Category: Food

old yeller poster rabies

Rabies poster child from Disney. Disney: tragically killing animals since 1957

by chelsea schuyler

The Zombie Apocalypse Was SO 131 Years Ago

rabid man

Besides agitation, hallucinations, loss of motor control, and death, rabies can also cause panic in association with water (hence the old name ‘hydrophobia’), as swallowing induces horribly painful spasms. The virus spreads through saliva from biting, so swallowing = less saliva = unpatriotic to the zombie cause.

While an excess of movies and books have been preparing us to meet an inevitable zombie apocalypse, fear not. We’ve actually been facing it for thousands of years, and are now simply in a post-apocalyptic residue phase.

Why? Because zombies are in fact tiny, itty-bitty viruses that eat brains and cause zombification, known more commonly as: rabies.

Think about it – super aggressive, no longer recognizable, frothing at the mouth, walking and moving all weird – total zombie. It even affects multiple mammals, just like I am Legend, Resident Evil, 28 Days Later, and other equally authoritative sources have shown.

Walk like a (rabid) Egyptian

Walk like a (rabid) Egyptian

Rabies is well described in writings by Egyptians dating back to 2300 B.C., but a vaccine was found in 1885.  So, slightly anticlimactically, this apocalypse has already happened, and now we’re left twitching and scarred to the tune of 55,000 people a year still getting it (mostly in Africa and Asia).

The Golden Years



But let me offer you a story of simpler times – a glorious age of “viper’s venom, crayfish eyes, and the liver of a mad dog.” The perfect witch’s brew? Why no, rabies treatments of course! Well, alternative treatments anyway. Naturally, the standard treatment was a red-hot iron at the site of the bite, which usually did nothing and the person died anyway.

This is why we all miss the old days, which was filled with dandy perks like pre-death scaldings, leeches, and blood-letting. Name an obscure animal part or barbaric practice – anything goes (went)!

But then a boring old white guy had to ruin it for everyone with ‘science’ or whatever. The story:

Rabies Cure Origin Story

Joseph Meister rabies survivor

Joseph “fiest” Meister himself

One day in October of 1885, in a town just like this one (not really), a small boy just about your age and size (if you are a 9 yr old French boy) was sent to town to fetch ingredients for his father’s bakery.

As little Joseph Meister made his way, he encountered a terrifying rabid dog that bit his hand and legs a total of 14 times. Luckily, a locksmith beat the dog away with an iron bar (locksmiths are SO handy!).

Who needs arrows and swords when you have locksmiths?

“Call the locksmith!” Takes on a whole new meaning.

The doctor came later that afternoon. You know, after the mini-zombies had had plenty of time to populate the body, establish a government, and draw up plans for a fully funded, full-scale brain takeover.

Here, let me just rabies that for you

Here, let me just rabies that for you

The doctor uselessly cauterized all 14 wounds, and left – because the horrific pain of being mauled by drooly fangs isn’t complete without the searing sensation of your own bludgeoned skin melting together. Don’t forget the lack of pain medication folks. Fun times all around!

The boy’s options at this point were a horrible slow death, or to be suffocated between mattresses – which was sometimes used to put victims out of their misery. It just gets better and better right? Simpler days…

Here, let me just mattress death that for you

Here, let me just death that for you

Luckily, rumor had it that a guy in Paris could help. Word spread to the parents, and the mangled, blistered boy was on the next bumpy wagon to the city of romance, a doubtlessly comfortable and restful trip.

Got Milk Disease?

MEANWHILE IN PARIS: people were not big fans of medical facilities – who needs science when you’ve got home visits from doctors with lava sticks at the ready?

Louis Pasteur with rabbit spine

Pasteur with the infinitely coolor science equipment of back in the day

So, scientists like Louis Pasteur had to make do with little money, but he did okay by figuring out how to prevent wine from ‘disease’ (going bad). Pasteur had suspected that a living organism was the culprit, and not a spontaneous generation of badness (the generally accepted idea).

He realized that if he heated the wine to a certain temperature he could kill it off. This procedure was passed on to milk (etc.) as well, and we now know it as ‘pasteurization’.

But because saving millions of people from botulism and the like is never enough, Louis Pasteur wanted to continue his work on little organisms and apply it to human disease.

