bird poop on tomatoes

homebody_2007August 17, 2009


I was unable to find an answer for this anywhere on the internt, so here goes:

We have many tomatoes this year, and after finding a beautiful tomato with bird poop on it, my husband and I had quite a disagreement.

I couldn't imagine eating this tomato, even after washing the poop off, and my husband thinks I'm just being finicky.

After polling some of my friends, I found some would simply wash the tomato and eat it, some would throw it away. It seesm to be about 50/50 at this point.

Is there a health risk in this matter, or is it simply un-appetizing?

thanks for any info or opinions!

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sunnyside1(z6/SW Mo.)

Homebody, birds only eat insects and seeds. They don't eat meat, which in my mind would make it gross. Besides, do you think the poop gets through the tomato peel? Why don't you just wash it with soap really well (use a paper towel to wash it with) then peel?? You can peel a tomato easily by using the top of a small knife blade (just turn it over) and pull the blade down from top to bottom of tomato. Do all around, all the way around. Then you peel it very easily.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 12:00PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Even though I've posted that I wouldn't eat a mouse-chewed-on tomato, I wouldn't have any qualms about washing bird poop off with a little soap, and then eating it. But if you are turned off by it, let your husband eat the pooped-on ones. :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 12:39PM
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No thanks, I prefer salt on mine.
badda bing badda boom. thank you, thank you very much.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 12:51PM
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You're being finicky. Poop is a good thing and it shouldn't be looked at with disgust. It's what makes your plants grow! If you're truly worried about a little poop then eating anything at all isn't right for you.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 1:16PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

The garden veggies grow outside in the dirt (enriched with compost and manure), with all the bugs and dust and whathaveyou.

I wash it before eating it and that solves the problem.

Unless you grow hydroponically indoors in a sealed "clean room" every veggie you eat, home grown or commercial, has probably been exposed to some kind of poop or another. That's why we wash things. :-)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 1:31PM
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I've eaten more tomatoes than I care to count that weren't washed at all. Just pick a really red one off the vine, give it a rub on the seat of your pants, and let the juice run down your chin. That's when they are at their very best, especially when the picker is hot and sweaty. (But it really did gross out my older sister!) Now I do wash those that have obvious signs of bird poop on them but I never bother to use soap or to peel them. I guess if I've lived this long, it can't be but so bad for you.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 2:06PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yep, you are being way too finicky. Bird poop is one of the least problems one encounters in gardening.

But if you'd rather eat the sparkling clean - to the eye at least - grocery produce then just ignore all the sprayed on chemicals and pesticides and skip gardening. ;)


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 2:11PM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

Surely you jest???

Poop is some of the best fertilizer on earth. Chicken poop, horse poop, sheep poop, cow poop etc., etc., etc.....

The poop is in almost all of the high end fertilizers so is already on the INSIDE of your tomatoes. A little bird poop on the outside?? I agree with digdirt!!


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 2:57PM
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Ouch, I'm getting blasted here! ;-)

I do eat tomatoes as I'm in the garden, just not the ones with obvious poop.

But, aren't there any problems with e.coli or bacteria? That's how some of the recalls of produce got started.

That being said, I was raised eating a lot of fresh produce (some with poop I'm sure), not to mention venison, rabbit, partridge etc, so I'm sure I've eaten a lot of nasties & it didn't kill me. . .thanks for participating in the poll!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 5:09PM
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Tomato skin is so tough that the acids in your digestive system cannot break it down.

But if you stil do not settle for washing, do this:
-- wash it as normal
--bring water to boil,violantly.
-- Drop tomato in there for 5-10 seconds.
-- take it out drop it in ice water.
Voilla! The skin, which is actually bad for you peels rigth off.Plus, any posibble germ/bacterium will be killed , while the tomato is cool and fresh.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 6:51PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

cyrus.......why do you think the skin is bad for you?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 7:08PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Don't worry about it Homebody. We all have little things that bother us. I have trouble seeing lots of bugs coming out of something (like mushrooms, broccoli) and then eating it. I just can't.
So 100 people here could tell you you are over-reacting, but if it bugs you, then it bugs you! Sometimes we can get over those things, and sometimes we can't. Just enjoy those tomatoes that are bird-poop-free. :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 7:11PM
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Rinse it off and dunk it in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, 1 part 3% peroxide to 10 parts water, and rinse again. I do this to my tomatoes anyway to keep them from molding.

Here is a link that might be useful: Using hydroden peroxide in the garden.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 10:02PM
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ditnc(7 NC)

homebody, I don't think you're getting blasted, it's just 'debate' - hopefully you are reassured by all the poop-eating tomato eaters here (I'm not saying that with malice!), but, if not, like someone else said, let your DH eat the poopy ones ;-)

I would eat a washed one which had bird poop on it previously, but I get squeamish when there is a hole in the tomato, even when there's nothing inside anymore, I wonder, WHAT WAS IN THERE BEFORE? We all have our opinions and preferences...just do what you want. (And you could always give it to someone you don't care for, washed of course, to give yourself a little laugh.)

I love the title of this thread and all the poop opinions. It gave me a laugh (not at you, just that all the poop talk is so lively).

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 10:45PM
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"cyrus.......why do you think the skin is bad for you?"


