In this video from the TED-Ed YouTube channel, plant biologist Elizabeth Brauer explains what those weird spots on fruits and vegetables are. Turns out, those imperfections are mostly cosmetic, yet a lot of people think it means the produce is starting to spoil.
The cause is actually microbes or fungi that are attacking the plant, but they’re almost never harmful for you to ingest. Why? Because they have evolved over millions of years to compromise plant immune systems, not yours. Their attack strategies won’t work on a healthy human’s immune system.
Brauer does note, however, that those dark or mushy spots won’t taste very good. That said, the rest of the fruit or vegetable will taste fine, so you can cut around them and easily salvage the rest. The dangerous stuff, like E.coli, hangs around on the surface of produce, not in the skin. So washing your produce is what’s important, not avoiding the spots.
So the next time you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market, keep that in mind as you browse their offerings. If you spot some fruits and vegetables that don’t look perfect, it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can purchase them at a serious discount. They will probably end up throwing them out anyway.