Guar gum, Indian Cluster bean
M. used the word ‘guar’ in scrabble. It’s an ingredient in almost every processed food, mostly as a thickener. You can also find it in cosmetics, and it has been used industrially in papermaking and fabric printing, and medicinally, in the 1980s as a failed diet aid. It’s a polysaccharide, meaning the molecule is made up of many sugars linked together. What eating lots of it means for human health is unclear. It is “natural”, is classified as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (the opposite of the precautionary principle?) and contains lots of fiber. Guar gum is made from the ground up seeds of a shruby annual in the bean family, Fabaceae. It is from India and Pakistan. People there eat the young pods and feed the whole plant to livestock. It is now grown commercially in Oklahoma and Texas.
Other recent scrabble plant references: soya, beans, maize, olive, beet, and mint. We also got seed, earth and sow.