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5 Things You Didn't Know You Could Eat

There's a big difference between 'non-toxic' and 'edible.'
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Have you ever been sitting in class, watching the teacher write on the chalkboard, when you were overwhelmed by the sudden urge to grab the chalk out of his hands and eat it? Well there are plenty of people out there who eat chalk all the time, so don't knock it until you try it. For those interested in expanding their culinary boundaries outside of the culinary realm, we've rounded up seven non-food things that you didn't know you could eat.

We should begin by saying that the items mentioned here aren't things that you can idly munch on as you while away the hours. Aside from the fact that there's little to no nutritional value in any of them, eating them in large quantities won't kill you, but they will most likely give you quite a stomachache.

Elmer’s Glue
Even though Elmer’s old-fashioned white glue is made with a petroleum-based polymer (not milk, as many people think), it’s still non-toxic, meaning that your body doesn’t process it. Some folks have been known to eat entire bottles of the stuff in one sitting, but it’ll most likely still give you a stomachache. If the 3 year-old in you were to decide to take a taste, you’ll be fine. Keep in mind that despite the fact that Elmer’s is about the mildest glue out there, we’d strongly advise against eating anything stronger than that. Click Here to see More Things You Didn’t Know You Could EatPhoto Credit: Thinkstock
Chalk is basically pure calcium, and people with calcium deficiencies have been known to eat it by the box. You’ll be fine should you decide to sample a stick, although the texture is a bit chalky. Photo Credit: iStockphoto/ Thinkstock
Clay occurs naturally in nature, and there are plenty of different varieties of it. As long as it hasn’t been treated with chemicals (or harvested from a toxic plot of land), eating a little won’t hurt you. Keep in mind that there’s zero nutritional value in it, though, so replacing meals with it could get you into trouble down the road. Photo Credit: iStockphoto/ Thinkstock Click Here to see More Things You Didn’t Know You Could Eat
Should you remove your shoe and attempt to choke it down, it’s going to be a pretty rough experience for you and those around you. But if you’re starving and have access to boiling water, you technically could boil leather for several hours to tenderize it and get it down. It (more or less) worked for the Donner Party, and Native Americans were known to boil and eat tanned hides when times got tough. Nowadays, leather is treated with all sorts of nasty chemicals and conditioners, but if you’re resorting to eating a shoe, a little stomachache will be the least of your worries. Photo Credit: Fuse/ Thinkstock
Paper/ Wrappers
Paper is made out of cellulose, which is entirely indigestible, so if you decided to take a piece of paper out of the office printer and wolf it down, the only negative consequences will most likely be very bizarre looks from your co-workers, and most likely a chat with the HR department. Most paper is treated with harmful chemicals, especially colored paper, and the ink in the paper is poisonous in large quantities, so we wouldn’t advise eating your copy of Catcher in the Rye for lunch (eat a pastrami on rye instead). Candy wrappers can also be eaten if you really want to, but could cause intestinal blockages in very high quantities. Click Here to see More Things You Didn’t Know You Could EatPhoto Credit: Thinkstock

There's also a big difference between "non-toxic" and "edible." Non-toxic means that it can't really be digested even though it's more or less safe to eat; edible means that your body will process it as it would any normal food, and it won't cause you any harm. The items on our list are all non-toxic in that they won't kill you or cause you any lasting gastrointestinal damage. That said, we wouldn't advise actually eating any of this stuff, but you can.

As you go through life, looking at things like paper napkins and wondering if it would be worth it to grab a few to eat for dessert later, there are a couple things to keep in mind: One, does it contain any harmful chemicals? Two, is it made out of plastic, cellulose, or other non-digestible materials? (That's not necessarily a bad thing.) Three, is it sharp? And four, most importantly, is this a smart thing to do?

So if you should decide that eating some Elmer's glue is a prudent move, more power to you. Just don't eat the whole bottle.

-- Dan Myers, The Daily Meal

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