Updated 13 January 2014

Can humans eat grass?

A Garankuwa pastor recommended eating grass to his followers. Can humans digest grass at all?

A pastor north of Pretoria told his Garankuwa congregation to eat grass as it would bring them closer to God.

It was claimed that he performed miracles, which is why some members of his congregation were presumably prepared to follow his instructions. Apparently they were later photographed while vomiting.

Can people eat grass?
Is it dangerous for people to eat grass, or can it be used as a foodstuff in emergencies?

Grass is not toxic, and it is edible, but that doesn’t mean that it is suitable for the human digestive system. In other words it won’t kill you, but it isn’t advisable to snack on it.

Human stomachs cannot digest hard raw leaves and grass easily, but cows can.certainly eat grass. Unlike humans, cows are ruminants and have four stomach chambers enabling them to digest grass.

Humans aren’t the only creatures who have difficulty digesting grass – dogs sometimes eat grass when they are feeling nauseous. It helps them to vomit as they are unable to digest this substance.

Grass also contains a lot of silica, which is abrasive to human teeth. Grazing animals have teeth that can re-coat their own surfaces continually, so the silica does not affect them.

Because humans are unable to digest grass, they can get almost no nutrition from it. So eating it is pointless. Also, it is likely to cause an upset stomach, which could lead to diarrhoea and vomiting, causing dehydration. This is why it is not recommended that someone who is caught in the wilderness eat grass in order to survive.


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