This Is About Smut

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/this-is-about-smut.aspx

Well it had to happen. To all my readers, especially people who know me, it was sort of inevitable that eventually one of my blogs would be full of smut. In our relentless quest to drive traffic to the website it was only a matter of time before I resorted to the smut card.

I learned a new word recently — pejorative.  Pejoratives are words or grammatical forms, which denote a negative effect or which bring about the lowering in the meaning of word. In other words, you can use a word and sometimes it can have a positive meaning, but you can also use it in a negative or pejorative way. Sting was just interviewed on PBS and he said the term “aging rock star” doesn’t have to be pejorative (or negative). Although the thought of Mick Jagger parading on stage at the age of 67 is kind of bizarre, so I guess I’d use “aging rock star” in the pejorative sense. Come on, Mick, retire to the castle.

Anyway, back to smut. A Google search of “smut” turns up over 15 million results. Wikipedia provides 6 meanings of the word “smut” including former NASCAR driver Jimmy Means whose nickname is “Smut”.

Today I am discussing “smut” as I identified it in my book “The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook.” Smut is a fungus. A smut is a multicellular fungus that affects grasses, including cereal crops like corn. They attack the plant’s reproductive system and form a crazy looking “gall.” Galls looks like cancerous tumors growing on the corn. I remember the first time I saw one. I freaked out. They look like something out of David Cronenberg movie.

The galls eventually darken and burst and they release fungal spores, which infect nearby plants. In my early days of gardening, when I didn’t know any better, I would pop these galls out in the corn patch and spread billions of spores and wonder why I kept getting smut. Now I’m careful to removed the infect stock and take it and dump it in the bush. If you’re gardening in the city you should put these right in to your garbage. Don’t compost them.

That is unless you want to eat it. Turns out, unless Wikipedia is pulling my leg, people in Mexico like to eat smut. So apparently it’s not dangerous, it just looks gross. I think I’ll stick with my philosophy of “not eating black foods.” Years ago I read a recommendation that you shouldn’t eat anything that looks like cancer and many cancers are black. So eating “blackened swordfish” or anything blackened is a bad idea, as is anything seared black on a bar-b-que. As I discussed in my book “Thriving During Challenging Times” the fat dripping on the grill of a bar-b-que creates smoke with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which coat the meat including benzopyrene, one of the most carcinogenic compounds in cigarette smoke. This is why your local health unit will tell you to wrap your meat in aluminum foil when you bar-b-que it. Yea, right, that’s where all the yummy taste comes from. Well turns out there are some nasties with that taste.

Anyway, I stay away from bar-b-qued meats and I’m not about to start eating corn smut. I shall dispose of it safely away from the garden. Sorry to disappoint those who wanted a smutty blog using smut in the pejorative sense. This is will be my last blog about smut. I promise.

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