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Mold is in the Air

Have you ever seen mold growing on food that is old and stale? Have you ever wondered how the mold got there? The mold comes from the air.

What is mold

Mold is a type of fungus. The tiny cells of mold are called spores. Mold spores live in the air all the time—there are millions of them practically everywhere.

But when the mold spores land on a host, they grow and thrive by feeding off the food they land on. Mold spores feed themselves by producing chemicals that break the composition of the food down so the spores can grow while the food rots away.

Is mold bad or dangerous

This is a difficult question to answer because it has more than one answer and because there are hundreds of different types of mold. Generally speaking, however

It is not safe to eat mold.

Mold growing on food is unsafe to eat. Think about it…if it is breaking down food to a state of being rotten, what possible benefit could there be in eating it?

The exception to this is on SOME cheeses. The flavor of some hard cheeses is better once the outer layer has mold on it. The mold is then cut away before eating the cheese.

It is not safe to breathe mold.

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Facts for Kids video

While not all mold is toxic, there are some types of mold (especially black mold) that is very dangerous to breathe.

People with allergies or sensitivities to mold can also become sick when breathing other types of mold.

Even mold is useful

There is a purpose in nature for everything—even mold. When mold rots food, the food decomposes and returns to the soil; giving the soil nutrients (vitamins) it needs to grow even more food.

Watch it grow

Now that you know what mold is and what it does, let’s watch some grow.

Here is what you need:

  • 4 clear zip-close bags (sandwich-sized
  • Water
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 piece of fruit (strawberry, lemon, banana, or apple
  • 1 piece of cheese
  • 1 cheese puff
  • Water

Here is what you do:

  • Place 1 food item in each bag
  • Sprinkle water on each item and seal the bag WELL
  • Place the bags on a shelf out of the sun and at room temperature
  • Leave the bags undisturbed for 2 days before checking them
  • Do any of the food items have white, blue/green, or gray fuzz on them
  • Leave the bags for another 2 days
  • What has happened—do all food items have mold
  • Check the bags every 2 days until the 10th day
  • What has happened
  • On the 10th day throw the bags away WITHOUT opening them

Here is what happened:

The moisture in the bags and the warmth of being at room temperature (or warmer) are the perfect conditions for growing mold.

While there are all sorts of mold spores in the air that landed on the food, you probably noticed that the mold looked different on each food item. That is because of different kinds of mold spores like some foods better than others.

There was one food item that never had mold on it—the cheese puff. Do you know why?

Foods with lots of preservatives and chemicals in them do not usually mold. They don’t mold because the preservatives in the food kill the mold spores before they can start growing.

Try this

The results of this experiment will be somewhat different if you vary the temperatures of the places you put the bags. Put some at room temperature, some in a warm, dark place (like a closet), some in the refrigerator, and some in a sunny window sill.