Rabid Rabbits, Happy People

Though someone had made a smallpox vaccine, nobody really knew why it worked. Pasteur, however, was beginning to put two and two together (horrifying disease, tiny creatures (zombies)).

Louis Pasteur with rabbits

Pasteur and his hare-raising experiments. (Halloween pun – CHECK)

Pasteur grew rabies in the brains of a bunch of adorable rabbits (like ya do), then killed the rabbits and dried out the tissue to ‘weaken’ the virus.

He tried out the new vaccine on dogs with much success (because when you’re already brutalizing bunnies, why not generate more compassion from the public by throwing in a few puppies?).

Enter a terrified Madame Meister and a mutilated, sickly boy. Though unlicensed to practice medicine, Pasteur was persuaded to treat the boy, and it worked. The people rejoiced, forgave his malpractice, poured money into the lab, and came from all over the world to receive the rabies treatment. ‘Institut Pasteur’ thrives to this day as a non-profit studying micro-organisms, diseases, and vaccines.

Institut Pasteur

Epic gate of which Meister became the keeper (keymaster unknown).


Happily: The boy grew up, sold the family bakery, and became the gatekeeper at the very Institute that saved his life. He married and had a couple of daughters.

Unhappily: When the Germans invaded France in 1940, Meister heard that his family had been killed in the bombings, and so committed suicide with gas. His wife and daughters returned just hours later, safe.

Nothing says Halloween like epic tragedy, eh?!

oregon rabies map

Best. Map. Ever. Fox has appealed to be removed from the legend due to lack of involvement.


Rabies Today

Rabies is still everywhere here in the US – in the saliva of usually wild animals, especially bats.

The only sure method for determining if an animal has rabies is to look for the virus in the brain. Which, I can say from veterinary experience, is done by literally cutting off the head with tree clippers (standard zombie kill treatment!!) and mailing it to a lab. Good to know that some barbarism still thrives.

Batman and any others whose primary workspace is a cave is advised to be vaccinated.

Batman and any whose primary workspace is a cave are advised to be vaccinated.

You can get the vaccine, but it’s expensive and you have to do it three times. So, only do so if you’re a vet or a field biologist. Or if you’re just really, really into bat-riddled cave exploration.

The frugal spelunker like myself can take comfort in the fact that you can get the vaccine even after being bitten by a suspicious animal. But be quick about it.

Oh, and by the way, according to the WHO, “Human-to-human transmission by bite is theoretically possible but has never been confirmed.”‘ Yet, my friends…yet.

Thanks to Danielle who requested this topic!

Photos are in the public domain except:
Crayfish: photo by Monica R., CC by 2.0
Institute gate: photo by Lamiot, CC by 3.0

chelsea schuyler conifer post

Subliminal message: EAT CONIFER NOW

by chelsea schuyler

Why Does Nothing Eat Conifers?

Hungry? Why not satiate your pallet with the heavenly bitterness of the spiny, hostile conifer?

Because no one would ever do that. And neither would anything else with teeth or tastebuds or the desire to live. No self-respecting herbivore really goes near them. But evergreens are everywhere, how can nature ignore such a huge niche of available food?

Dinosaurs Ruin It For Everyone

Well, grandkids, it wasn’t always this way. Back when I was walking uphill both ways to school in the snow, dinosaurs were downing coniferous leaves like there was no tomorrow (which, arguably, there wasn’t). Why so many takers then and not now? Because back then:

1) There really wasn’t anything else to eat. Flowering plants did establish themselves during the dinosaurs’ reign, but not until the Cretaceous, the third and last section of the great dinosaur party 144 – 65mya, (the 1 – 4am rockers).

2) Conifers weren’t as full of hate and jaded bitterness in their culinary design. In other words, they probably tasted half decent.

The front leg of a brachiosarus. Neck not included. Me at bottom for scale.

The front leg of a brachiosarus. Neck not included. Me at bottom for scale.

So what happened? An evolutionary arms race. As dinosaurs spread, they ate more and more plants. Plant defense strategists, unable to physically avoid dinosaurs, tried anyway. They got taller and taller, trying to out-height their munchers, but those brachiosaur bitches just kept matching their step.

So instead of just physical avoidance, they added physical distaste. Harsh textures, painful thorns, and finally downright toxicity. They slowly developed an acidity to try and be outright disgusting.

godz memeBy the time the big bad meteor blew the dinosaurs’ taxonomic house down, angiosperms (flowering plants) were everywhere. They were tastier and a lot easier to reach. With dinosaurs out of the picture, the evergreens had no godzillas to deal with.

