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Plants vs Animals: Gummies

February 19, 2018

An article that looks at plant-based alternatives to gelatin, as it relates to gummies.

School supplies. Now there's something I love shopping for!!

There are few things I appreciate more than a carefully-crafted selection of color-coded folders, notebooks, and mechanical pencils. I love school supplies so much, I never complain when the store reels out the seasonal display early... In fact, I think one of the biggest niches in today's market is a lack of "School Supplies" scented candles.

Do you remember those days?! The school supplies shopping list, assigned by classroom?

It went something like:
- composition notebooks (2)
- spiral bound notebooks (5)
- folders (double-pocket, 3-hole punch) (5)
- no. 2 pencils (12-pk)
- coloring pencils (12-pk)
- ** GLUE ** (2)

I recall showing up with my glitter pencil pouch, comparing pencil sharpeners (among other school supply selections), and proudly explaining why glue sticks were where it's at:

"No bubbling of paper, no seeping from corners, pure paper craftsmanship!"

I'm pretty sure that impressed all my friends. It especially impressed a certain boy on a mission to ruin everything. He said: 

"You know glue is made from the melted bones of animals - that's why there's a picture of a cow [referring to my glue stick]."

... Pretty sure it was the same kid who taught everyone their first swear word, and dropped news that raisins weren't really candy. Back then, I despised him. Today, I kind of want to meet his parents (just to make sense of what happened to him).

I've digressed.

Melted bones of animals.

It's all the rage (and I don't mean the kind vegans & animal-lovers experience emotionally). I mean its super sexy marketing, more specifically referred to as "paleo" and supported with claims for healthy hair, skin, nails, joints, muscles, etc.

Once seen through a lens of disgust (and quite literally tears whilst gluing my paper projects that day), I now see as a waste-not story, and a respectable means of using all parts of an animal. But, in a day when plants are proving serious nutritional and functional capabilities, it has me also thinking - "Could there be a better way?"

This post was actually inspired by a friend on a mission to find gelatin-free gummies. Apparently, not an easy task. This article will explore:

(1) The ins & outs of collagen and gelatin (because I was curious about their differences), as well as pectin (a common gelatin-alternative in gummies), &

(2) A selection of gelatin-free gummies available at a store near you.


What is it?

A fibrous protein and critical component of all connective tissues in the bodies of multicellular animals - including skin, tendons, cartilage, bones and tissues. As a constituent of scar tissue, collagen assists in proper wound healing. Collagen has vast applications in food and industrial production, as discussed in its functional attributes below.

How is it made?
Collagen's functional characteristics depend on the raw material and extraction conditions. Pre-treatment removes non-collagen substances and is dependent on the raw material (animal source and part, ie: bovine, hide or bone). As it pertains to food, enzymatic (as opposed to chemical) hydrolysis is ideal for delivery of high nutritional value and improved functionality. 

Functional attributes:

(A) General:  Offers a high protein content in addition to water absorption capacity, gel formation, and ability to form and stabilize emulsions. Collagen's traction today as a nutritional supplement offers functional benefits that now include solubility in cold water and no gelling (unlike gelatin). Familiar ingredient in food (jams, jellies, candies, dry beverage blends), pharmaceuticals (medicinals & cosmetics), and industrial production (adhesives, photographic).

(B) Nutrition Facts: