Irrational Food Fears

I am so behind at work and house stuff, I thought “Oh I will blog that later. Maybe.” I then decided moments ago that I am so behind that this quick post won’t put me any significant amount MORE behind schedule.

Part of running behind (though not as much as I’d (or you’d) like to think) is chatting — not here– but elsewhere about this an that.

One thing that came up is food fears. I have some. I know LOGICALLY that they make no sense. I also know that they make a little bit a sense and the rest is irrational.

So…out with it: I fear rhubarb. Don’t tell me. I know. Only poisonous if you eat…or if it is raw or if it is x amount. You’ve been eating it all your life that way.

I also have the same sort of irrational fears about:
1. bean sprouts
2. raw pistachios and cashews
3. green potatoes
4. I always worry about mangoes because some people who are allergic to poison ivy also react to mangoes

I however have eaten (and not died) :

1. raw ground beef and raw bacon (sorry Angelina, I know that probably troubles you just in general) My mother probably lost quite a bit of ground beef from this when I was a kid. I am vaguely troubled by ground beef because of e coli – especially when there is an outbreak. Then I don’t want to touch it.

2. Raw Oysters. In the 70s, from the Chesapeake.

3. Various peculiar things like olive loaf, aspics, and scrapple (not inherently “dangerous” but not generally err popular)

4. Sauces, dressings, desserts, and batters with raw eggs, “raw” milk (before it was “raw milk” as a thing) and undercooked pork– all of these of debatable food safety. See above rhubarb issues

5. Home canned tomatoes and other vegetables that didn’t have acid added for food safety or canned in a way that people call safe. Oddly I had more of a fear of my mother’s crabapple jelly because of the wax saying petroleum on the box.

6. Tomato leaves.

The thing most of these has in common is that “danger” foods that I don’t eat were foods not commonly available in my home when I was growing up, except the potato thing. My father had issues with green potatoes too though, so maybe that seemed like a valid thing?

He also would rant about all peppers being poison particularly cooked. I thought this was indigestion. I later read that all peppers have a small amount of poison and cooking does concentrate it. I still go with indigestion not food sensitivity.

Ok, out with it. Any food fears? Rational? Irrational?


  1. I fear no food.

    I just fear the evil supplement — fiber.

  2. I don’t have food fears but I have a lot of food aversions. It’s not quite the same thing. I would definitely be uncomfortable eating mushrooms I don’t recognized by any person I don’t happen to trust as truly knowledgeable about wild mushrooms. But that’s never happened to me so I can’t really call it a real fear.

    I definitely don’t fear raw eggs but I think raw dough is gross and so is eggnog and pretty much all other things raw eggs make an appearance in. Just – gross. But I’m not afraid of getting salmonella from them. And obviously you don’t either.

    I think it’s funny that you’re afraid of sprouts. Why? Is there supposed to be something that can happen to you if you eat them? And I don’t get the fear of cashews and pistachios either – are they known to poison people? I know nuts can be troublesome for quite a few people – are you just worried about discovering you have an allergy to them?

    I love this topic!

  3. This is such an interesting topic! I could talk about it all day. 🙂 I don’t like bean sprouts due to their looks but I’m not afraid of them. I don’t know if I fear any food except aspics. I grew up drinking buttermilk, eating head cheese, liverwurst, etc. I drew the line at trying lutefisk which my dad cooked and ate. It stunk so bad, it couldn’t possibly be good. I also couldn’t bring myself to eat a snail. My mom instilled in me that potato skin is poisonous so I won’t eat the skins but will eat green potatoes (peeled). I’ve got to ask, why did you eat tomato leaves?

  4. Chrisor: Tomato leaves? Because they smelled so good. I was a kid. My mother had a garden. The leaves smelled great.

  5. Angelina,
    Bean sprouts contain a toxin that really should be cooked out of them. Some of them are higher than others. The other issue with all sprouts (not just bean) is that the way they are sprouted and handled is pretty much a petri dish for all sorts of food born illnesses–e coli and salmonella among them. This means if you don’t sprout them yourself, and you pick them up from a store/grower, you are grabbing something kept moist and bacteria friendly with questionable handling. Some commercial companies do chemical disinfection to the seeds and sprouts which makes me question it a bit too.

    Raw pistachios and cashews carry toxins that can lead to death or reactions. Urushiol-which is in poison ivy is the one that cooking tames. Aflatoxins are the bigger danger and cooking isn’t going to eliminate that problem. The aflatoxins are also a concern with nut butters and other nuts. I tend to look askance at peanut butter grinders at stores for that reason. Really, with food handling and import laws for these nuts–it is definitely on the irrational list. I eat pistachios and cashews quite a bit. (or did before my Crohns–no nuts are friendly to my ulcerated guts. I still love them but am more reserved in my consumption.) It is just the RAW–as in un-roasted that concerns me.

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