A taste of poison paradise?
November 15, 2008 10:04 PM   Subscribe

How can I test my family's garden vegetables for nutrition/toxins?

My father just finished canning 70 quarts of green beans. I like them (really) and I am glad that my kids may end up liking vegetables too through their consumption. But, seeing as how I grew up eating them and I will probably be dining on them occasionally for the next 10 (!) years, it might be nice to reassure myself that they are harmless at worst.

Is there a program or company somewhere that offers to test food or vegetables for harmful content and nutrition?
posted by gensubuser to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Check your state's department of agriculture. You should only need to check the soil; if there's no toxins in the soil, your tomatoes aren't going to be generating it spontaneously from the air.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:33 PM on November 15, 2008

I think he may be referring more to canning toxins, i.e. botulism. The OP only has to type botulism and cans into Google to get basic hints, so it's sounding like he/she's asking about a test kit of some kind. Good question, as I'm inconsolably freaked out by home canned stuff too, even if the seal is good.
posted by crapmatic at 10:36 PM on November 15, 2008

Ahh. Heh, reading comprehension fail.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:53 PM on November 15, 2008

Whether or not your home-canned goods go off or not is really due to the skill and carefulness of the canner. Generally speaking, home-canned stuff is good for 12-24 months (this is according to my mom). Botulism is more a concern with low-acid canned goods (so, not tomatoes, for example). Check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I wouldn't suggest eating canned green beans for 10 years, but for two? Sure. If your parents are old hands at canning, so much more the better. My mom's been bringing us home-made salsa, home-made canned stewed tomatoes, peach preserves, and whatever else she's making since they are making like it's Y2K out there in the country. It's pretty awesome.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:31 AM on November 16, 2008

so, not tomatoes, for example

Not true, tomatoes aren't acidic enough by themselves to prevent botulism. They have to be canned with vinegar added.

Were the green beans pickled? If not, were they pressure canned? Pickling and pressure canning are two ways to prevent botulism.
posted by TungstenChef at 8:13 AM on November 16, 2008

The Cooperative Extension Service will be in the phone book under US Governemnt agencies. They do soil tests, and can provide masses of information about home-canned food safety. they're a really great resource.
posted by theora55 at 8:08 AM on November 17, 2008

Response by poster: For posterity, I report: I contacted my local major universitie's Green food Farm program, and they were completely befuddled by why I would want such a service. Apparently a green bean is a green bean is a green bean, which is good to know I guess, and probably suggests that I'm overreacting.

I would have thought laboratories existed to measure Protein, Carbohydrate, and Fat content, in addition to botulism, even if at a prohibitive cost. But, I will contact this CES before I whine any more.
posted by gensubuser at 1:07 PM on December 16, 2008

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