JUN 25, 2017 5:33 AM PDT

Why we like to eat "spoiled" food


Have you ever thought about how some of our favorite things to eat are foods that have technically gone bad? Chocolate, coffee, cheese, bread, and beer are all home to millions of tiny microbes who give these foods their special tastes. Now, don't worry, the microbes living in your morning coffee aren't harmful, on the contrary! Yet we tend to think of "spoiled" food as bad for you because the majority of it is dangerous to our health; that's why our ancestors developed genes to make us squeamish about rotten food. But yeast, the microbe that's responsible for making bread rise, and other "good" microbes can actually protect us from dangerous microbes by out-competing them in foods. That's what happens when we salt cure meats, like salami. By adding salt we're able to give a leg up to salt-loving microbes that can keep salt-sensitive microbes (like salmonella) out!

Another curious did-you-know fact is that some certain smelly microbial foods can grow on us, both literally and figuratively. In the figurative sense, the more we're exposed to certain smells caused by microbes, the more we tend to like them. Which is why it might take a while to really get in the kimchi groove or really crave prosciutto. Nevertheless, almost all cultures around the world use fermentation in cooking, whether it's in the form of soy sause, pickles, kefir, or kombucha or wine!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 22, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 22, 2019
Boeing Launches Botched Starliner Demo Mission for NASA
Boeing finally moved forward with the initial un-crewed test launch of its Starliner Commercial Crew spacecraft for NASA at the end of this past week follo...
JAN 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 14, 2020
How Much Do You Know About Jupiter?
Jupiter, recognized by most as the largest known planet in our solar system, is a particularly interesting place. So interesting, in fact, that NASA sent a...
JAN 19, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 19, 2020
A Brief Summary of Everything We Know About Pluto
Pluto was once considered one of the solar system’s planets but was later downgraded to the status of ‘dwarf’ planet after several more s...
JAN 25, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 25, 2020
Are You Still Working on Your New Year's Resolution?
There are a few cardinal rules when it comes to goal-setting, and you've probably heard them all before. Goals will be successful if they are specific-...
FEB 07, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 07, 2020
Earth's Magnetic Field Debuted Over 4 Billions Ago, and It was Much Stronger
The existence of a diverse atmosphere on our planet is crucial for life. On top of being in the goldilocks zone, another life-supporting feature of our Ear...
FEB 13, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 13, 2020
Equations for Chaos: A Mathematic Paradox
Equations are ordered, elegant mathematical constructs used to describe specific patterns. Can you imagine some formulas depict the very opposite: chaos an...
Loading Comments...