Salad is the perfect option when you’re looking for a delicious and nutritious meal! Not only is it healthy, but it also allows you to eat free of guilt, knowing that no defenseless creatures had to suffer during the dish’s preparation. Or so we thought…

A recent study at the University of Missouri has shown that the veggies we eat in our salad may actually be able to hear themselves being eaten. That’s right: there might be a reason to think twice the next time you bite into a fresh bunch of greens…

Agricultural researchers at the University of Missouri have made a discovery that may change the way we look at vegetables forever…


…more specifically: lettuce. In a recent study, scientists discovered that plants are able to detect specific noises, and this includes recognizing when they’re being eaten!


Not only can the plants hear what’s happening, but they will also attempt to defend themselves when they do.


They respond to acoustic energies, explains Heidi Appel, part of MU’s College of Agriculture. “We found that ‘feeding vibrations’ signal changes in the plant cells’ metabolism, creating more defensive chemicals that can repel attacks from caterpillars.”

living-salad-3Pixabay/Paul Heesel

For the experiment, researchers placed caterpillars on cabbage plants, recording the insects’ feeding vibrations as they munched away. Later, they played the sounds out loud to some of the plants, while playing absolute silence to others…


Researchers then placed caterpillars on the plants again: both the cabbage that had heard the vibrations, and the ones that had heard silence…


They discovered that the cabbage that had heard the vibrations before produced mustard oil upon hearing them again. This was certainly a defense mechanism, because caterpillars do not like these oils.


This may suggest that plants like cabbage and lettuce know when they are being eaten…a chilling thought, to be sure!


What a fascinating discovery! There is still more research that needs to be done before we can verify that these vibrations are a defense mechanism, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking about it the next time I eat my veggies!

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