i heart learning

i heart learning

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

flamingo pink

Today I learned why flamingos are pink.
And it is not because the queen of hearts painted them that way - like how she painted her roses red.

Yessir my rear cheeks have probably spent 1 too many hours couch surfing these past seven days - because this is my 2nd Dr. Oz learn in one week. But couch-potatoing in between editing contracts is a must. I call it 'research' for my next gig.

Today the oh-so-wise Doctor informed me that flamingos are actually born gray, but turn their signature pink because of the shrimp and algae they eat!

Can you believe that? Holy Amazing technicolor dreamcoat!

Shrimp has some sort of compound in it that changes flamingo's pigment to that fabulous shade that even nail polishes copy. It is called astaxanthine.

It is also the reason why salmon has pink meat - and lobster shells too! Only lobster's shells have proteins which hide their red color until it gets cooked off in boiling water.

I also learned that in captivity (like zoos and salmon farms) the animals aren't fed foods with astaxanthine, so dyes must be added to the foods that flamingos and salmon eat in order to simulate and exaggerate the natural pink colors they get in the wild. An unnatural and unhealthy process just to please our eyes.
Kind of like how those processed cheese slices wrapped in individual plastics I love so much are naturally gray before they get dyed orange.
or how someone Rick Moranis'ed and 'Honey I blew up the strawberries' on unsuspecting fruit that was supposed to be no bigger than a grape.

I guess I should not have been so surprised to learn where flamingo color comes from - because I know it happens in humans too -  when we supercede our carrot quota.

I learned the actual term for it today - carotenemia. Usually it affects kids, but adults can get it too.

Okay this last guy is probably just be a ganja-loving Jamaican. But you get the idea.
Something tells me 'carotenemia' didn't make the cut as being the next big name in nail polish.

I just can't get over the vibrant shade a good shrimpy diet gives!
In the words of my dear dear Oma, 'Oh, the colors!'


  1. You've got to be kidding about the gray color of processed cheese! Yech!

  2. You make me smarter every day. No more processed cheese and Miracle Whip sandwiches for me!

  3. the cheese fact is true! But I still eat it. I even snuck a slice today from Nelson`s uncle`s fridge when he wasn`t looking.

    I heard margarine also is grey, and doesn`t attract flies because they think it is plastic.