They actually eat this?
Yes. Despite the women doing it a large amount of the time as a cure for postpartum depression, men have been known to consume placenta as well. This is not uncommon in nature; after all, many placental mammals eat their afterbirth to make their young less noticeable to predators. This even holds for the herbivores. Marsupials and monotremes are exempt.
The placenta tastes like liver and can be cooked like beef. It supposedly has the texture of heart, but I wouldn't know or want to know.
If all this sounds a bit too cannibalistic, there are “placenta encapsulation specialists,” often midwives or doulas, who transform the placenta from its messy postpartum condition into neat, sometimes even flavored, pills. “Mad Men” actress January Jones told People magazine that she began taking placenta pills after giving birth last fall and credits them with helping her to bounce back quickly. “It’s not witchcrafty or anything! I suggest it to all moms,” she told the magazine. “Your placenta gets dehydrated and made into vitamins. It’s something I was very hesitant about,” but she ended up taking the pills daily.
Hospitals consider the placenta biohazardous waste and dispose of it as such unless an arrangement to keep it is worked out beforehand. Sibley Memorial Hospital in the District, for instance, provides a protective container in which to store the placenta if a mother asks. But with 3,500 births a year on average, the hospital has only had only two mothers make such a request in the last year and a half, hospital officials said.
Doula Tabare Depaep is a placenta lady. She works out of her Annapolis kitchen, and said a placenta feels “like a big rump roast.” She doesn’t find it any worse than handling meat. (Depaep is a vegetarian.) “I actually feel warmer toward the placenta because it grew a baby,” she said.