Risking Haymarket Death

June 14th, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

June tomatoes

Despite the little round red terrorists, this morning was a good Haymarket day. I had to ask a couple of vendors and sure enough, they said people were wary of buying tomatoes, any tomatoes. One who sold me the tomatoes above said, “They point to the tomatoes and ask me, ‘Will those kill me?'”

Ironies abound.

We put all manner of junk, toxic quick and toxic slow, in our mouths. The faddish medical profession alarms the public as it has for centuries. It was green beans and cranberries when I was little. Like any other oh-now-we-know meme that follows the latest study or report of a death, tomatoes got it this month.

Moreover, tomatoes are poison. At least, the leaves and stems contain toxins. While a few people break out and otherwise react to touching tomato leaves, nearly all the rest of us would have to consume large amounts of tomatoes’ green parts to get sick.

The basis is that tomatoes are one of many members of the nightshade family. That includes the aptly named deadly nightshade (belladonna), petunia and potato. Leaves carry differing quantities of poison. Nice for us though, the yummy part of the plants, like taters and maters, do not.

Fact is, we get food poisoning regularly. It tends to be mild and quickly works its way through our gut or in severe cases out our mouths. It can be in dairy or meat or fish or fruits or vegetables. We all have to eat, but sometimes something bad is on or on our food. C’est la vie.

In this house, we have a food-poisoning joke that we try not to repeat around our first born. We lived in Greenwich Village and were out to dinner with a high-school chum, Pete Anderson, visiting from Denver. We had a long, fun evening at Jane Street Seafood.

During dinner, my wife felt a little ill and was concerned, being nine months pregnant. She didn’t want to harm the we-intentionally-didn’t-ask boy or girl. We went to bed, but unbeknownst to me, she got up in the night with what she knew then to be a bad piece of fish. She was in the big Kennedy rocker when sometime during the night she realized it wasn’t the fish. She woke me by saying she was in labor. Mild food poisoning has a lot fewer ramifications.

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