You’re in the midst of pulling together a meal and low and behold, you realize that the crucial piece of your meal has a few spots of mold on it. Whatever. You just cut around it right? We’ve all done it at one point or another and figured it’s probably fine. But the reality may be a little surprising…
We’re not the only ones who’ve done this right? While we’re not consuming bread very often these days and we’ve always been mold averse on food like leftovers or meat, it’s not uncommon to find a moldy spot on a tomato, melon, etc. and just cut it off and keep on rolling. While we’ve always felt a little uneasy about this when we’ve done it, we’ve never really stopped to think about what’s actually happening there.
This video from Science Insider shows what’s really going on and why you should be tossing that moldy food, like ALL of it.
It turns out, that contrary to what we tell ourselves, mold is in fact something to be concerned about, and not just those with allergies, children, or those who are immunocompromised. With thousands of species of mold out there, it’s actually possible to find yourself quite sick from just a little bit of mold exposure. Some molds can be toxic, and lead to anything from allergic responses, inflammation, respiratory and digestive discomfort, to more serious neurological and muscular complications. And no, you can just cook it away. Most molds are unaffected by significant amounts of heat. So, what we see on the surface of an item is only the tip of the iceberg and sadly means that it’s all gotta go– not just the strawberry you found in the bottom. Yeah, yeah… we know that penicillin and gorgonzola are made with mold… but trust us, not all mold is created equal, and it’s not worth the risk.
BUT- There are a few times you can cut away the mold and be just fine. On the whole, the harder the item, the less concerned about mold you need to be. So, items like hard cheeses, salamis, hard fruits and veggies (like butternut squash, carrots, pears) are less penetrable and can the mold can actually be cut off by paring away the mold itself and additionally trimming back the area by 1/2 of an inch or more.
For anything softer, like yogurt, berries, grapes, melons, citrus fruit, avocados, nuts or nut butters… it’s Got. To. Go.
So while we’ve often worried that as a country we’re way too quick to toss our food, this is one time you really shouldn’t think twice about tossing it. Sad about the food waste? Yeah, us too. But, maybe this is just the news we need to actually start composting and learn to buy only the food we’re really going to use.