3

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Do you think we innately know what is mildy poisonous?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 26, 2012 at 5:55 AM

So my latest project is figuring out how to stretch the grocery budget and trying to grow what I can in my apartment. I stumbled on growing oyster mushrooms in used coffee grinds and began looking into what else I could do.

I have always hated "mushrooms" - or at least what I grew up knowing as mushrooms according to the SAD diet. White button/portabella ...blech. Its weird they don't taste horrid or anything I just had that unidentifiable "meh ..ew.." feeling.

When I discovered the whole WORLD of other stuff out there it was a different story. I LOVE miatake, chanterelles etc. I recently found out that white button/portobellas are mildly carcinogenic and toxic. Awfully interesting...

I just wonder. The evidence seems to be piling up that we can "taste" when food isnt good for us. I am sure that during times of famine we ate WHATEVER we could for the calories. But lets say in times of "ok" or plenty when we could be more choosey.

I guess I just wonder why our standard food sources are full of mildly toxic things. What kind of veggies are available in large quantities year round at our grocery stores? White button mushrooms, eggplant, bell peppers and a few other notable nightshades. Everything is cooked in vegetable oil etc etc...Grains? hmm

Before paleo I used to think I was supposed to eat whole wheat everything. It gave me that same "blech" feeling... it didnt taste "horrid" it just made me feel like ugh I shouldnt be eating this. I did anyway thinking that health food was supposed to be gross. shakes head If I only knew.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 26, 2012
at 12:51 PM

Actually most species know what to eat and what not to eat. Heck, my goats know how much wild hemlock they can eat and will stop after a few minutes. Not surprising that the human animal can do the same.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 26, 2012
at 12:49 PM

I think you may be confusing toxins with irritants.

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2 Answers

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Medium avatar

(2923)

on January 26, 2012
at 08:31 AM

A classic test for poisonous or caustic items is rub a cut section on the inside of your forearm. If you react, get rid of whatever it was! Even then, we've still dealt with some strange stuff. Rhubarb stems are tasty (but the leaves are toxic). Bitter melon fails the bitter test (pretty spectacularly), but most of Asia loves it. Lutefisk is preserved in caustic lye. The concept of kiviak would churn most of our stomachs yet Inuit consider it quite a delicacy (and a great source of vitamins in the middle of a long winter).

That being said, be VERY careful playing around with mushrooms. Even professional mycologists have been caught off guard (and pretty regularly at that). Michael Pollan covers our cultural interactions with mushrooms in a chapter of his Omnivore's Dilemma, seems there's a lot about fungi where we still have no idea what's going on, and a lot of our aversion/survival instincts are very deeply wired when dealing with fungi (even to the point we need another human to point out safe varieties when hunting, one of the few times where reading it in a book doesn't override our deeper instincts).

1
Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

on January 26, 2012
at 06:43 AM

our paleo ancestors didnt eat cooked food. they didnt cook much of anything. so im pretty sure if it had a bitter taste it was spit out. most mushrooms are probably toxic to man. some are only toxic if consumed with alcohol and some are toxic raw but cooked are safe. one thing is certain, if it caused illness it was off the menu. our species survived because we could think.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 26, 2012
at 12:51 PM

Actually most species know what to eat and what not to eat. Heck, my goats know how much wild hemlock they can eat and will stop after a few minutes. Not surprising that the human animal can do the same.

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