Your best friend offers $3000 in gold coins if you can survive one month (30 days) by eating only one vegetable. During the one month period, you will be quarantined in your own home, and any edible items will be removed from your refrigerator/secret pantry/under your bed. You will have unlimited access to water and unlimited access to any one vegetable of your choice. You will have to eat the vegetable raw, without any preparation (boiling/frying/sauteing) and without any condiments. What vegetable should you choose to survive the 30 days?

I was thinking potatoes, as they are high in almost all vitamins and nutrients that are necessary for a human to function properly. Are there any other strong contenders?


closed as off-topic by Frostfyre, JDługosz, Hohmannfan, Gianluca, HDE 226868 Mar 6 '16 at 21:54

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    $\begingroup$ How do you relate this to worldbuilding? $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Mar 6 '16 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ Almost any vegetable will do. It's hard to starve to death in 30 days if you are a well-nourished adult not subjected to much physical exercise. See scientificamerican.com/article/how-long-can-a-person-sur for a better discussion. Having enough water is much more important on this time scale. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Mar 6 '16 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ How do you define "vegetable"? $\endgroup$ – sumelic Mar 6 '16 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ Potatoes are Deadly Nightshade family most of which are poisonous in some way. I wouldn't eat them raw in any significant quantity. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Mar 6 '16 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ What you have is an element of plot, not a piece of a world. A worldbuilding question would have sought to create a naturally-occurring food item that met your requirements, but you're simply looking for something that already exists on Earth. So it may just be off-topic, rather than storybuilding... $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Mar 6 '16 at 20:27

Non-answer: For $100/day, I wouldn't subject myself to such a dangerous challenge. The body is really dependent on having the right set of nutrients to function, and it becomes very unhappy when you take them away.

Answer: Soy or Quinoa. A particularly difficult class of nutrients you need are amino acids. There are nine amino acids you must eat because your body cannot produce them: leucine, isoleucine, lysine, tryptophan, histidine, phenylalanine, valine, methionine and threonine. Almost all vegetables are incomplete proteins, meaning they are missing one or more. Starchy vegetables, such as the potato, lack lysine. Remember lysine? It was the thing the builders of Jurassic Park kept as a last line of defense to keep the dinosaurs under control. Yeah, that lysine.

Not all vegetables are incomplete proteins. Soy and Quinoa are complete proteins. Now mind you I did not look at their other nutrient loads, but if you don't have your amino acids, bad things happened, so looking for complete proteins was a good start.

Also worth checking: can each food be eaten raw? Many vegetables are not edible until they are prepared. Potatoes and many grains cannot be eaten raw, because the body cannot process them until the cooking process denatures undesirable compounds for us. Potatoes can actually be toxic if eaten raw, and you don't get the carbohydrate energy from them because the human body has a hard time with unprocessed carbohydrates.

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    $\begingroup$ thank you. I was going to bring up the amino acid problem too. Luckily you provided that answer :) Over the span of 30 days, as long as you're getting the calories, a healthy adult will be OK with your nutritionally deficiencies. $\endgroup$ – Jim2B Mar 6 '16 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ Soy beans are not very safe to eat raw. And it would definitely be very unpleasant. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw Apr 13 '16 at 8:34

Carrots would be my first choice and peas would be the next.

Carrots are high in vitamin and have enough sugar content in them to easily keep you going for a month. For an overkill, you can also make carrot juice if/when you are not feeling like eating anything.

The advantage of choosing these over other vegetables is the eating raw condition. You have probably already eaten them raw in salads. You cannot eat and then digest a lot of vegetables in raw form, regardless of how nutritional they are. Raw potatoes are going to make you feel nauseatic (unless of course you are a military spec ops member or have undergone half a dozen survival courses).

p.s. some sites quote Beet Green as one of the best vegetables (nutritionally) on the planet. I skipped the top entry on most sites about the nutritional value of vegetables (Watercress) because I don't know if everybody can bear with eating that thing raw for a whole month and not throw up or something.

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    $\begingroup$ Carrots are a horrible choice. One carrot provides the maximum recommend daily intake of vitamin A. To get enough calories is typically 80 carrots. Can you say "overdose"?? $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Mar 7 '16 at 0:02
  • $\begingroup$ The body doesn't always absorb the stuff it already has in excess. Plus, we have liver and kidneys etc to keep the vitamins balance smooth. Juice of 20 carrots in the morning and evening while eating 20 carrots at lunch should keep you going. A carrot glass of carrot juice usually takes 3-4 carrots to prepare. And drinking 4-5 glasses of such juice daily has never been detrimental to my health. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Mar 7 '16 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ You certainly can overdose on Vitamin A: mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-a/safety/hrb-20060201 $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Mar 7 '16 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but that is applicable to those who take unnatural, concentrated supplements. I personally have an experience of taking several glasses of carrot juice for several weeks without any side effect at all. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Mar 8 '16 at 5:36
  • $\begingroup$ "Unnatural" has nothing to do with it. A builds up, eventually it will cause a problem. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Mar 9 '16 at 1:54

Ever try to eat a raw potato, or even an undercooked one? I don't know whether they're poisonous, but they sure aren't tasty.

Personally, I'd choose peas, as they are IMHO best eaten raw. Carrots would be a close second. Most others either need cooking (beans, squash, etc), don't have enough nutritional value (e.g. lettuce), or can upset the digestion if eaten in large quantities (asparagus, cucumbers).

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    $\begingroup$ I actually like raw potato, but I couldn't possible eat a meal of it. Also, it has to be sliced thin. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Mar 20 '16 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ I've eaten a chunk of raw potato many a time... I especially like the green ones ;) $\endgroup$ – NPSF3000 Jun 4 '16 at 0:00

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