With fall right around the corner, I’m bracing myself for the onslaught of my biggest seasonal pet peeve - pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like real pumpkin. I object to the way my senses are accosted with fake pumpkin flavors and toxic artificial pumpkin scents. From lip balms to candles, I can’t get away from pumpkin!
Here’s what you should know before grabbing a pumpkin scented “treat” this autumn.
The “pumpkin” listed in food and cosmetic items (such as lip balm) is never listed as “pumpkin” on the ingredients list, but will most likely say, “natural flavoring” which sounds really great, but in essence, it’s flavoring that has been tampered with in a lab. And it could be a combination of many different chemicals whose origins began with animals, not plants. Most people know how beaver butt glands apparently taste a lot like vanilla or strawberry (I want to know who was the first person to figure this out), and was at one time used to flavor foods like ice cream and yogurt. Most food companies swear they no longer milk beavers for the prized castoreum (the secretion that produces fruit flavorings), but the FDA doesn’t require companies to list it even if it is in the ingredients. Surprisingly, we’re told that beaver glands aren’t harmful to humans, so we really shouldn’t care about consuming the secretions. This, of course, argues that only if something is harmful, do we have a right to know what we’re consuming. I strongly disagree. If I think I’m getting strawberries (or pumpkin), I’m not too fond of being told it may be beaver butt. Perhaps I’m just too picky.
The chemicals that produce fruit scents, such as pumpkin spice candles, can in fact be harmful to humans (this study from SC State University breaks down why paraffin candles laced with artificial fragrances put users at risk). Because of the problems associated with artificial fragrances, they’re being dubbed, “the new second-hand smoke”. Most paraffin-based candles, mainstream body sprays, room sprays, shampoos and other home and body products contain toxic petroleum- and coal-derived synthetic chemicals that have been linked to cancer, asthma and reproductive problems. But companies get a pass from the FDA on listing exactly what makes that spicy scent we crave so much from October through December. The FDA created a provision for the perfume industry that lists fragrances as “trade secrets”. So basically, any combination of nearly 4,000 synthetic chemicals could be in that pumpkin spice potpourri (does anyone still buy potpourri?), but you’ll never know it. One thing I can guarantee you - there isn’t an actual pumpkin or any real spices within miles of that product. If you or your loved ones are prone to asthma attacks, migraines or skin sensitivities, fragrances should be avoided at all costs.
Does that mean you can’t enjoy that warm, inviting scent we’ve come to love during the fall? Not at all! Wellness Mama (one of my fave bloggers) breaks down how to make an all-natural room spray that will bring back memories of autumn days dashing through pumpkin patches (if you did those sort of things). Enjoy!