Tuesday, January 16, 2007

You say potato; I say poison?

While reading recent post on ACME Instant Food it got me thinking about some food safety myths. Evidently he tossed some red potatoes because they had sprouted and warned all not to eat them. You can imagine my horror because that would be quite wasteful. I always just cut off the sprouted or green bits and cook them, the potatoes not the crud. Had I been wrong all this time? Egad I wouldn't want to poison anyone, especially myself.

After a long research on the 'net I did find some answers. The US Department of Agriculture, they have a lovely big building on the mall in Washington but that has nothing to do with potatoes, has a lot to say about this veggie. They even have a brochure you can download. Who needs this much info unless you are twelve and writing a report for school. The following is from an article How to buy potatoes.


Look for potatoes that are free from cuts and blemishes. You should avoid buying potatoes that have a green coloring to them. This "greening" is caused by exposure to natural or artificial light. Sometimes only the skin is affected, but greening may penetrate the flesh. The green portions contain the alkaloid solanin, which causes a bitter flavor and may have a poisonous effect when consumed in great quantities. Also avoid badly sprouted or shriveled potatoes.

Wikipedia also has something to say about the toxicity. Seems like you'd have to ingest quite a bit but they do have a scary bit about birth defects. So maybe pregnant moms should watch it closely.

Bottom line: You probably would have to serve a plate of steaming potato eyes to kill anyone but for someone very young or very old or otherwise health compromised it does pose a potential problem. For me, I'll cut off the sprouts but if it's green and the raw potato tastes bitter I'd avoid cooking or eating that one. Not that I have to worry but--pregnant moms--stay away from the green potatoes.

The cost of a potato isn't worth some future health issues. If you're creative you can come up with some other yummy recipe like Acme did. Asian Grilled Steak and Noodles.


wheresmymind said...

My wife will eat just about anything if I didn't watch her. She dropped some pasta on the floor (dried) and was gonna rinse it off and give it to me...ICK!

mooncrazy said...

Jeff, unless you live in a hovel, which you don't, you shouldn't worry about that. She was going to boil the pasta for at least five minutes. Some germs are ok, honest.

By the way, use hovel in a sentence today and win 500 points!

Acme Instant Food said...

Funny! I too pondered the source of my sprouted spud concerns and found much of the same info you did. There was conflicting opinions, but I think most agree that the odds of getting sick are rare. I'm a serious creature of habit though and I bet I continue to toss 'em once they show signs of renewed growth. I suppose this turned out well for me because the asian steak and noodles dinner I made instead was really good!

Thanks for the mention! :)

Sylvie said...

Interesting. I guess I was like you. I just cut off the bad parts and used the rest. Never got sick. Now I'll think twice about using sprouted or green potatoes even though it probably makes no difference.

Erin S. said...

Aha...thanks for clearing that up, I was wondering after reading the Acme post. I just cut mine out and am not dead yet :)

Anonymous said...

i had two buckets of prep tossed on me because the potatoes had turned slightly brown. brown.not green. I've never made anyone sick before. it was for soup. who cares. sautée those botches on grokking (if you're wondering about the spelling i used the spell check) high heat already.two buckets. i cried. then i quit. the wonders of young managers never cease to amaze me.

medisin said...

Wow, people are so paranoid. Probably because they believe all the alarmist websites on the internet. If you have any level of paranoia at all, you should avoid the net, it'll only make you worse, you'll end up too scared to leave the house, and also too scared to stay in the house, then where will you go?

I've eaten plenty of dubious looking potatoes in my time and never even had a tummy ache from them.

Also, regarding floor food, my dad and several of his very young children actually do live in a hovel, with some cats, and floor food never hurt them. You need some exposure to germs anyway to give your immune system practice. If boiling the pasta didn't kill all the germs, your stomach acid probably would. So unless your wife is regularly incapacitated by bouts of salmonella or botulism, what she's eating isn't doing her any harm. Don't be such a girl!