by chelsea schuyler
Helping Us Not Miss Produce
It’s about this time of year that I say to myself, remember produce? Delicious summertime wonderfood of berryliciousness. But because there are endless months until the good stuff comes back again, I feel some sour grapes are necessary to help the withdrawal.
Produce hates us. That’s really all there is to it. Some are just posers who have jumped on the hate-humans bandwagon, transporting deadly pathogens to our table like those Colorado cantaloupes a few months ago. Those melons of mayhem were smuggling Listeria on their rinds, which when cut spread to the meat and then to the digestive tracts of the 9 who died (or 8 or 7 or “as many as 4,” depending on which article you read. I love “as many as” –are they not quite dead yet? are we debating whether old Hubert can be classified as a person?).
No one saw it coming, Listeria is usually associated with deli meats or soft cheeses, which just seem more hateful by nature, but produce?? (Listeria is not to be confused with Lisztomania, named for the crazed fans of 1840’s Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, whose behavior, according to most sources, were not produce related) .
Glass In Your Chardonnay
Another hatred carrier are the 24,000 pounds of frozen peas and carrots recalled in 2010 after several consumers found shards of glass in the bags. Now, you may be thinking, “a few shards of glass, how harmful could that be to my soft tissues?” But just ask the Food and Drug Admniistration who analyzed 190 foreign objects in food and can now tell us that “Hard or sharp foreign objects in food may cause traumatic injury including laceration and perforation of tissues….”
Wow, thank you FDA, I was just about to sit down to some shattered-window and pea casserole, but now I shall certainly think twice. I wonder, at what point during those 190 trials did you begin to see the final conclusion take shape? Was it that 181st trial of needle soup that it all became clear?
The Naturally Poisonous
Then there’s the produce that is just inherently anti-us. The apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, apples, etc whose pits are packing high levels of Cyanide Satan, clear expressions of our unwelcome.
It’s normal not to consider pits as a part of a balanced breakfast (unlike Cocoa puffs), but every once in awhile we forget. For example, health food stores were selling 8oz bags of apricot pits imported from Pakistan (like our apricot pits aren’t good enough?) that, if eaten all at once, have twice the lethal dose of cyanide! Supposedly they are a good source of relief from constipation. I suppose death could be argued as a form of relief, so, I guess that’s valid.
Mr. Potato Death
Science Daily has an article about the potato and how evil it is, saying: “The Solanaceae are known for possessing a diverse range of alkaloidal glucosides, or simply alkaloids. As far as humans are concerned, these alkaloids can be desirable, toxic, or both…”
‘or both’?? No, I’m sorry, I think I’m gonna have to call the mutually exclusive police on that one. They never explain that by the way, we’re just left to wonder at the amazing powers of toxic desirability.
Just know that if you find green spots in your potato, it means it has been exposed to the sun, triggering it to release Solanine, a defensive mechanism meant to ward of fungus and pests, but occasionally dabbles in killing small children as well.
Most of the death toll from potatoes in the last 50 years has been from eating green potatoes, or drinking potato leaf tea. Really hippies? There is plenty of diversity in tea land, let this one go. And leave that puffer fish tea on the shelf while you’re at it.
Nobody Suspects the Nutmeg
Nutmeg though, is so evil it has caused TWO deaths in the last hundred years, in 1908 and 2001. Two grams can cause nausea, fever, and headaches. Over 7 grams can cause convulsions and hallucinations! God forbid you eat the whole nutmeg which can lead to an awesome affliction called “nutmeg psychosis,” which includes “feelings of impending doom, confusion, and agitation.” You gotta love anything that causes feelings of impending doom.
The sad thing is you just know that in 1908 it was some well-meaning schmuck who just wanted to make especially strong eggnog or something, but in 2001 you know it’s some kid in it for the hallucinations. Sigh. Cool points for the death certificate that says ‘Nutmeg Psychosis’ on it though.
Don’t Listen to Bad Ideas
So people, you don’t need the FDA or the internet to tell you that you shouldn’t eat things that are instinctively inedible, like glass, pits, or entire nutmegs. In fact don’t listen to the internet at all really, or you’ll end up following useless “helpful” tidbits like this aside from Listverse.com:
“Incidentally, if you want to eat an apple and find a worm in it, you can drop it in a bowl of salt water which will kill the worm.”
Salt water?? First of all, if I find a worm in my apple I’m gonna be psychologically traumatized and probably burning all apples for months, especially THAT apple. I’d have to be starving (in which case I should be happy for the worm’s protein), but even if I’m feeling particularly unwasteful, bobbing for worm-infested apples in a vat of Atlantic Ocean is not going to “save” the apple for me. Now I just have a salty Braeburn with dead worms rotting in it. Not helpful.
Eat smart. Not even smart, just common sense. Mmm, common sense.