# Without me, you cannot survive

I am always moving,
but I never know where I am going.
I provide delicious flavor to food.
I can be read on many restaurant menus.
However, I am toxic.
I kill thousands of people every year,
However, it is difficult to survive in the wild without me.

Who or what am I?

Answer will only be accepted if it matches all of the conditions.

UPDATE - A new line was added (the 4th one). 3rd line was revised to be more literal.

UPDATE - updated 6th line to specify "people", to eliminate vagueness.
UPDATE - revised 7th line to be more literal and less vague, so I am sure someone will guess it now.

HINT:

All lines are completely literal now.

• Why did you see it necessary to change your criteria? Feb 22, 2015 at 2:38
• I didn't change the criteria, I just made the line less vague by making it more literal to avoid confusion. It is a still delicious and people still love to eat me. Feb 22, 2015 at 2:45
• I am really tempted to award jamesdlin with the accepted answer, even though it is not the answer the riddle was written for. Simply because it meets all the criteria very cleverly. Feb 22, 2015 at 11:19
• @user3453281 I revised a couple of lines to make it easier, and less vague. "the correct answer should not be arbitrarily chosen by the original poster."? wtf? There is an answer which best fits the riddle, since I wrote it, I should know. Wow, there will always be haters, eh? Why do people assume that because there are a lot of wrong guesses, that there must be something wrong with the riddle? Feb 24, 2015 at 3:27
• Anyone voting to close this, is completely ignoring my recent revisions to eliminate vagueness and the fact that the published answers do not meet the conditions. This riddle is definitely solvable, for some reason, no one has guessed it yet. Feb 24, 2015 at 9:51

One more attempt. I think you are:

SMOKE

I am always moving, but I never know where I am going.

smoke is always moving with air currents

I provide delicious flavor to food. I can be read on many restaurant menus.

people enjoy smoked meats, smoked fish, smoked cheeses

However, I am toxic. I kill thousands of people every year,

cigarette smoke kills, industrial smoke as a pollutant causes respiratory problems and the number one cause of death in structure fires is the smoke (people asphyxiating)

However, it is difficult to survive in the wild without me.

in the wild, fire is important for warmth and cooking. With fire, there is smoke. Smoke can also be used as a signal from a person that is lost.

• I agree with this answer. I'd also mention that people who are lost in the wild may use smoke signals to alert people that they need rescuing. Feb 24, 2015 at 8:15
• Congrats, finally someone posts the correct answer! +1 I only read your answer now, but I just noticed it was posted 16 hours ago. Feb 25, 2015 at 0:09
• Brilliant question and answer! :-D Feb 25, 2015 at 1:25
• @Len also notable is that you have the two most highly voted answers, congrats! Feb 25, 2015 at 8:20
• @Len, depends if the answer is water. If it takes you 3 days to find water, you could be dead by then ;-) Feb 27, 2015 at 2:02

I think you are:

Bacteria although different types of bacteria match different clues

I am always moving, but I never know where I am going.

bacteria can move on their own as well as being moved or transmitted by the host

Being delicious, people love to eat me.

yogurts and cheeses are examples of bacteria-containing foods that people enjoy

However, I am a poison. I kill thousands every year,

some bacteria (salmonella, e.coli) cause food poisoning which can result in death

but without me, you cannot survive.

some bacteria (gut microorganisms) are a necessary component of our digestive system

• Wow, great alternative answer, I am impressed. I wonder if thousands of people die from bacteria every year. Also, I wonder if bacteria never know where they are going. I have to research that. Feb 21, 2015 at 8:20
• The one nitpick I have with your answer is that bacteria alone is not delicious, and there is a better answer. For example, regarding the correct answer, the word actually appears on the menu at many restaurants. Feb 21, 2015 at 8:32
• Yes, there are many thousands of bacteria related deaths in the US alone every year. However, bacteria can tell which way to travel according to this url: thenakedscientists.com/HTML/questions/question/1559 Feb 21, 2015 at 8:35
• So bacteria can know where they are going which invalidates one of the conditions. Feb 21, 2015 at 8:36
• But I give you +1 for such a great answer! Feb 21, 2015 at 8:37

I'm going to go with:

Sperm

I am always moving,

Always moving until it dies

but I never know where I am going.

It just goes in the direction it is shot

Being delicious, people love to eat me.

Especially if owner eats pineappples/citrus fruit

However, I am a poison. I kill thousands every year,

STD infected

but without me, you cannot survive.

Human life wouldn't exist without it.

sugar

I am always moving, but I never know where I am going.

Sugar moves in plants (sap). It also circulates in our bodies, and being inanimate it does not know where it is going.

Being delicious, people love to eat me.

We love our sweets.

However, I am a poison. I kill thousands every year,

Sugar contributes to being overweight, which causes health issues and can kill.

but without me, you cannot survive.