As mammals took over, they had a long way to go to be even near big enough to benefit from a conifer.

When You Can’t Be Big

WoftheW drawingOkay, nature’s got an empty niche of giant, razor sharp, acid-filled conifers, what do you do? Remember children, what we learned from War of the Worlds (besides the gullibility of 1930s America). You are faced with giant, killer, alien mo-fos, what do you do? Military? Weapons? Giant hammer or other sizable construction? Nay. Bacteria. The tiny twist ending, ‘Twas bacteria killed the beast.’

king kong

sad kong

(One could argue that King Kong suffered a similar fate, as love is similar to bacteria in that it gets under the skin, through to the heart, and causes seemingly unexplained behavioral changes).

But bacteria eats (or lives within) everything, so that’s not very satisfying. Surely something in our same domain (higher even than kingdom) can make use?

Indeed, when all else fails – The number one enemy that out-does humans both in number, creepiness, and sheer bizarreness: the insect.

Insidious Insects

Because insects can just fly or crawl to the leaves of the conifer, how tall they are doesn’t matter. Pine butterflies, pine sawflies, and pine needle weevils all feast on those string greens we find so cheek puckering.

The soft, supple flesh of the insta-snack, the pinecone

The soft, supple flesh of the insta-snack, the pinecone

Insects are nothing new to the conifer of course, they were around since the dinosaurs too. They’re part of the reason the trees’ seeds are so protected in armored, grenade-like death cones (though some of that pointy pain is probably geared toward deterring bird and squirrel type creatures).

Unphazed by the meteor, the insects kept on planticiding. So though evolving height was off the table, the plants’ toxicity has diversified into tens of thousands of varieties.

tertpentine orchard

Doubtless totally equal white and black turpentine farmers

All conifers make a resin and most of that resin is made from a chemical called terpene. Trees ooze this viscous liquid throughout their leaves and wood, so that should any beetle decide to burrow in, the ooze will trap and kill the insect. Some are so copiously endowed that we humans tap them to make turpentine (of paint thinner fame). Mmm, turpentine. “You gonna eat that?” said no human to an insect ever.

Okay, But Would It Really Kill You?

Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree stump image

We’re all better off.

How toxic, you ask? Surely, since you’ve had pine tea (8 parts sugar to one part needle), it must be fine? Well:

  • Eating of the ponderosa pine can induce abortions in pregnant cattle. Cuz that’s something someone found out.
  • Eating just three seeds of the Yew berry can kill you in hours, sometimes without any symptoms! However, the flesh of the berry is fine. So go ahead and add that appetizer to the puffer fish entrée.
  • The Norfolk pine can cause “vomiting and depression in dogs and cats.” Kind of a chicken and the egg there though. I’d get depressed too if you kept feeding me trees just to see what would happen.

So hippies, tea carefully.


Goats and goat Mufasas, are a creation of man only

Goats and goat Mufasas, are the creation of mankind only

For those of you wondering, what about goats? My answer is this: While goats have been known to eat conifers, it’s only the domesticated goats that have been bred to tolerate such awkward and sour fare. Goat’s wild ancestor the ibex, does not partake.

Deer and rabbits also have been known to eat new shoots of needles, as those haven’t developed the acidic taste of their older, darker needled kin, but again, it’s not a major food source.

Photos are in the public domain or taken by me except:

the godzilla meme, by Utkezabanje
cartoon tree stump: from The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Goat Mufasa: ?

Trick or Death

old timeyby chelsea schuyler

It’s very important to instill in your children an appreciation for the exception to a rule. If you feel you have failed horribly at indoctrinating this moral imperative, Halloween is a great opportunity to reverse your parental ineptitude.

Say to your children, “Children, never, ever, ever take candy from strangers. Except on this one day where you should actively seek out as many strangers as possible, the sketchier looking their personal appearance and living quarters, the better.

suspect nothing

suspect nothing

And why shouldn’t they? Poisoned candy and razor blades are myths. …or are they?

