Culinary Russian Roulette

Would you eat something that could kill you? You’d think that would be an easy question to answer. However, many people eat things that could kill them! For example, Fugu, or puffer fish, is a delicacy in Japan that when prepared incorrectly, could contain a deadly toxin. Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin in the fugu’s blood that blocks voltage-gated sodium channels and prevents the passage of sodium ions, therefore inhibiting the firing of action potentials in nerve cells. TTX causes paralysis and can be lethal within minutes of consumption (Buerk, 2012). If you know this, then why would you ever want to take the chance of eating something that could kill you instantly?!

Evolutionarily, we have specifically developed strategies to avoid foods that can harm us. For example, we subconsciously create taste aversions to foods that make us sick. Remember that one time you accidentally ate undercooked chicken, and you couldn’t eat it for a few months after? Even though you loved chicken before, you felt sick just from the thought of eating chicken again. This is because you developed the association between chicken = throwing up, so your brain made you not want to eat it again. Specifically, the area in your brain called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex is responsible for creating taste aversions to foods that have previously been associated with harm or punishment (Chatterjee, 2014). Creating taste aversions to foods that could be potentially poisonous is an evolutionary benefit that helps us distinguish between foods that nourish or threaten us (Chatterjee, 2014).

So why would you eat something that you already know could be poisonous if prepared incorrectly? There is NO evolutionary benefit to eating it. However, the actual risk and reward associated with consuming fugu may be driving some people’s desire to try it. Our reward system could be involved in this anticipation of eating something that could be dangerous, and then living through it. For example, when we experience the risk and uncertainty of whether to eat fugu, our amygdala, anterior insula, and our lateral orbitofrontal cortex are activated. In addition, when weighing the costs and benefits of consuming fugu, many parts of our reward systems (orbitofrontal cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, anterior insula, and the anterior cingulate) may be working together to help us make the decision to eat fugu (Chatterjee, 2014). The neurotransmitter dopamine is also directly involved in the prediction of future rewards (Chatterjee, 2014). This means that when you are deciding whether to try fugu, your reward systems weigh the costs and benefits, and dopamine may also be flooding your system. This combination of active reward brain areas and dopamine release may all feed into the anticipation of experiencing pleasure through eating a tasteful meal but by also “living to tell the tale”.

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Sadly, it’s NOT just the puffer fish that is dangerous for people to eat. The “word” has been long ignored by society. As long as big business (consumables) allows creates poisoned food to exist, people will continue to eat it up.


About Kenneth T.

My blog, My way Welcome to a little piece of my life. Here you will find things concerning my everyday experiences and or my thoughts on everyday happenings. For instance you may find thoughts of my Farmstead, which is as my wife calls it, our Accidental Farming life. Perhaps on a whim, I might just jump on a soap box about what's going on with my crazy family (the immediate one, that is).~You don't need to put a penny in the coin slot for any commentary there~ You may find, new additions to what I call "Hobby-time". Ahh yes, my hobby... I make pinback buttons (some call them badges). Sorry for the shameful plug ;-) *** And then there is the outside the box or "Offtrack" thinking, part of me. Which can be anything else from aliens to the zoology of the Loch Ness monster, but will probably be more mundane as health concerns, for instance, to vaccinate or not. Is the Earth Flat or is it Hollow? Is there a dome? Is any of it real? Do you really want to know? Police brutality and the continuing corruption of established government, Big Business, Big Oil, Big Brother. Can we survive? Should we survive? The coming montrary collapse. There is so much going on, more then we see outside our windows.
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