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We all try our best to reduce food waste in the home. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we may try, some items always seem to go rotten inside of the fridge and need to be tossed. After all, expiration dates for various vegetables are not always readily available so we have to go with our gut instinct in these instances.

Potatoes are especially challenging to keep fresh for too long. In many instances, they will grow cumbersome sprouts before they are ready to be thrown away. Can we eat them or will they need to be thrown away? These greenish bumps are knotty and cause the potato to appear rotten. While they are not appetizing, that does not mean that we need to throw the entire potato away.

These sprouts emerge as a sign, letting us know that the potato is ready to grow. Once the potato has already been harvested, it enters a more dormant state. If the potato had not been harvested, these sprouts would have the chance to become new plants.

Image by Ирина Ирина from Pixabay

The question about whether we can still consume these potatoes is a rather complicated one. The sprouts themselves are definitely not edible by any stretch of the imagination. They contain numerous toxins that are better off being avoided. If you ignore the warnings and consume the sprouts, you are leaving yourself susceptible to vomiting, headaches, and various digestive issues.

However, you cannot cut the sprouts off and expect the potato to become nontoxic. Poison Control recommends throwing these potatoes in the trash but Dr. Rich Novy has a more nuanced approach and, as a geneticist, he is well qualified to answer this question. He works with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. In his mind, the answer is pretty simple.

Is the potato already soft and mushy? If so, this is a sign that it needs to be disposed of. If the potato is still hard, that means that it can be salvaged. Take the time to store your produce properly if you are looking to steer clear of these types of tough decisions.

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