In the words of the cowering child of Aliens, “mostly.”

mostly annoying

mostly annoying

In all fairness to the paranoid, razor blades or pins have made an appearance once in awhile in the last half century. However, (chicken and the egg here) the majority of those were hoaxes inspired by the myth, either pranks by kids to their parents (GENIUS) or parents to their kids (dear god, what is wrong with you people?!).

look at all the good that's come

look at all the good that’s come

And no one was severely harmed. Cuz biting down on metal is something you sort of notice before it reaches the soft innards of your gastrointestinal delicates.

As for poisoned candy, the evidence (provided by Dr. Joel Best) denies it ever happening. …At least by strangers to strangers.

Addictive powder through a straw. Start em young.

Addictive powder through a straw. Start em young.

There was a guy in Detroit in 1974 named Ronald Clark O’Bryan who poisoned Pixie Sticks and gave them to his son. His son died, and he blamed it on the neighbors’ tainted candy. His Fail was being behind the times. Hello, no one gives out Pixie Sticks anymore, as the police found when investigating the neighbors, just before they noticed that he had just taken a huge life insurance policy out on his son. A classic.

In 1970 a poor kid ate heroin-laced Halloween candy and died of an overdose…so the media said.

Aw, remember the media?

Aw, remember the media?

But it turned out that the kid had actually discovered his uncle’s heroin stash, and his parents sprinkled it onto his Halloween candy to shirk the blame. (I don’t wanna be handing out Darwin awards in the wake of tragedy (no I do), but how appetizing is heroin powder you could ingest enough to die from it? Something else going on there methinks.)

who wouldn't want balls of steel?

who wouldn’t want balls of steel?

Those are the sad stories. The better stories come from legendary greats like Helen Pfeil in 1964, who gave out dog biscuits, steel wool, and (clearly marked) ant poison to teenagers she felt were too old to be trick or treating. Which makes me want to start ringing doorbells, because, dude, free steel wool.



Unfortunately, the public didn’t appreciate Helen’s message to these freeloading slackers, EVEN THOUGH she told the kids what they were getting and no one tried eating any of it. She pleaded guilty immediately and her sentence was suspended. Dr. Best thinks this may be the origin of the myths.

Another gem occurred in 2000, when parents found their kids’ Snickers bars to be hollowed out wrappers crammed with weed. The cops traced it back to a certain homeowner who was extremely confused. Turns out he worked in the dead letter department of the post office, and found a bag of Snickers in the lost packages. shipment_of_fail-300x225Someone’s epic fail at smuggling pot was brought to this guy, who, having lived in a dark hole for the majority of his life, didn’t notice what must have been a significant weight difference in the candies. Deciding to save a few bucks this year, he brought them home and gave them out to the innocent children. Who, doubtless, are now addicts and sadists, having their had their first taste of the notorious gateway drug.

um, yes?

um, yes?

So there you have it. The real victim here? The candy itself. Used and abused time and again for hoaxes, last minute cover ups, or naïve postmen. Eat your candy folks, it won’t harm you. I can’t speak for your greedy, drug addicted, psychopathic family members, but the goods are all good.

Molasses Disastess

actually 21 dead and 150 injured all told

actually 21 dead and 150 injured all told

by chelsea schuyler

The Great Molasses Flood

Happy Halloween everyone!!

This year I would like to dedicate my blog to one of the oddest forms of death: drowning. In Molasses.

refined death

message in a death

The most famous account of which is of course the Great Molasses Flood (aka Boston Molasses Disaster) of January, 1919. An enormous vat of molasses five stories high split open, spilling 2.3 million gallons of molasses and dangerous debris into the streets.

no sir, i don't like it

no sir, i don’t like it

A wave 22 feet high surged through town at 35 miles an hour, killing 21 people and injuring 150. Twenty horses also perished.

The Science

The thing about molasses is that it flows nothing like water. It is a non-Newtonian fluid (see “Quick, Sand” blog) and according to Scientific American, can be significantly more devastating than a tsunami.

Molasses is 5000-10,000 times more viscous than water (depending on its production), making it impossible to survive an encounter of such freakish proportions especially if you might be feeling at all panicked.

The Culprit

Why did the tank explode?  Maybe because it was filled to the brink 6 months earlier, leaving little room for the carbon dioxide gas released by likely fermentation.

the horror of whatever this was!

the horror of whatever this was!

The courts also blamed the owners of the tank for turning a blind eye to structural instability. Rumors say they even painted the entire thing brown to hide the leak stains.

