Mission of the Month: Food: What doesn't kill you will make you stronger

Once food is ripe and harvested, it begins to decay. Food remains fresh and good for only a short period of time unless processed. Why? There are four reasons why!

  • Enzymes: A protein, enzymes help break down the food when you eat it, but it starts this process before you eat it as well. It starts the spoliage process. High heat stops enzymes permanently, freezing stops them temporarily.
  • Bacteria: A micro-organism that comes from our environment (the soil, dishes, our hands), they are poisonous. Examples include Staphylococcus, Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. They can be destroyed with extreme heat, or slowed with freezing, high acid, sugar, or salt conditions (pickling, making jam).
  • Yeast: Another micro-organism but not as deadly. They help by fermenting sugar to make cider and beer. They can be destroyed with extreme heat or slowed with freezing.
  • Fungi: Tiny spores in the air, they land on food and form mold. You can see when they spoil your food! Freezing and pickling will stop fungi from growing, but the easiest protection is to cover your food.

Now that you know why, you can know more!

Here are activities and resources to enable you to keep food safe and to better understand the issues of food safety and health today.

Spoiling for a Food Fight

Pasteurization

The Big Change: Altering Food

What's in Your Bottle? The BPA Issue

Our Culture, Our Food

Author(s), Presenter(s): 
Trudy Dunham and Jay Staker
Year published or updated: 
2012