There are a lot of food myths and urban legends floating around out there. What to believe? Whom can you trust? By God, is anything safe to eat in these troubled times?
The answer is yes. But also no. For example:
I was recently challenged by some family members as to my claim that green potatoes will kill you on sight. This came up during a meal at which I was observed carefully separating the green potato chips from the normal ones. Was I just playing with my food, sorting it out by color? No! Green potatoes (and, thus, their chiply spawn) are poisonous, toxic, deadly killers. No one believed me. “That sounds like an urban legend.” Indeed it does. But I knew I’d read it somewhere, and I vowed to prove that my eschewal of the green chips was not mere fussery.
According to my good friend, Snopes.com, a greenish potato contains a natural toxin called solanine, which in large enough quantities can cause
vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and even paralysis of the central nervous system.
Luckily, by “large quantities,” they mean about 4 and 1/2 pounds in one sitting. I can really only manage about 3 pounds, so even if I accidentally ingest some greenies, I’m probably OK.
And what about green potato chips? Well, the Straight Dope shares this warning from a specialist with the USDA:
While it is unlikely that anyone has ever become seriously ill from eating the small portions of green sometimes found on potato chips or french fries, some tummy aches could probably have been prevented. They definitely are not good for you!
SCORE! Green potatoes are bad. Now let’s dispel some pesky myths about other beloved foods.
Remember regular-sized carrots? I think they still make them. You had to wash them, peel them, slice them. What a nightmare. Thank god for the convenience of the baby carrot, tho now it seems that people are trying to ruin that for us, too. Claim:
Baby carrots are made from deformed full-sized carrots that have been soaked in chlorine.
The perpetrator of this vile rumor suggests smugly that we all “start making our own carrot sticks out of fresh carrots and keep them in the fridge.” Not bloody likely!
And, not to worry. Snopes assures us that “baby-cut” carrots are simply machine-cut from large sweet carrots and then scraped down to that adorable, edible size we all love. So, yes, it’s safe to throw out your vegetable peeler. Baby carrots are here to stay!
We have Snopes to thank for disproving these other food-related urban legends:
- Mayonnaise in fast food chicken sandwiches is NOT pus from a tumor
- Bubble Yum chewing gum does NOT contain spider eggs
- Sadly, the myth that “dropped food remains germ-free if picked up within 5 seconds” is just that
- Happily, the rumor that eating celery results in negative calories is true
- My very favorite food-related tidbit: you can tell which day a loaf of bread was baked by the color of its tag.
I hate to rely only on Snopes to clarify food issues, so I’ve come up with a few of my own findings:
Blood oranges do not, I repeat, do not contain blood. I wish the makers of blood oranges would’ve come up with a different name. Maybe “rosy red orange” or even “blorange.”
Red velvet cake is not make of red velvet. In fact, “red velvet” is not even a flavor. It’s just plain ol’ devil’s food cake with red food coloring. What makes red velvet cake taste so good? The cream cheese frosting!
That fake butter you put on popcorn? Turns out it’s actually good for you. Um . . . this may be a lie. But don’t you wish it was true?
They will eat absolutely anything at humor-blogs.