Food is broken down into simple sugars which we need to nourish cells.

antifreeze Circulates in your car. It tastes sweet and because of this causes accidental poisoning in humans and pets. Last part is a stretch... some of us cannot survive without our cars.

• Creative answer, but poison is your weak link on this one, I think. If sugar is poison, then all fruit is poisonous. Feb 21, 2015 at 3:41
• @MichaelRize All things are poisonous at a specific amount, be it sugar, water, oxygen, etc. Feb 21, 2015 at 14:13
• @hexafraction That's true, but the intended answer is definitely more toxic than those you listed. Feb 21, 2015 at 14:23

You are

salt.

I am always moving,

Typically dissolved in solution, salt moves. When in the body, salt (or more precisely, the sodium extracted from the salt during digestion) is primarily carried in the blood, where it's continually circulated by the heart.

but I never know where I am going.

Salt does not move of its own accord; it only travels with the solution in which it is suspended.

Being delicious, people love to eat me.

Do I really need to explain this one? :)

I am on many restaurant menus.

Many restaurants' menus advertise salt levels on each dish they serve.

However, I am toxic.

Salt is toxic to many pathogens -- as a result, salt has been used as a food preservative for thousands of years.

I kill thousands every year,

High salt intake is estimated to cause more than two million deaths per year.

but without me, you cannot survive.

Sodium is required for nerves and muscles to function properly. If you don't have enough salt, you suffer from hyponatremia, and may experience dizziness, muscle cramps, strokes, and/or death. Three to five million people are diagnosed with hyponatremia every year.

• Creative answer, but I don't think it meets the "I am always moving" criteria, as simple table salt does not move. Feb 22, 2015 at 2:31
• For most of the same reasons, could it be 'sea salt'? (Always moving as it is in the ocean) Feb 23, 2015 at 10:36

I'm going to guess

fire

I am always moving,

If it's not moving, it's not fire, it can be controlled, contained but even a candle's flame moves.

but I never know where I am going.

Fire moves at the whim of every draft in the room

I provide delicious flavor to food.

Char/Grill Marks etc, all come from fire

I can be read on many restaurant menus.

Fire-grilled ______

However, I am toxic.

Depending on whats being burned this can be literal, as fire does produce a large number of toxic hydrocarbons, or it can also refer to the fact that the afformentioned grill marks and such are generally considered a carcinogen.

I kill thousands every year,

Maybe even more

but without me, you cannot survive.

It provides heat and safety to our food. This is one of the weaker claims I admit, if you're prepared to live entirely off raw vegitables/fruit and in an appropriate climate.

• Very good guess, but there is a better answer... +1 to you Feb 22, 2015 at 5:50

Perhaps it is:

Time

I am always moving,

Time is always progressing forward.

but I never know where I am going.

The future is unpredictable.

I provide delicious flavor to food.

Thyme is used to season food. Time also ages cheeses and wines, and meats cannot marinate without time. Time is an important ingredient to all cooking.

I can be read on many restaurant menus.

Many restaurant menus (particularly take-out menus) might list business hours.

However, I am toxic.

Time eventually ravages everything. Things decay and get decrepit.

I kill thousands every year,

People die of old age.

but without me, you cannot survive.

Organisms need time to eat and grow and live. People who are about to die are "out of time".

• Wow, I am impressed how your answer meets all the criteria very well. It is not the intended answer, but I am very tempted to reward you, regardless. Very clever! Feb 22, 2015 at 11:16
• The only area it may be a bit weak on, is the restaurant menu. They mention business hours, not specifically "Time", unless you can find some menus to back up your claim. Feb 22, 2015 at 11:25
• I've seen a few restaurants that have a "time to prepare" column in their menus.
– dmg
Feb 24, 2015 at 15:05

I think you are

Water

I am always moving,but I never know where I am going.

The water cycle is a continuous loop (I'm not counting the solid state of H2O)

I provide delicious flavor to food.

Water is a major component of saliva, without which we wouldn't taste anything

I can be read on many restaurant menus.

Most restaurants list water as a beverage option

However, I am toxic.

Water intoxication comes from drinking too much and messing with your electrolyte balance

I kill thousands of people every year.

Hurricanes / monsoons, tsunamis, drowning, take your pick.

However, it is difficult to survive in the wild without me.

You can only last about 3 days without fresh water.

• You missed the last line, the title. Feb 24, 2015 at 15:51

Okay, time to go way out in left field.

You are:

Celebrity chef and television host, Gordon Ramsey

I am always moving

As part of his television career, he is always moving from town to town, both for publicity and for shooting Kitchen Nightmares.

but I never know where I am going.

He has an executive producer for that, after all.

I provide delicious flavor to food.