It was also an unusually warm day that January, causing a dramatic shift in temperature inside the tank.  But no pressure, tank.

The memory of the deceased will never be forgotten. There are dozens of photos of confusing wreckage where you can’t really see any molasses or know what the scale is but it’s no doubt tragi-cal.

Those who lost their lives are also commemorated on the following tiny, tiny plaque for all carrying a magnifying glass to see.

tiny plaque

Molasses Disasters in Hawaii, Ozarks, Mexico

Freak as the whole incident seems, it’s apparently not that uncommon. We humans just can’t get a handle on molasses, and tend to drop a few hundred thousand gallons here and there.

hawaiiLike just last month when a faulty pipe transferring molasses to a California-bound ship leaked 1400 tons (230,000 gallons) of molasses into the waters near Waikiki, killing 26,000 fish and other animals and wreaking as yet unknown extents of havoc on coral reefs.

Don’t worry hundreds of species of little fish. There’s plenty of fish in the s—…well.

oh, is that how it works? woops!

oh, is that how it works? woops!

And then in 2004, when Purina Mills (of dog food fame) hired a company to dispose of their 50,000 gallons of spoiled molasses. But instead of taking it to a treatment plant, the guy dumped it all into a sinkhole, which he did not realize would filter down into the pristine Ozark water supply and flow out of two springs which lead into the nearby, and ironically named, Clear Creek. Many fish were killed and citizens were outraged.

mMolasses struck again in July of this year when a small village in Jalisco, Mexico was the victim of molasses dumping from an industrial cattle farm 12 kilometers away. Villagers and restaurant owners depend on fish and tourism for their livelihoods, so 500 tons worth of dead, molasses soaked fish aren’t so much helpful.

How To Explain it to Your Children

So, molasses, what a hoot!  But there’s more!  If you’re like me, and I know I am, when you think horrifically odd tragedy you think, Children’s book!

further reading

further reading

Follow Patrick as his craving for molasses leads him to take the family molasses pail (was that a thing?) to the market, when boom! A wacky explosion covers him head to toe with molasses.

When he gets home, his mother, who apparently lives in a hole in the ground at the edge of town, doesn’t believe him and sends him to bed with a scolding until father comes home looking the same way.

What a caper! In the sequels, Patrick can look forward to years of therapy dealing with the trauma of the town’s death toll and the self-confidence-shattering of his own mother’s Molasses-Holocaust denial.denial

Made With Insects

by chelsea schuyler

New Ingredients in My Favorite Candy?

Happy belated Halloween everyone! Apologies for the lack of blog, allow me to retroactively disgust you as a posthumous October tribute.

Skittles candies have gone vegetarian! Wait, was Skittles not vegetarian? And how has mega corporation Mars not advertised this fact to bring in the raids of plant-eating heathens to their Skittles-purchasing domain?

Perhaps Mars was hoping not to bring any attention to their past ingredient list, no doubt still located in several warehouses around the country. In these bags, you’ll notice three things: Gelatin, E120, and Shellac.

How do I live without this??

Gelatin is probably no surprise, it’s the slightly unsettling binder made from the boiled down remnants of pig and cow cartilage. A common annoyance for vegetarians, it constantly prevents us from enjoying treats that could so easily not have gelatin, and suffering us to endure such questions as “wait,…you can’t have Jello??”, which makes me ponder this person’s age vis a vis the implied daily Jello consumption. Regardless, it is not gelatin that would have shocked most consumers. It’s the insects.

white stuff = congregations of cochineal

Soylent Green is People, E120 is Insects

E120, also known as Carmine or Carminic Acid, is a dye that comes from the brutal squishing of the cochineal beetle, which happen to have bright red guts because of its diet of red cactus.

lick my finger…

This little insect has been used for hundreds of years by the Aztecs, Spaniards, and now the world to dye clothing. Okay, clothing is one thing, but dripped into my candy nubbin is crossing a line.

Shellac is Insect Poop

lac beetle

Shellac, yes, the shellac, of wood resin fame (also used on pill capsules and nail polish), is a waxy substance that comes from the secretions of the female lac beetle.

These little bugs suck the sap of the trees in Asia, constantly excreting a tunnel shaped turd that we then scrape off, melt, and slather onto our beetle roca Skittles to make em shiny. I mean really, secretions? Need I go on?

