Friday, April 17, 2009

Cyanide apples and a little girl...

Sounds like the ingredients of a fairy tale. But no, just an ordinary day in my life tutoring Tiffany and Paulo, ages 9 & 11. I'd ride with them to and from school (going home in between) and they'd always have a snack on the way home, usually fruit. Tiffany would eat the whole apple.
I mean the WHOLE apple, all but the stem.

I once saw a homeless guy do that, but Tiffany was far from homeless. She was a bright, friendly, positive girl from a home that gave her everything. Yet still she didn't waste even an apple seed, and had a heart that could hold all the world's poor children, and it did, as she wanted desperately to give a backpack of school supplies to a poor rural town's fellow 3rd graders but her mother said she could only give away her old things and she would not buy any new things to give. She cried after her mother and brother left the room.

I could write more about Tiffany and Paulo, and I just might, but I want to get back to the cyanide. It's in apricot pits, cherry pits, apple seeds, and some other nuts.

I was eating some apricots at my apartment in China with a friend over. He kept the pits aside and asked for something I didn't understand as he looked around. His eyes brightened when he found a hammer. He squatted down and proceeded to bang the pits with the hammer on my tile floor, missing most of the time, pits escaping the hammer head, shooting under furniture and into other rooms. He finally got one open and ate the nut inside, which looked like a fat almond.

The second one he broke open he gave to me, anxious to see my delight as he introduced me to the new exotic taste of... suntan lotion. My face cringed up and I wondered why on earth anyone would eat these things by choice. I assumed they must be healthy. Well, they are and they aren't....

They taste like bitter almond and contain a tiny bit of cyanide. This makes many people say we should not consume them, and the internet abounds with stories of people going to the hospital after swallowing cherry pits. Thing is, the cyanide doesn't really come out if you swallow the pits whole.
And two reasons for eating the seeds of apples at least (most people are still too afraid to eat apricot pits even though some cultures do it regularly):

1.) It's been said that the skin of the fruit contains the antidote for cyanide. So the idea is that if you eat the whole fruit, those few seeds will not hurt you, but if you eat a cupful of apple seeds crushed or chewed with no apple skin, you can die. Who the hell'd want to eat a cupful of crushed apple seeds anyway? They taste like miniature apricot pits, which taste like poison. Not something you want to add to your banana bread unless you're looking to off some- ... anyway...

2.) It's been discovered (don't ask me for my sources, I don't remember) that apparently cancer tumors are the only thing found in the human body that can bond with cyanide, counteracting it. So when they find each other in you, I guess they sort of... become friends and both get born again as mellow non-harmful-whatevers. No more cancer cell, no more cyanide molecule. They've fiddled with this as a potential cure for cancer but it's also been labeled as "quackery". Imagine if it's true that an apple a day can keep us out of Sloan and save billions of dollars in medication and doctor bills. No, really, IMAGINE it. Some cultures don't have cancer you know. They don't ever need to go to a doctor for it.

WHY am I bringing this up?
I looked it up after eating a WHOLE apple yesterday and wondering how much better it might be for me than leaving the core. I do tend toward the idea of eating as naturally as possible, so I think I'm going to eat the whole apple from now on, even though the middle tastes like slightly bitter almonds. Hey, if there's a chance it might go in there and smart-bomb a few cancer cells before they have a chance to reproduce, it's darn worth it to me. Too bad we can't know if it's working. But it's clear that 5 apple seeds can't hurt.

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