Tomato skin and seeds are bad, because:
1- you cannot digest them.
2- your system will keep pouring acid on them,...and you may end up with too much acid down there = INDIGESTION:

Italians use a lot of tomatoes. They skin and get the seeds out. They probably know somthing!!

Actually, tomato seeds are worse than skin.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 12:51AM
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This has been a fun thread--I didn't take anything personally ;-)

Interesting info on skin & seeds--I noticed the tomato skins on the compost pile stay there forever, seemingly.

Good suggestion with the peroxide--

After all this, I think I could wash & peel & eat that tomato now. . .

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 10:09AM
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Think about what happens to your tomatos (and other produce) when you aren't looking. You only see the bird dropping because it hasn't rained since the bird left you a little 'gift'.

Birds poop on them, various insects also poop on them. That same tomato may have been the love making hot spot for who knows how many critters. There may have even been a beetle orgy on it. Possibly a spider captured and consumed a meal on it (and then pooped). A caterpillar may have crawled over it and if one did, it almost certainly pooped as it crawled.

What I am saying is that you are only grossed out because you see the bird poo, I think if you had a camera on that tomato 24x7 over it's development and watched the film you might swear off eating anything ever again ;)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 10:52AM
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Send me all of your pooped on produce - my MIL's birthday is coming up soon.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 11:37AM
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I don't think tomato skins just sit in your stomach increasing acid production, wouldn't they just be more fiber like apple peels?

From webMD:

Tomato peels contribute a high concentration of the carotenoids found in tomatoes. The amount of carotenoids absorbed by human intestinal cells was much greater with tomato paste enriched with tomato peels compared to tomato paste without peels, according to a study from Marseille, France. The tomato skin also holds most of the flavonols (another family of phytochemicals that includes quercetin and kaempferol) as well. So to maximize the health propertiesof tomatoes, don't peel them if you can help it!

Here is a link that might be useful: CSU info - see sources of fiber

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 12:33PM
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I'm trying to recover from germaphobe land myself, I understand ;). I would peel it simply because its there and I knew about it. Otherwise, at my house it woulda been washed and not peeled cause I wouldn't know that the rain washed away the bird poo.

I do believe that eating the peel is beneficial though. This sounds gross I know, but it acts like a brush in your colon, sweeps away particles stuck to the sides...just like any roughage does. My son loves tomatoes and as a toddler had what looked like blood in his diapers. Turns out it was the peel from tomatoes because I didn't peel tomatoes. I do now, but because my family complains when they bite into a piece of peel. I was taught not to take it off for soups, sauces or anything. Now I only leave it on when we eat it fresh.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 7:29PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks for that info Greenbean. It just seemed like it had to be good for us!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 8:46PM
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catherinet, I thought so too. I'm trying to eat more veggies with their peels. I picked a cucumber, washed & sliced it last week. Turns out I have a dog who eats peeled cucumber slices but won't eat unpeeled ones, he just spit them onto the floor. When I cut off the peels for him, he ate them. Of course, my other dog would just eat the whole cucumber herself if I turned my back on her.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 12:32AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi greenbean,
I'd love to be able to eat the peels of my cucs, but they are soooo bitter. They started getting too tough to eat too, about 12 years ago. I thought it was from not getting enough water, but this year we've gotten plenty of water but many of the skins are still tough and bitter.
I would prefer to eat the skins of most all veggies, but the ones I never know where all they've been!
I think there's alot of nutrition in peels.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 9:33AM
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My questin is, if your digestive system cannot brake down tomato skin, how can you benefit from it?.
As I explained before, you don't peel tomato like a potato. You put them in boiling water few second, then in ice water.
Only the though thins skin will be peeled off.

Tomato itself has plenty of good stuff in it(vitamines, carataine,..) so what is the point trying to get just a little more which is not even available if the skin is not ground up before eating. Also from a visual stand point, tomato skin does not look very nice in your cooking(omlett, stew..).

But peeling carrots, apples, potatos, cucumbers is not necessary in my view. BECAUSE their skin is digestable and beneficial and if you peel them (like most people that I have seen) you are actually MUDERing them. I peel any of those that has surface damage/is soiled or in case of cucumbere , it is very old...

Finally, aside from facts and fictions, we all have ways and preferences in all aspects of life. So here too, I have no quarrel with anybody; Just expressing my view points.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 10:53AM
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Of course, we can all choose to peel or not to peel :-)

I think your original statement caused some concern because you said the skin is bad for you. I don't believe they are bad for you, but that doesn't mean you HAVE to eat them either. Truth is, I really don't eat tomatoes. I'll consume a small amount of tomato sauce on occasion but I'm not much of a tomato eater at all :-)

My unpeeled cuke wasn't too bad but next time I may peel off some stripes, sort of a happy medium of sorts, and see how well I like that. The peel wasn't bitter on that one but after eating peeled cukes for such a long time, it was a little strange to get used to. I agree about the grocery stuff... though I do try to eat the fruit peels (after a pretty thorough washing). The cukes are always so waxy, I'm not even tempted to try those unpeeled.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 1:06PM
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Cyrus_gardener My questin is, if your digestive system cannot brake down tomato skin, how can you benefit from it?.

Ever hear of "fiber" or "roughage"? That's the indigestible part of vegetables and your body needs it for good digestion.

Removing skins and seeds is necessary only if you want a very smooth sauce. The seeds are also kinda bitter, but it's a taste and texture issue, not a health issue.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 1:19PM
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