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You Do Have Bugs In Your Kitchen, Don’t You?

October 3, 2011

I ask because, well, there are often little critters flying around the tomatoes and peaches I’ve got ripening on the counter. And then there are the little guys who sometimes crawl out of a mushroom when I’m prepping them, and well you can’t husk corn without finding worms, right?

Actually, you can avoid all that. Simply buy conventionally grown fruits and veggies from a big box grocery store. They will be blemish-free and you will not find any bugs on them…and certainly no dirt. But they will be coated with pesticides and other unsavory things.

The thing is, I’m starting to see bugs and dirt as a badge of honor, as proof that the food I’m buying, growing and eating is real. It is real because a small, local farmer grew it and eschewed chemical sprays to ward off bugs. Me personally, I’d much rather push aside a bug knowing that the food I’m about to eat has never been coated with pesticides, wouldn’t you?

I was shooting at Genesis Growers farm recently and Vicki Westerhoff showed me some of her beans:

Now she’s proud of her beans and not the least bit bothered by those brown spots on them, but she knows some consumers balk when they see such things. We are starting to get used to buying weirdly shaped tomatoes these days, but maybe not a bean with a bug bite on it, a harmless little brown spot. Vicki would like you to know that if you want to eat locally farmed, organically grown foods, they will not be perfect. You have to get used to imperfections and I’d like to suggest you make Vicki proud and even search them out. The next time you’re rummaging through sweet corn at a farmer’s market and you find a few worms in the tops, don’t throw them back. Show the farmer some respect and accept, heck, even relish a few wormy tops. This is the most trustworthy organic label you can find. No sticker that says organic. No organic sign. Just solid, wormy proof that the farmer grew without pesticides. Yup, be proud of bugs!

Husk your corn:

and lop off the tops, voilá!

Please understand that an organic farmer is working to control bugs, but their main defense is a healthy, balanced ecosystem on the farm. You need bugs and things that eat bugs. Vicki has a resident box turtle now, for example, and that is a marker that she has a balance of critters below that. Now she is trying to attract bats.

Knowing your healthful, organically raised food means knowing the challenges farmers face. Show them your love and buy their buggy produce with pride!

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