“I swear my pants weren’t this tight earlier today.” We’ve all said it at one time or another. That’s because bloating is one of the most common — and obvious — stomach complaints around, says David T. Rubin, M.D., fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology and chief of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at The University of Chicago Medicine. Many of his patients even snap “bloating selfies” to show how much their waistlines fluctuate throughout the day. (We won’t blame you if you keep those off Facebook.)
Did a clam just excrete some brown particles in your hand? The good news is that it might not be poop. The bad news is that it might be worse than poop. The best news is that stuff that’s “worse than poop” can save an ecosystem.
Clams, tube worms, and other mollusks are filter feeders, which means that anything that floats close enough to them gets sucked into their mouths. Given the state of the ocean, there are a lot of horrible things floating by them.
Fortunately for them, this is not a new phenomenon. Clams live in sand. If they didn’t have a way of filtering out the tiny particles they took in, they would essentially sand their insides down to nothing. They have long been dealing with their indiscriminate eating habits by producing something known as “pseudofeces,” or, in laypeople’s terms, fake poop.
The snag with this is that, with ocean acidification, molluscs like clams are having increasing difficulty building shells. Rather than encouraging clams, perhaps it’s time we stopped polluting instead? Then we could let the clams take care of themselves.
The Maryland Renaissance Festival, aka The World Series of Cleavage, features a lot of weird things (its clientele typically chief among them), but it’s possible that nothing there is more bizarre than the food. Last weekend, I set out to eat these experiments in gastronomic mad science, because I am just that committed to comedy/taking vengeance against my digestive tract.