It is evident that when it comes to food, technology is working miracles for a better environment, what with inventing edible water bottles and edible coffee cups. There are, however, some ancient edible pieces of nature that most of us don’t know can be safely consumed by humans.
Here at Bright Side, we took a dive deep into the web to find out about some astonishing things that have been eaten since the beginning of time.
1. Tree bark
Tree bark has been consumed by almost everyone since the beginning of time, and the most commonly eaten bark is cinnamon. However, it is possible to grind the inner bark of many trees and make flour with it — you can even create your own pasta and baked goods instead of using regular flour.
The inner bark part of the tree is called cambium and according to research, pine tree bark has many health benefits. It can lower glucose levels and boost immunity since it helps the body absorb more vitamin C from foods and acts as a skin protector against UV light.
At first glance, cactus seems like a plant you would avoid at all costs, and the idea of eating it can be a little bit appalling since they’re so spiky. There are however a few varieties that are edible and can be used in many dishes after being carefully prepared. One example is the nopales cactus — it tastes like cucumber and is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids.
The cockscomb is that red wiggly crown on top of a chicken’s head and surprisingly, not only is it edible, but it’s also delicious. It’s served in different exotic cuisines such as China and France where they are used as garnishes. According to research, the chicken’s comb is used in injections to treat knee osteoarthritis.
Recently, eggshells were proven to be a great plant fertilizer, but what is more surprising is that they can be consumed as a calcium supplement due to their high mineral content. There are, of course, some steps that one should take before consuming them.
The eggshells have to be organic, and they should both be boiled and baked to 200 degrees. In addition to that, they need to be finely ground. However, there are some dangers to eating eggshells since all natural calcium supplements contain large amounts of toxic metals such as mercury.
Don’t be fooled by the shiny exterior of chemically treated leather because at its purest form it can actually be eaten. Ponmo, for example, is cow’s skin which has been processed to be consumed with beef and it’s a very common delicacy in Nigeria. However, there are a lot of disputes on whether it is healthy or not, and scientists reached the conclusion that it has no nutritional value.
Dandelions are the healthiest edible object on this list and their outer beauty matches their nutritional benefits. They are rich in vitamin C, A and K, they are rich in antioxidants, and they’re a great source of potassium and iron. In addition to that, they were used in many cultures as medicine to treat inflammations and prepare different medicines. It is important to note that they should be grown organically if they are intended for human consumption.
Gold is biologically inert, which means it does not chemically react and it can pass through the digestive system without being absorbed into the intestine. This is the reason why we see it as a decoration in many deserts featuring chocolate. 24-carat gold is usually sold in sheets or in flakes — this makes it the purest form of gold for consumption. If the gold leaves have less than a 24-carat value it becomes less pure due to other chemical ingredients and it is not as safe to eat.
We all know the beauty benefits of clay since it is such a huge part of the beauty industry in general. There are, however, parts of the world where people eat clay as part of their diet on a regular basis -especially the Middle East and Africa. It’s also taken as a supplement by people who are zinc deficient. In addition to that, it supports healthy digestion by removing toxins from the gut. Keep in mind that in order to consume clay, it should be of food-grade quality.
Chalk is a natural and a non-toxic substance; since it’s pure calcium carbonate. Even though it does not offer any health benefits to the person consuming chalk, it is safe to eat. Most people who crave and eat it very often suffer from a condition called pica which makes people crave non-nutritional items and this occurs when someone is pregnant or iron deficient.
The reason non-toxic play-doh is so popular nowadays is due to the fact that kids love to eat it and many companies decided to make it as safe as possible for children to play with. Non-toxic play-doh is made from flour, food coloring, water, salt, mineral oil, and boric acid. It is NOT recommended however to consume play-doh regularly, and if it happens, always call a poison control center to find out whether it’s safe or not.
11. Birds’ nests
Edible birds’ nests are a huge part of China’s food industry mainly because of their unique taste and high nutritional value. They are made out of the saliva of cave-dwelling birds called swiftlets in Southeast Asia. Due to the fact that they are very dangerous to harvest and difficult to prepare they cost more than $4,000 a pound.
They are rich in protein and packed with amino acids, anti-inflammatory properties and anti-oxidants. Traditionally, they were consumed in soups but now they are added as the main ingredient in a variety of foods, drinks and even cosmetic products.
Eating dirt is very common especially among children, but interestingly, it is common among adults as well. There is an interesting practice called Geophagia and it translates literally to “eating the earth” and its soil-like substances such as chalk. Eating dirt, however, can be very dangerous especially because of the chemicals and parasites it contains. In some cases though, if the soil is 100% organic and has not been treated with any chemicals, it is safe for human consumption.
How many of these items did you know you could eat? Please let us know in the comments below!