Being a chef, this is one of his primary jobs.

I can be read on many restaurant menus.

At a minimum, on the menus of the restaurants that he owns.

However, I am toxic.

As anyone who has watched the first half of an episode of Kitchen Nightmares will attest.

I kill thousands every year,

Typically bacteria, insects, and sometimes small rodents, as anyone who has watched the second half of an episode of Kitchen Nightmares will attest.

but without me, you cannot survive.

At least, not if you're on his Hell's Kitchen reality show!

• LOL! I love it. Feb 24, 2015 at 2:04
• @TrevorPowell Tihs answer made me join puzzling and StackExchange as a whole. Best answer ever! Jun 11, 2015 at 11:34
• Hahah! $(+1)$ ${}$ Aug 21, 2018 at 0:32

I'm gonna go with

Air

I am always moving, but I never know where I am going.

Air moves. It dosen't move to a specific destination.

Being delicious, people love to eat me.

Air carries the smell of (delicious) food and people will certainly get attracted to it. And they eat air (?)

However, I am a poison. I kill thousands every year,

Air might carry poisonous gases and it kills many people

but without me, you cannot survive.

Without Air , no living being can survive.

• Nice try, but people don't eat air. Feb 21, 2015 at 11:43
• They swallow air Feb 21, 2015 at 11:54

My guess is

Glutamate

I am always moving,

Glutamate is a the main neuro-transmitter used in the brain, as such it is constantly on the move as synapses release this agent.

but I never know where I am going.

Of course it doesn't, it is just an amino acid and as such has no control of where it is heading

I provide delicious flavor to food.

Umami is the fifth taste sense, which literally translates to 'delicious taste'. Umami in food is detected through glutamate receptors.

I can be read on many restaurant menus.

There are many Umami rich foods, with MSG as probably the one most people are familiar with (mono-sodium glutamate), but it can also be found in fish, shellfish, cured meats, and mushrooms.

However, I am toxic.

There is split opinion on whether MSG is toxic, but some researchers claim that it is. It is ... http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/msg-proven-highly-toxic-1-dose-causes-headache-healthy-subjects It isn't ... http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-10-03/science-suggests-msg-really-isnt-bad-your-health-after-all

I kill thousands of people every year,

If you follow the path that it IS toxic, then those studies will link it to the deaths of thousands of people every year.

However, it is difficult to survive in the wild without me.

Glutamate is an essential ingredient for us to function as humans.

I'm guessing it's:

Money

Why?

I am always moving,


Money is always in circulation

but I never know where I am going.


Money does not "know" where it is going. Or may be a more original way to state that money is usually wasted on stupid things.

I provide delicious flavor to food.


Back in the days spice were really expensive. Spice have even been used as a currency. Even today there are some exotic spices that cost a lot.

I can be read on many restaurant menus.


There is a price for each dish.

However, I am toxic.


Money is the root of all evil.

I kill thousands of people every year,


Many people die over money or because they lack money.

However, it is difficult to survive in the wild without me.


I interpret "in the wild" as "when living on your own". When you are a kid, you don't need money, but once you "leave the nest" you need money to survive.

And let's not forget the title:

Without me, you cannot survive


An unfortunate fact, but without money living in modern-day society is pretty much impossible.

• The word "money" does not appear on restaurant menus. "The wild" implies wilderness. Money is almost useless in the wilderness. Feb 24, 2015 at 9:48

Blood

constantly flows and doesn't "know" its direction. It powers all the sensory organs to provide taste. Any time it's on a menu, it's always "red". It's toxic to consume raw and kills as

leukaemia.

• Blood moves inside a living creature, but outside, in a blood bag, for example, it is no longer moving. Therefore, it does not meet the "always moving" criteria. Also, blood is not inherently toxic, it is what blood can contain that is toxic "tainted blood" for example. Finally, please use spoiler tags on your answers. Feb 22, 2015 at 2:13
• Whoops. Newbie on the loose. Apologies for not following the protocol.
– Tim
Feb 22, 2015 at 12:12

is it

appetite?

I am always moving, but I never know where I am going.

people lose or gain appetite depending on all kinds of factor

I provide delicious flavor to food.

the more appetite someone has, the more they will enjoy food

I can be read on many restaurant menus.

I guess the word "appetizer" appears on menus

However, I am toxic.

I kill thousands every year,

obesity kills

but without me, you cannot survive.

hunger is a survival instinct that we need to survive.

Now that I have seen the correct answer, I would argue that this fits the hints more accurately:

The sun

I am always moving, but I never know where I am going.

The sun is always moving away from the center of the universe, but it does not know were it is going. It is also constantly moving when observed from the surface of the earth.

I provide delicious flavor to food.

A lot of delicious flavor of food is done with sun drying and photosynthesis creates sugar which is arguably delicious.

