Mercury Retrograde in Virgo is associated with the sudden discovery of useful things – remedies, missing links, a timely micro-skill etc.
It’s the Muse of maverick findings that are nearly always already present in your daily environment, albeit overlooked. One moment you’re meandering around some minutiae or evidently entranced by some glossy trivia and then wham: serendipity strikes.
I’m not even sure how I got to this but you know the universal food additive citric acid? It’s added to practically everything and is akin to a cornerstone of the processed food industry with two million tonnes of it being produced a year.
If you were under the impression it was from citrus fruit, so was I. The delusion is partly because citrus fruits do have naturally occurring citric acid which gives – say – grapefruit – its gorgeous tart taste. Citrus to citric is a logical leap.
It’s also possible that the companies manufacturing the product prefer people to think ‘oranges and lemons’ when they see the additive ‘citric acid’. Image-search these exact words to behold an amazing array of lemon stock art and see how often even additive-conscious health-groups cite this substance as the ‘safe’ additive.
Once upon a time it was made from fruits but in 1919 the pharmaceutical company Pfizer (yes that Pfizer) developed a technique to ferment it from Aspergillus Niger AKA Black Mould.
This cut the manufacturing costs so drastically that they were able to make significant bank on the product, enough that some business analysts credit this innovation with funding their entire early expansion. These days 99% of the world’s citric acid is fermented from Aspergillus Niger which, in other contexts, is seen as a high-risk fungal pathogen, mycotoxins and all.
It is ‘generally regarded as safe’ but no actual tests have been done on this substance. While obviously people aren’t dropping dead after eating sour squirm lollies or using a bath bomb, there is a growing recognition that food allergies are becoming more frequent.
Could one of the most commonly used food and personal care product ingredients in the world being made from Aspergillus Niger have anything to do with this?
Believe it or not there are some industry people concerned about potential health and environment issues from the process. However the solution appears to be an increasingly common pivot to fermenting a fungus called Yarrowia Lypolytica instead.
“Great,” I thought “it’s from Yarrow as in the beautiful fairy herb?” Apparently not. Up until 1980, it was known as Candida Lypolytica but was renamed after David Yarrow, the mycologist who’d reclassified it.
Coincidentally, fungal diseases are said to be on the rise and increasingly resistant to anti-fungals, with Aspergillus Niger and Yarrowia Lypolytica the most “popular” pathogens.
Whether it’s made from Black Mould or Candida, sorry, Yarrowia – Citric Acid is not going away. Revenue growth is tracking at 8.6% a year and by 2027, it will apparently be a $5.52 billion per year market. Demand for it is growing as it’s perceived to be organic and producers can plausibly claim that it is ‘widespread in nature‘ but it’s also cheap to make.
This does, of course, play into my vibe from last year that ‘mould is the new covid’ so of course I am biassed but interestingly a MM member and one of my clients has written a fantastic eco-horror novel about fungus as an intelligent species – which (don’t freak) apparently it is.
This, as you can see, has been a mind-blowing Mercury Retro discovery for me – what do you think?
Also, just to go totally out there (it is a Full Moon), think about the times when you’ve been adversely affected by a mould or fungal scenario – was it also a time when you were influenced by a character whom you could describe as opportunistic, invasive and pathogenic?