“I doubt there’s anybody in this area who hasn’t picked up a handful of snow and put it in their mouth,” said Dr. Keith Pulvermacher, Marshfield Clinic pediatrician.
Does this mean we are all doomed to sickness or stunted growth, as some urban legends suggest?
Most likely the answer is, no.
“You can probably find a strong statement either way on the dangers of eating snow, but there is no significant research proving harm,” he said. “In all reality, a bit of snow can’t hurt.”
Chemicals, but not enough to harm
Wisconsin Public Radio reported pesticides that were 30, 40 and 50 years old in high elevations of several U.S. national parks, but the levels were 100 times lower than what’s deemed safe for today’s drinking water.
“Sure, we don’t want to purposefully expose ourselves to pollutants, but the fact is these chemicals are already in the air we breathe,” Pulvermacher said. A couple handfuls of snow don’t have enough pollutants or chemicals to hurt an adult or child.
Other researchers suggest safely eating snow by:
- Opting for the fresh fall, or waiting an hour or two into the snowfall to allow the snow to “clean” the air.
- Avoiding heavily polluted areas – consider car exhaust or factory emissions.
- Never grabbing a bite from a plowed space.
Snow ice cream okay, with exceptions
Foodie blogs and sites like Pinterest abound with snow ice cream recipes. Just like recommended for snow, snow ice cream is okay in moderation, Pulvermacher said.
“Maybe it’s a tradition Grandma is sharing from her childhood or maybe it’s a new snow activity for the kids,” he said. “Tradition or novel, I advise not using the snow ice cream recipes with raw eggs.”
Here is a healthy snow ice cream recipe Pulvermacher approves:
- 8 to 12 cups clean snow
- 2/3 cup coconut milk
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
Recipe source: In Johnna’s Kitchen