Sick of watching their retirement accounts gather dust, a growing number of investors are ditching their 401(k)s for so-called "alternative" investments.

Instead of stocks and bonds, these investors are banking on beauty schools and chicken feces as the key to a secure retirement.

While some of these bets have already paid off handsomely, they also come with plenty of risk. So before investing your hard-earned dollars in cows or organic sprouts, be sure to to do your homework first.

Invest $5,000 in wine


Last updated July 05 2011: 11:13 AM ET
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