Don’t eat green Potatoes!

Argh! Once again, I find that a grocery store is stocking and selling green potatoes.  This is aggravating for two reasons:

1. Green potatoes are toxic. (They have their own listing in Medline, for FSM’s sake!) They aren’t likely to kill you, but they can make you feel pretty crappy.  There are even some mass poisonings on record from green potatoes.

2. Attempts to tell grocery staff that they are selling a potentially dangerous food will just make you frustrated. Either you get the stoner stock boy that just grunts at you and thinks you’re crazy, or you get the (significantly more annoying) organic veggie queen that will argue with you that the green makes the potatoes healthier.


Anyway. If you’re interested, potatoes, tomatoes, and a bunch of other plants are grouped together in the Solanaceae, a family of plants that are both yummy…and toxic.

Here’s some representative members, and links to info about their toxicity:

These toxins are sometimes useful, too, of course. Many human drugs are derived from this group of plants–atropine and scopalamine are two that have been known for some time.

Because the green tissues of these plants tend to be toxic, usually the insects that eat them are specially adapted to their plant hosts. Tobacco and Tomato Hornworms are two good examples of specialized herbivores that feast on Solanaceae.  They usually just poop out the toxins.

Thanks to RuTemple for the potato photo!