnangle says

    This is like anti-diarrhea pills in reverse? No… that’s not right. Christian apostasy as you consume the wrong person? No… cannibalism for the impatient?

  2. says

    Curse my curiosity, that was disgusting.

    This brochure was created by Anne Ferguson/
    Bywater Birth, LLC. Anne is a birth doula,
    Hypnobabies Instructor and Certified Placenta
    Arts Specialist serving the Twin Cities Metro Area.

    A *certified* placenta arts specialist. My, that certainly sounds all manner of special. Where does one obtain such magical certification?

    Some TCM practitioners suggest taking the capsules with
    a little sake/wine, saying that it helps diffuse the energy
    throughout the body.

    Easy to spot the magical ingredient there, and it’s not powdered placenta.

    Many mammals consume their placenta after
    giving birth.

    Oh FFS. I want to smack every idiot who says this. Yes, they do, in order to prevent leaving nice snacks for predators, which would then lead them to second snacks, known as babies. Fucking idiots.

  3. erichoug says

    Ugh, of all the disgusting new age fads, this has to be the worst.

    But, OTOH, It is one of the only legal forms of cannibalism out there. So…..

  4. Vivec says

    I don’t know if that’s necessarily a religious thing. One of my italian friends families did that and they seem to be pretty secular. I think it can be a traditional thing too.

  5. Raucous Indignation says

    Oh no, that could be a whole lotta worse than calf’s liver. Ever handle a placenta? A human placenta? It’s not a good thing. Don’t eat it. The fuck is wrong with those people!?

  6. kestrel says

    Oh gross. I used to raise a fairly primitive breed of sheep and the ewes would occasionally eat the placenta (as pointed out, to prevent a predator from finding the birthplace and the lamb). And even *they* made the most horrible gagging noises that you can ever imagine while doing this. I would occasionally try, generally unsuccessfully, to stop them because I did not like the noises and I can’t imagine they were enjoying themselves.

    Just because an animal does something, it does not mean the animal is deriving some magical benefit from it, and it certainly does not mean that WE should do it.

  7. Ice Swimmer says

    Marcus Ranum @ 10

    And would the headache-inducing christological (monophysitism vs. dyophysitism vs. miaphysitism) disputes have extended to the placenta.

  8. horrabin says

    This is evidently a lot more popular than I imagined. Not surprisingly, most of the people espousing chowing down on your afterbirth are adamant that it’s not cannibalism.
    Mostly by defining placenta as somehow not “flesh”.

    Oh, yeah…upvote for the Ravenous plug.

  9. HappyNat says

    I come for the science and progressive values, but I stay for things like randomly throwing Guy Fieri under the bus.

  10. microraptor says

    Caine @2:

    Every time I see someone bring up the “animals do it in the wild” argument, I point out that some animals also eat their own feces.

  11. Callinectes says

    From now one, atheists eat kittens, guide dogs, and charitable donations out of the orphan’s fund.

  12. blf says

    From now one, atheists eat […] charitable donations out of the orphan’s fund.

    That reminded me of Warren Zevon’s Mr Bad Example, albeit there it was the “children’s fund” used to fund gluttony and other seven deadly sins…

  13. microraptor says

    blf @18:

    Only six deadly sins. Remember, he was too busy being greedy and angry for sloth.

  14. Intaglio says

    My mother (a nurse) told me Just after end of WWII when there was still rationing an obstetrician used to grow magnificent vegetables and tomatoes. He claimed he used the afterbirth as fertiliser

  15. says

    I would imagine there was at least one Catholic church in the Middle Ages that had what it claimed was the placenta of Jesus. Knowing how much they liked supposed relics in those days I’d be entirely unsurprised if there was more than one church making the claim.

  16. says

    I believe this is a perfect opportunity to link to The Katering Show’s season 2 episode, Yummy Mummies.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the show, I highly recommend watching the whole lot.

    (Please don’t be region gated!)

  17. gijoel says

    Can’t recommend Katering enough.

    I happen to be having breakfast and studying placental cord anomalies as we speak.

  18. Badland says

    Ninja’d by Kagato! I can’t recommend The Katering Show highly enough, and they’re damn decent people too

  19. magistramarla says

    Intaglio @ 20,
    We planted a tree on top of my youngest daughter’s buried placenta in her honor. The tree grew like crazy.
    I was saddened when we drove past years later and saw that the current owners of the house had removed the tree.
    I would have liked to have seen if it had continued to thrive and grow as beautifully as it had during that first year.

