Are there any major downsides to becoming a human garbage disposal?
May 21, 2009 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Are there any downsides to becoming a human garbage disposal? I'm tired of composting and/or throwing out vegetable material. Would there be any seriously ill effects if I just started eating all of the vegetal "waste," i.e. peels, rinds, seeds, myself? What about egg shells?
posted by mrgrimm to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
aside from taste and the eggshells possibly scratching on the way down? Probably not...
posted by jerseygirl at 4:31 PM on May 21, 2009

Some of this stuff is not digestible so it will just come out the other end and go into the sewage treatment system instead of a compost heap. That's probably not great for the environment and energy use.

What is motivating this? Is it really just boredom? Eventually you will get bored of eating and then evacuating indigestible and unpalatable waste.
posted by grouse at 4:34 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Prepare for some intestinal distress. There are a lot of things that you cannot digest but that bacteria in your gut can digest. e.g. beans, lactose for lactose intolerant people. Most of these processes give off gas as a side-effect.

Also, chewing orange peels - really? You're going to need some willpower for that one.
posted by GuyZero at 4:46 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just for anecdotal purposes, my grandmother used to eat the rinds and skins of all the fruits she ate regularly. Supposedly her doctor gave her a massive thumbs up for eating orange rind. It seems like it's not uncommon.

In terms of vegetables, all the vegetables I like have healthy (and tasty!) skins, stems, or "containers" you can eat, such as potatoes, peas, carrots, and broccoli (indeed, I'm told broccoli stems are healthier than the heads), but your milage may vary! I'd say just analyze it on an item by item basis..
posted by wackybrit at 4:52 PM on May 21, 2009

When I said orange rind, I meant skin. Some miscellaneous opinions on that..
posted by wackybrit at 4:53 PM on May 21, 2009

Lots of seeds are good for you, like raw (but dry) pumpkin seeds. I wouldn't try to eat the pumpkin 'shell' though. YMMV.
posted by JenMarie at 4:55 PM on May 21, 2009

Best answer: Small amounts of orange and lemon skins are very healthy - but one major caveat: make sure they are organic. The same caveat goes for other skins and shells - a lot of pesticides don't make it inside the fruit/vegetable, but remain in the skin, and you don't want to ingest huge amounts of this.

It all depends on the fruit and vegetable in question. Many outer layers of these have benefits, in fiber at the very least, but then many do not. This question is too broad.

Better to ask on a case by case basis. Wrt. eggshells, it's fine, again though, make sure they're thoroughly cleaned.
posted by VikingSword at 5:01 PM on May 21, 2009

I'm highly sensitive to the oils in citrus skin. I'd not want to get any in my oropharynx.

Some fruits (I'm thinking of mangos, but there are others) have a latex in their skin that many people are very allergic to. Hachiya persimmons have a very astringent skin; it's like eating a spoonful of alum.

How do you feel about the rotten, moldy or crush-bruised, partially fermented/spoiled parts that get trimmed off?

Have you ever put a piece of pineapple skin in your mouth and tried to chew it? They're armoured. Their "stem" is leaves that are tough and sharp.

Many food items would be no problem, especially if you don't let the compost sit around for too long before you dig in. Some food items... problem.
posted by reflecked at 5:05 PM on May 21, 2009

Green potato skins, and potato eyes, are poisonous. "...headaches, diarrhea, cramps and in severe cases coma and death."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:05 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

i eat orange skins/rinds all the time. everything but the seeds.
posted by msconduct at 5:10 PM on May 21, 2009

If you're just looking for a way to waste less vegetable matter, you can save a lot of vegetable trimmings and use them to make vegetable stock.
posted by Gortuk at 5:15 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

I've heard of people eating the entire apple, core and all. When I eat kiwis, I eat the whole thing, which has had no ill effects. I think it really depends on what it is.
posted by emilyd22222 at 5:23 PM on May 21, 2009

As brought up in a recent AskMe (original comment here) downsides to acting in such an unusual manner range from being considered eccentric to downright batshit-fucking crazy.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:27 PM on May 21, 2009

2nding the idea of making vegetable broth with the trimmings. Just keep a tupperware-like container in the freezer & when it's full boil/crock pot them til you render out the deliciousness contained within (you could also puree them with a (stick) blender after cooking). I'm also a huge fan of eating fruits skin & all. Just be careful about chewing the seeds, some fruit seeds are considered hazardous (i.e. apples - although I've never had a problem with them).
posted by torquemaniac at 5:54 PM on May 21, 2009

Best answer: Citrus fruits and bananas (of the non organic variety) are sprayed with copious amounts of highly toxic chemicals, and the allowable limits for these toxins are higher because of the assumption that the peels will not be consumed and will protect the edible flesh from toxins. There are many reasons only to eat organic foods, but specifically I would not consume non organic citrus or banana peels.
posted by kch at 5:56 PM on May 21, 2009

I'm not a doctor, but I can only imagine that if you ate those things, you would probably want to stick near a restroom most of the time until you knew how it affected you.
posted by ishotjr at 6:41 PM on May 21, 2009

I've heard of people eating the entire apple, core and all.

