You’ve looked forward to that treat in your fridge all day. You eagerly open the fridge, and prepare to indulge.
Only to discover a patch of mold.
Mold has an eerie fluffy, dark, and nefarious quality to it. What can you do?
Cut off the mold and enjoy, or find something else.
Don’t get me wrong, from studying the gut microbiome, I know the perils of over-sanitization. You might get away with eating moldy food. I used to salvage what I could by cutting around patches of mold. When I learned about mycotoxins I immediately stopped.
What is Mold?
Mold is an ancient type of living fungus. Not all mold is bad or dangerous.
You’ll find it everywhere. Mold lives throughout the world, especially in warm, moist areas. Without mold, organic matter wouldn’t decompose. We even harness it to produce drugs like penicillin.
Despite its prevalence, you’re best off not eating mold-contaminated food.
How Mold Makes You Sick
Mold and your garden plants have something in common.
- Mold has the equivalent of a root network below the surface, permeating throughout the food.
- Plants too have a root system invisible from the surface.
Some species are harmless. Others produce chemical toxins.
Mold colonies produce some powerful toxins. You don’t know if, or how much toxin is in your moldy food.
One prevalent toxin in particular, called aflatoxin, is implicated with cancer, and even death in large quantities.
Your Ancient Biological Rivalry
Your mitochondria, or “powerhouses of the cell”, are at risk.
These components of the cell are age-old nemesis of mold.
They’ve battled each other using chemical warfare. That’s why exposure to mold is correlated with:
- Mitochondria damage
Mold’s toxic chemical compounds are worse. Aflatoxins, for example, negatively affect nearly every body system.
Cutting Around the Mold
Throughout my childhood we simply cut around mold.
That might work. Cutting around the mold works for some harder foods but not soft foods.
The USDA put together a safety sheet here on which foods you can safely cut mold out of and consume.
I now religiously toss spoiled food. Is it worth the risk?
Preventing Mold From Growing on Food
Store your food properly.
Some food doesn’t belong in the refrigerator.
Understanding how to store food properly is the first step. Grocery-store produce goes bad frustratingly quick.
In her book, The Cure is in the Cupboard, Dr. Cass Ingram presents a hack to vastly extend the shelf life of foods.
I use it to great success. That trick?A drop or two of carvacrol applied to everyday foods can keep them fresh for weeks past their normal expiration! Click To Tweet
Carvacrol is such a powerful anti-microbial that it can double the shelf-life of tuna.
Where do you get it?
Oil of oregano. To get it in high enough concentrations, choose an organic, concentrated oil of oregano product with a Carvacrol percentage of at least 80 percent.
I use this brand:
Eating Moldy Food Is Not Worth the Risk
Tossing perfectly good food with a spot of mold may seem wasteful.
The best cure is prevention:
- Store food properly at the right temperature.
- Discard or store spoiling food separately to prevent spreading.
- Add the natural ingredient carvacrol to further preserve shelf-life.
Eventually, food will go bad.
As a general rule of thumb: toss moldy soft foods, and look into hard foods.
Remember, what you don’t see can harm you. DNA damage from X-Rays and heavy metals in food, for example.
You may eat moldy food your entire life and never get overtly sick. All it takes is one aflatoxin-containing bite to cause extreme sickness or disease.