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
SEP 01, 2020
Plants & Animals
Warsaw Zoo Testing CBD to Manage Elephants' Stress
SEP 01, 2020
Warsaw Zoo Testing CBD to Manage Elephants' Stress
Humans use cannabidiol (CBD) for its array of health benefits, and household pets even benefit from CBD treatments in sp ...
SEP 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
Scientists Document Swimming Styles of Sea Butterflies
SEP 10, 2020
Scientists Document Swimming Styles of Sea Butterflies
Snails, marine and terrestrial, are likely primarily imagined to be attached to a substrate. However, under the waves, t ...
OCT 09, 2020
Plants & Animals
Humpback Whales Thriving in NYC Waters
OCT 09, 2020
Humpback Whales Thriving in NYC Waters
Over the past decade, humpback whales have become increasingly common in waters known as the New York-New Jersey Bight. ...
OCT 15, 2020
Health & Medicine
An Estimated 38 Million People were Exposed to Polluted Wildfire Smoke
OCT 15, 2020
An Estimated 38 Million People were Exposed to Polluted Wildfire Smoke
As wildfires continue to burn record-breaking acreages along the west coast of the United States and inland regions, hos ...
NOV 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
NOV 06, 2020
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
Researchers have found that there could be at least 300 million habitable worlds in the Milky Way galaxy. This could mea ...
NOV 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
NOV 12, 2020
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
Orca pods heavily depend on vocal communication for survival. Their unique ability to communicate with other pod members ...
Loading Comments...