I was about to jump in and say.. but there's CYANIDE in apple seeds! But I Googled first, and while there is cyanide in apple seeds, it's an almost irrelevant amount. Snopes has a solid analysis. Other sources indicate you'd need to crush about 100mg of seeds (half a cup or so - so perhaps from 20-30 apples?) and ingest them all in one go to even "be ill," but don't take my word on that ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 6:58 PM on May 21, 2009

Best answer: Hooves and horns, seeds and peels.
Mrgrimm, how do you feel?
Turkey bones and old tea leaves.
Mrgrimm, your gums will bleed
Rhubarb leaves and pufferfish heads.
Mrgrimm, you will be dead.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:27 PM on May 21, 2009 [6 favorites]

If you have diverticulitis or diverticulosis and don't know it, small seeds can cause you some serious problems.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:31 PM on May 21, 2009

Some of the things on certain plants which we throw away, we throw away for a reason.

For example:

* Rhubarb stalks are yummy, but rhubarb leaves are very toxic.

* Mango skins contain a chemical that, for some people, acts exactly like the resin on poison ivy and poison oak. So if you touch a mango, you could get a rash. If you are one of those people and you EAT a mango skin, you face having poison ivy rash in your innards.

* Apple seeds can be toxic.

* Green potato skins are toxic to humans.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:52 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've found that organic lemon peels are excellent in salad dressing and fish marinade. But seriously, becoming a human goat is hard. Composting is not hard. It just happens.
posted by kamelhoecker at 8:34 PM on May 21, 2009

i think the compost bacteria matrix does a more efficient job of processing these products than your gut + local wastewater treatment facility.

you are hurting the planet.
posted by geos at 9:25 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't try to eat the pumpkin 'shell' though.
JenMarie, why not? It is what pumpkin pie filling is made from. (Although I'm seconding the "many raw parts are indigestible" caution.)

And, geos:
you are hurting the planet.
Feeling a tad melodramatic today?

Finally, mrgrimm, I believe this idea falls under the purview of pica. I'm asking with love: Any other instances in your life that fit the definition?
posted by IAmBroom at 9:53 PM on May 21, 2009

nth-ing the make it into stock option. i have a bag of broccoli bits waiting for just such a treatment now
posted by nadawi at 2:40 AM on May 22, 2009

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned these two yet:
  1. You can candy citrus peels, pith and all. Blanch them in a few changes of water to remove some of the pithy bitterness (although they're tastier if you leave them slightly bitter), simmer them in sugar-water syrup until they're translucent, and leave them out to cool.
  2. You can pickle watermelon rind. I haven't done it myself, but there are loads of recipes online.

posted by nebulawindphone at 5:48 AM on May 22, 2009

IAmBroom, that picture of the stomach contents of a PICA sufferer completely croggles me. *shudder*
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:50 AM on May 22, 2009

Best answer: I'm not so sure about the efficiency of the compost pile vs. wastewater treatment plant. Our wastewater plant generates power by recapturing methane and composts the sludge for reuse.
posted by electroboy at 6:58 AM on May 22, 2009

Best answer: When we eat shrimp, everyone but my father has a pile of shells. He eats them. When we eat chicken legs, everyone but my father has leg bones on their plate. He eats both ends down, so that the bone is half the original length. He is 75 and in great health.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 7:24 AM on May 22, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the informative answers. Lots of good stuff here. This question was definitely no joke.

"How exactly are you "tired" of composting? You take stuff and throw it on the ground in a pile. I don't know what could be easier."

I live in a 3rd floor apartment and usually have to carry the tiny compost bin down to the big pickup container almost every day. Less bored than tired of walking up and down the steps to empty it. (Right now (see below), I'm not, but I have other mobility issues.)

Finally, mrgrimm, I believe this idea falls under the purview of pica. I'm asking with love: Any other instances in your life that fit the definition?

No worries. I've always had a bit of an oral fixation, but it's usually more about sticking stuff in my mouth, not eating it. And the grosser stuff (ymmv) like crayons, clay, dirt, poo, etc. does not appeal to me at all.

I just figure a lot of the stuff I would normally compost *does* have some nutritional value. And I was just wondering if some of the stuff I would normally compost is really good for me, e.g. potato or orange skins.

"Case-by-case" basis does seem like the smartest approach, of course. I've always eaten the whole apple, seeds and all, because I'm too lazy to deal with the detritus.

As an aside, I'm also in a wheelchair now due to an accident, so getting up and down and moving around to throw stuff away is a major pain in the ass. I'd rather reserve that energy for rehab.

Thanks again for the honest feedback.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2009

Best answer: Seeds that contain cyanide with some dosage levels; an apple core once in a while won't kill you, but it's possible with some of the others. I've read that the skins of potatoes and carrots contain many of the nutrients of the plant and should be eaten (although mind what Chocolate Pickle said about the potato eyes). And there are probably other parts of plants that can be eaten or somehow used, a la turnip greens, but really, I think that you want to look up each vegetable or food scrap on Wikipedia or something to check first, to be safe.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:42 PM on May 22, 2009

mrgrimm, glad to hear it, and sorry to hear of your disability. Perhaps a worm compost would be a better solution for you, in the meantime?
posted by IAmBroom at 3:14 PM on May 22, 2009

I think you're right about the case-by-case approach, and for the less digestible stuff, definitely listen to grouse's good logic. (If you've got a handful of, say, eggshells, which is worst for the environment in terms of energy usage: composting them, throwing them in the trash, or throwing them in the toilet and flushing? Eating them is equivalent to throwing them in the toilet; they won't nourish you or get broken down in your digestive system.)
posted by kalapierson at 10:11 PM on May 22, 2009

« Older Bikes and such.   |   Midweek SF Brunch? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.