beet pulp safety warning

Susan Evans Garlinghouse (
Sat, 15 Nov 1997 16:21:11 -0800

Well, I knew there had to be a downside to beep pulp, and thought it
only fair that I pass it on...

This afternoon I decided to bring some beet pulp pellets into the house
to soak, because I wanted to get an idea of the % volume they expanded
during soaking. Researchers are like that, pathetically easy to amuse
and desperately in need of professional help. So I trundled in a
bucket, about three pounds of beet pulp, added in the water and set it
in the living room to do its thing. No problem. Science in the making.

Well, one thing I don't think I've mentioned before is that in my
ongoing Quest to turn this house into Noah's Ark, we have not only four
horses, two dogs, three house cats plus Squeaky the barn cat, a
sulfur-crested cockatoo, a cockatiel and assorted toads, we also have
William, a fox squirrel who absent-mindedly fell out of his tree as a
baby a year or so ago, and got handed off by my vet to the only person
he knew silly enough to traipse around with a baby squirrel and a bottle
of Esbilac in her bookbag. Being no dummy, William knew a sucker when
he saw one and has happily been an Urban Squirrel ever since. And for
those of you that think A Squirrel's Place is In The Wild, don't think
we didn't try that...last year at Christmas, we thought we'd give him
his first lesson in Being a Wild Squirrel by letting him play in the
undecorated Christmas tree, and his reaction was to shriek in horror,
scutter frantically across the floor and go try to hide underneath the
nearest border collie. Since then, the only way he will allow himself
to be taken outside is hiding inside Mummy's shirt and peering
suspiciously out at the sinister world. So much for the re-make of Born
Free in San Dimas.

Anyway, when I set out the bucket of beet pulp, I may have
underestimated the lengths that a young and enthusiastic squirrel will
go to to stash all available food items in new and unusual hiding
spots. I thought letting William out of his cage as usual and giving
him a handful of almonds to go cram under cushions and into sleeping
dog's ears was sufficent entertainment for the afternoon. After all,
when I left, he was gleefully chortling and gloating over his pile of
treasure, making sure the cockatoo saw them so he could tell her I Have
Almonds And You Don't. Sigh. So much for blind optimism.

Well, apparently when the almond supply ran out, beet pulp pellets
became fair game and I can only imagine the little rat finding that
great big bucket and swooning with the possibilities of being able to
hide away All That Food. The problem isn't quite so much that I now
have three pounds of beet pulp pellets cleverly tucked away in every
corner of my house, it's that as far as I can tell, the
soaking-expanding-and-falling-apart process seems to be kinda like
nuclear meltdown. Once the reaction gets started, no force on earth is
going to stop it. So when I happily came back from the grocery store,
not only do I find an exhausted but incredibly Fulfilled squirrel
sprawled out snoozing happily up on the cat tree, I find that my house
smells like a feed mill and virtually every orifice is crammed full of
beet pulp. This includes the bathroom sink, the fish tank filter, in my
undie drawer, in the kitty box (much to their horror) and ALL the
pockets of my bookbag. I simply can't WAIT to turn on the furnace and
find out what toasting beet pulp smells like.

The good news is that in case of siege, I have enough carbohydrates
hidden in my walls and under the furniture to survive for years. The
bad news is that as soon as I try to remove any of the Stash, I get a
hysterical squirrel clinging to my pant leg, tearfully shrieking that
I'm ruining all his hard work and now he's going to starve this winter.=20
(This is despite the fact that William is spoiled utterly rotten, knows
how to open the macademia nut can all by himself and has enough of a
tummy to have earned him the unfortunate nickname Buddha Belly.)

So in case anyone was losing sleep wondering just how much final product
you get after soaking three pounds of beet pulp, the answer is a living
room full. I'd write this New Data up and submit it as a case study
paper to the nutrition and physiology society, but I suspect the
practical applications may be limited.

Off to go empty the Shop-Vac. Again.

Susan Garlinghouse