I can be read on many restaurant menus.

In dishes and with sunflower and sun dried tomatoes for instance.

However, I am toxic. I kill thousands of people every year,

Sunburn is toxic and can evolve into skin cancer. Being directly in the sun for too long can be deadly.

However, it is difficult to survive in the wild without me.

With no sunlight there is less vegetation and nutrition and the sun can be used to navigate.

Reasoning why this is more accurate:

Smoke is technically not moving when there is no convection. Smoke is a term and different smoke is used in the different hints, while the sun is literally just one thing in all of the hints.

Is 'alcohol' anywhere close to an answer?

Alcohol is served in almost any restaurant, is a highly volatile compound (it evaporates and turns to gas very easily), is certainly delicious, and many people abuse it to the point of death (as digesting alcohol produces toxins in the body).

The only weakness in this guess is that alcohol is not 'vital' for life in that we don't need it like we do nutrition (though life would be much more boring without it!).

• Also it is not eaten, and pure alcohol is not delicious. Also it is not always moving. but nice try Feb 21, 2015 at 22:51
• Also, please use spoiler tags, to hide your answer, thanks. Feb 22, 2015 at 2:14

I think you are:

Food

I am always moving, but I never know where I am going.

Food is caught and is sent all over the world for export. The food is sent to restaurants to be served. Most of the time, the food is dead so it has no idea where it is. Some that are alive to be used for sushi for example, don't recognize the place and will not know where it is

Being delicious, people love to eat me.

All types of food are eaten for multiple reasons. For those who eat for pleasure, it because they like to eat the food. For example, most Texans love BBQ ribs.

I appear on many restaurant menus.

Other than drinks that can only be drank, not eaten, there is food. What else is there on the menu that can be consumed?

However, I am toxic.

Improperly prepared food will contain harmful bacteria and toxins that will eventually kill you. Puffer fish, for example, are extremely poisonous. It can only be prepared by trained professionals and experts. People whose hands are infected will make the food toxic, but probably not enough to feel any minor side effects.

I kill thousands every year

Eating too much food and eating toxic and dirty food kill thousands of people around the world. This should include poisoned food infected on purpose by humans or on accident. Good thing this doesn't happen in only one country...

but without me, you cannot survive.

You can't survive without any food. You will die of hunger. But first you will go insane and want to eat anything such as meat and I leave it there before someone vomits.

• "I provide delicious flavor to food". I'm not sure you can answer with food if it's something that gives flavor to food. Feb 22, 2015 at 3:51
• I answered the question before that line was updated Feb 22, 2015 at 13:59

I have no choice but to go with this (probably not what you had in mind) answer:

Food

I am always moving, but I never know where I am going.

Food is always moving, being transported from one place to another, and being an object with no cognizance, it wouldn't know where it was going anyway.

Being delicious, people love to eat me.

It's food, people love to eat food.

I am on many restaurant menus.

Self-explanatory - most restaurants serve food.

However, I am toxic. I kill thousands every year,

Food can also be toxic. Puffer fish, mushrooms, apples, cherries, etc.

but without me, you cannot survive.

Food is vital to life. You need the nutrients to survive, and your body depends on foods to break down and turn into energy.

I satisfied all conditions - do I win the gold star? Haha.

• Good try, but food is not always moving. If food was moving on my plate, I would not eat it, lol. Feb 22, 2015 at 1:29

Liver

I am always moving, but I never know where I am going.

The liver moves with respiration (breathing). "The liver moves with respiration, and its position varies with the diaphragm and with body type." http://www.dartmouth.edu/~humananatomy/part_5/chapter_28.html

Being delicious, people love to eat me. I am on many restaurant menus.

It is a normal dish, some love it, although not all. As a kid I loved it, but then I took anatomy and found out how toxic it is.

However, I am toxic.

The liver removes toxins from our body and stores them (like DDT)

I kill thousands every year,

Liver is high in Vitamin A. Certain animals are especially high - polar Bear, walrus. (Wikepedia - Hypervitaminosis A) A diet too high in Vitamin A can cause death.

but without me, you cannot survive.

Cannot survive without a liver because it cleans the blood stream.

I think you are:

Seawater (or parts thereof)

I am always moving:

Tides

but I never know where I am going.

Seawater doesn't have the ability to figure this out.

I provide delicious flavor to food.

Salt from Seawater is used to flavour many things

I can be read on many restaurant menus.

Either salt levels or with things like http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lays-Natural-Thick-Chips-8-5oz/dp/B004MTRHN8

However, I am toxic. I kill thousands every year.

You can drown in Seawater or too much salt is deadly

but without me, you cannot survive

You need some salt and water to live

• The word "seawater" does not appear on restaurant menus. Feb 24, 2015 at 3:15