Beetle Juice! Beetle Juice! Cow Cartilage!! Hmm. Not quite the same effect. Maybe that’s why nobody sees Michael Keaton anymore.

Don’t Worry, Now it’s Just Carcinogenic

“It’s in your food, it’s in your children” -confusing tagline from

To replace the beetle innards and outtards, Mars has switched over to Red #40, one of 6 FDA certified fake colors originally derived from coal tar (don’t worry, it’s now derived from family friendly petroleum).

The FDA felt the need to test artificial colors after Halloween 1950, when scads of trick or treaters suffered severe diarrhea and welts due to candies colored with Orange No.1. Later studies (why study before there’s a problem?) showed that 1g/kilo of food killed 2 out of 5 mice in a single day.

Clearly it’s the red 40 that is tainting the purity of these hearty foodstuffs.

Red #40 is an oil derivative that may or may not be carcinogenic and accused of causing hyperactivity (though, could that be the metric ton of candy your child just overdosed on?).

Starting to wonder if beetle juice was a better option? Carmine is still everywhere, but as of 2011 the FDA requires that foods specify if they use carmine (though they are not required to define what carmine is).

Which, to be fair, in this day and age if you don’t know what it is (a red flag in the first place), look it up! Increase your entomological trivia! No one should have to explain every word, if you don’t know that milk is cow teat extract, or that egg is blended chicken fetus, stop shopping.

FDA Regulations on Grossness

Just know that while you mouth-hoover your new kosher candies, you’re still not safe from bug ingestion. The FDA has an entire page defining the maximum limits of various revolting sundries that specific foods may contain. Some examples:

it’s okay, we don’t even know what fig paste is anyway

Fig paste: “13 or more insect heads per 100 grams…” 100 grams is a little less than a cup, by the way.
Freshwater fish: “60 parasitic cysts per 100 fish…” It’s the parasitic cysts that give it that pus-like consistency. Ties it together.
Mushrooms: “Average of over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams…” Wow, of any size? And do you like that “over 20 or more” phrasing there?
Popcorn: “1 or more rodent excreta pellets…in 1 or more subsamples…” Excreta pellet! Glorious. Subsample was not defined in this comforting case.
Pizza sauce: “15 or more fly eggs and 1 or more maggots per 100 grams…” There’s that ‘or more’ again. It’s an –ish science. Whatever, free topping!
Asparagus: “10% of spears…6 or more attached asparagus beetle eggs and/or sacs…” Sacs.
Apple Butter: “4 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams…” and “Average of 5 or more whole or equivalent insects per 100 grams…” Whole or equivalent insects. Favorite.

If you were looking for the perfect name for your new punk band, I hope you choose one from this excellent list.

Heeelp meee!

And in case you were wondering (and please do peruse the glossary of terms, it will enlighten you to so many joyous stomach turners) “whole or equivalent insects” is defined as “A whole insect, separate head, or body portions with head attached.” In other words, legs or thorax til Tuesday but once you get a head in the mix, well, let’s just say you’ll never be the head of a major corporation. It’s just no way to get a head in life, being that headstrong.

Rainbow Brite could not be reached for comment.

As a vegetarian I just have to say, suck it vegetarians, we’re all omnivores.

Taste the rainbow!

You pick them because they look good...

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.

(artists rendition of cantaloupe in question)

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?).

Franz Listz 1811-1886

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….”

I see nothing wrong with this perfectly good caramel sauce

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.

I only eat Whole Organic Death

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.

there may be something wrong with this potato

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.

Think Death

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

“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.”

Yeah, we're done here.

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.

What Are Nuts Without Trust?

by chelsea schuyler

The Truth About Nuts Fruit

Nuts are filthy, nondelicious liars! Nuts in a nutshell, are not nuts!

So what is true nuttiness? Well, to talk about nuts, we need to talk about fruit. “Fruit” is such a broad term, so lets avoid loins, looms, and cakes, and go straight to default grocery speak. When we talk about plums, peaches, and apricoty things we are actually referring to a kind of fruit, called:

a DRUPE – a plant structure with a fleshy outside surrounding a pit–a hard shell with a seed inside. Raspberries, blackberries, etc are drupes, it’s just that each berry is a cluster of mini-drupes, called drupelets (for adorability purposes), joined together in a group.

