Should I eat this strawberry? 

I hate when food goes to waste. Just as a philosophical point; it seems so much effort was made to bring it to my door; and for one reason or another – my family can not consume it. So when I see my strawberry with a small white patch growing, it’s worth asking a question – should I eat that? 


With foldscope in background, it was time to investigate. I quickly made two slides; one from a seemingly “bad” looking white patch and another from a “good looking yummy” area. Simple slides with a cover slips and tape on the edge so cover slip does not get caught in the foldscope while sliding. 


You might be wondering, why go through the pain. Just throw it out – no, no, no,no.. Intrigued by the paradox of eat or not eat; I did some reading as well. This is a shocking fact.. 

“Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.”

“If global food wastage was a country, it would be the third largest CO2 emitter; only after China and US”

– www.fao.org

So with this fact in light, let’s look at the slides to see what’s infecting my yummy strawberry. It’s from a nice organic farm, and is sooo yummy. I will use my standard foldscope with light module, and use my iPhone to collect some pictures. 

  1. The white patch (seemingly a fungal infection): here are a few pictures. To my delight, I can clearly see the fungal hyphae all inside the strawberry. Surprisingly, the cellular structure is almost all gone and all we have left is the vast network of fungal hyphen deep inside the strawberry. 
  2. Now for the healthy (yummy) part. What a pleasant surprise; just incredibly beautiful cells, trichomes emerging from the cells, crystal clear cellular architecture with the “deep red” pigment which make my strawberry red to begin with. It looks even more “yummy” at microscopic scale.

So, now you see a real difference between the part that’s infected and part that’s not. Based on this; I just did the obvious thing – and cut out the region that is infected. And the rest of the strawberry is now sitting inside my stomach. 

Note: if anyone knows how to label fungal hyphe with a simple dye; I would love to image this again to illuminate the entire fungal network inside the berry. 

Keep exploring. 

Cheers 

Manu 

One Comment Add yours

  1. laksiyer says:

    @Manu. The thing about boxed strawberries is that on an average I am throwing out 15% or so of them.. Lactophenol cotton blue is a standard fungal stain, but hard to get for an aamateur, perhaps you might be able to get it. Straight Lactic acid is great. Here’s a website from a f foldscope contributor , an expert on fungi, about fungal stains.
    http://sustainablemycology.blogspot.com/2013/04/fungal-mounting-fluid-stain-recipes.html

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