  20. davidc1 says

    Marcus Ranum@10During the middle ages there were up to 15 foreskins knocking around Europe ,each one claiming to be from JC .
    Talking about cannibals ,if someone in dire straits were to slice bits of skin off themselves and scoff it down ,could they survive ?
    I know that is how the Andes plane crash lot did it ,but they used dad bodies .
    Really Doc ,the things you bring to our attention .
    For anyone out there who likes the gruesome stuff ,there is a web site called “The soul is bone “,very good if you are on a diet ,it will put you off eating.

  21. Tinjoe says

    Their preexisting diet gave them everything they needed to grow a placenta (oh and a baby) so maybe just stick with eating that combination of meats and vegetables and leave the placenta eating to wild animals.

  22. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    A *certified* placenta arts specialist.

    I’m thinking balloon animals…

  23. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    And I just binge-watched all of the Katering Show. Cause it was more fun than the things I should have been doing. Many thanks/curses to those who dropped me down that youtube rabbit hole.

  24. The Mellow Monkey says

    There are a couple of cultures who have (or at least at some point had) beliefs about medicinal uses for human placenta, either for the child or others. Every last bit of it is bullshit. If there was actually some physiological benefit to birthing parents eating their placentas, wouldn’t that benefit be right after birth? Instead of days or weeks later, after it’s been dried out.

    A member of my family does this, so I’ve had the grotesque experience of smelling dehydrating human placenta, as well as seen some of the process of grinding it and encapsulating it. The smell is something like if someone were making the world’s worst pork jerky. It’s meaty and human-y and just… ugh.

    People can do whatever dumb, non-harmful thing they want to do, but I never want to be anywhere near it ever again.

  25. emergence says

    There’s this one part of a horror comic called Uzumaki where women give birth to talking babies whose placentas regenerate when they’re removed and grow on things like mushrooms. The hospital staff chop the placentas up and use them as a salad topping.

  26. anym says

    I recall a story from not that long ago about the serious issues with food hygiene at placenta-pilling facilities (though I’m not sure ‘food hygiene’ is quite the sort of term that should be associated with medical waste) which highlighted how poorly run and regulated those sorts of places are. Can’t find it now though, which is quite annoying. There was some sort of legal issue in the UK a few years ago, but that seems to have gone away now.


    Many mammals consume their placenta after giving birth.

    Oh FFS. I want to smack every idiot who says this. Yes, they do, in order to prevent leaving nice snacks for predators, which would then lead them to second snacks, known as babies. Fucking idiots.

    For herbivores, is there no dietary benefit in eating a load of hard-to-obtain protein that would otherwise go to waste? I seem to be asking the wrong questions of google, as I just get back a load of human placentophagy websites which are of no use to anyone.

  27. methuseus says

    but there is actually no evidence that it provides any benefit.

    Lack of evidence does not equal evidence of lack, as you have told us before. I’m not saying that there is a definite benefit, but there have been no studies done, and there is no money in conducting those studies. so we will likely never know. Even charging $250 for the encapsulation doesn’t give you much profit with which to fund studies. It’s in the same boat as all the other non-monetized remedies. You can even think of marijuana studies. There are studies that show some benefit and others that show none. The researchers also deal with absolute crap for their marijuana supplies, as well.

  28. blf says

    Talking about cannibals ,if someone in dire straits were to slice bits of skin off themselves and scoff it down ,could they survive ?

    I’ve no idea if anyone who did this survived (assuming it is not an urban legend), but there were cases of self-cannibalism during the WW ][ siege of Leningrad.

  29. Johnny Vector says

    Oh lordy, memories! Your own senator wrote a sketch about that (with Tom Davis) back in 1975! It’s in a book of scripts I have, and someone transcribed it here:


    It says on that page that it never aired, but I recall seeing it some years later (probably after the standards & practices office was disbanded).

  30. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    …if someone in dire straits were to slice bits of skin off themselves and scoff it down ,could they survive ?

    Depends. Are we talking after they released Brother In Arms? Because before then I’m not sure they were big enough to get away with it. Still, I’m sure they could have found a niche audience…

  31. davidc1 says

    Fossilfishy @38 I wondered who would be the first to say that.
    rq@40 Did he eat his meat and two veg ,as we say over here in GB ?.

  32. Rich Woods says

    …if someone in dire straits were to slice bits of skin off themselves and scoff it down ,could they survive ?

    I expect the only way to survive a little longer by eating yourself is to amputate a limb and consume it. That way it only has to provide enough energy and nutrients to heal the wound well enough to keep you alive until you are rescued — if you could handle the shock. It’d be a pretty desperate gamble, though.

    Entropy always wins in the end.