Don’t you love knowing that? And why can’t they make other fruits do that? If they can make seedless watermelon they can surely go all chihuahua on peaches and put out some peachberries.

The NonNut Blasphemies

Okay, so what’s a nut? Almost nothing! It’s about to get real in the Whole Nuts parking lot.

Almonds: Not a nut, a seed! From a drupe! Everyday almonds that we see are shelled (i.e. the shells are removed), we don’t usually see their hard casings.

But that’s not the end of it, in nature, that shell is surrounded by a fleshy, leathery, outer layer that’s green and fuzzy and kermity in flavor (in other words, inedible, because no one would eat Kermit). Making it, a drupe. A soft fruit, with a pit inside, with a seed inside. Almonds = a seed.

Pistachios were originally dyed to hide the bruises on the shells from hand picking. They’re machine-picked now, but consumers continue to expect their non-nuts horrifyingly colored

Pistachios: Not a nut, a seed! From a drupe! Comes in a fleshy skin, with a hard shell, with a seed inside. The part we eat is therefore a seed.

Getting the hang of this?

Walnut: same
Cashew: same
Brazil, Pecan, Hickory, Macadamia: same
Pine nut: same (although they are not from a drupe. They are just seeds at the end of certain Pine trees, which are gymnosperms (a word that means literally, “naked seed.”))

What about peanuts? Actually a legume.


Okay, WTF is a legume already?? 29 years I still don’t know this. You know what it is? A friggin pod. Technically, it’s a different kind of fruit, a nondrupe.

Specifically, the fruit (pod) of plants belonging to the bean family Fabaceae. You know how peanuts come in those softish shells found on the floors of rib roast restaurants? POD. Peanuts = legumes.

Nuts: The Elite Few

You know what else come in pods. Aliens! Aliens = legumes. Alright not all pods are legumes, but all legumes are pods. Mostly. …Mostly.

So..what ARE nuts? If you went to a nuthouse, would there be anything left to find?? Well my friends, like a drupe or a legume, a nut is simply another kind of fruit. Confused? Me too. F this explanation. Let us make like a digestive system and break it down.

Of the fruits:

If you’re a drupe, you have a soft outside.
If you’re a nut, you have a hard outside.
If you’re a legume, you have a pod outside (and are in the bean family or from outer space).

Really real true nuts come in those hard, pointy husks (literally giant burrs) that punish perfectly innocent bare feet in a supposedly harmless backyard.

Chestnut. OWW!

Acorn. ow.

Hazelnut. Ow!


That’s it?! That’s it. When we say ‘nut’, what we really mean is ‘seed’.

The biggest difference other than a useless, pointy, dangerous, and inedible skin, is that nuts are “indehiscent” – they don’t split open to expose the seed. In many nuts the seed is actually fused to the shell, which I think is pretty indehiscent of them.

“Dehiscent? Me?”

You know how pistachios are split open all nice and convenient like that? They’re dehiscent. Legumes are dehiscent as well. They split, eventually.

SIDENOTE OF AWESOME: The best kind of dehiscency is explosive dehiscence: where the shell of the seed detonates and flings the seed out away from it. Plants exploding.

How is that not cool? Don’t Mexican jumping beans make so much more sense now? WRONG! In that case, a small grey moth inserts her larva inside the bean, it eats the bean, grows, and then throws itself against the capsule wall. Alright, well, nothing ruins a magic bean like larva. But I digress.

Candy Conclusions

So basically, if the shell has a seam, where it would split eventually, it ain’t a nut.

So, what can we take away from this?

  1. Almond Joys do not have nuts. Mounds are still just kind of unsatisfying.
  2. Nutella is a bona fide nut product, as it’s derived from hazelnuts. It was invented during a time when cacao was highly rationed due to World War II, but hazelnuts were plentiful. Somebody was thinkin’…
  3. Nutter Butters = Legumer Butters
  4. Nutcracker, I don’t know what he’s cracking but it ain’t nuts.

    Disillusioned nutcracker

According to a totally untrustworthy source, the Chinese consider the almond a “symbol of enduring sadness and female beauty.” Enduring sadness. And female beauty. I love that anything can symbolize enduring sadness. Enduring, really? Like a sadness that fights crime against all odds?

Are you Chinese? How do you feel about almonds? Send me your comments using the form below…

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