Bugs or Pesticides?


The idea of finding, or worse, eating “worms” in your lettuce, cauliflower, or broccoli sounds really gross for most people.  In our culture, we’ve grown pretty used to perfect-looking produce—perfectly round, red tomatoes; big green broccoli; soft golden mangoes, etc. We’re not used to imperfections in appearance. Sadly, we trade looks for taste and nutrition value much of the time… and worse, for toxic pesticides.


People expect large, ripe, and blemish-free fruits and vegetables to travel across the country to a supermarket near them, still looking like they just came out of the fields. And they expect them to stay in perfect condition for several days, if not weeks! But the fruit and vegetables found in most supermarkets do look bright, shiny, firm and blemish-free probably because they have been sprayed with pesticides and chemical preservatives.


In the natural world of farming,  adult female moths lay eggs on the cabbage and lettuce plants, and the hatching caterpillars or “worms,” feed on the outer leaves and heads causing defoliation and reducing the grade or marketability of the crop. Application of chemical insecticides is one method that farmers can use to protect vegetable crops against insect attacks.


Medical studies show that pesticides can cause health problems, such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, fertility problems and other effects that might occur over a long period of time. Infants and children are especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides because their internal organs are still developing and maturing.


At Healthy Options, we’re continually working with our local organic farmers in finding ways to reduce, if not eliminate, bug infestations using natural and harmless pesticides. Meantime, I suggest when buying fresh organic produce, try adding some salt along with the vinegar to the water you use to wash/soak the vegetables. Thorough inspection before buying helps, but is not always practical, so blanching the vegetables for a few minutes can also help. On the bright side, while it’s not visually appealing, finding bugs in your fruit and vegetables is a sign that they have not been sprayed with toxic chemicals. Personally, I prefer to eat salad that I have prepared myself and/or know that the source of the vegetables has impeccable provenance.


My tips:  Get to know where and how the fresh produce, meat, and seafood you buy is grown, caught, slaughtered, processed, packed and shipped (I know it’s a drag; when I was a kid I just ate! But times have changed; we now live in a toxic world of fast and cheap food). Ask about storing tips and temperature. Find and develop good relationships with local farmers/vendors. Support them. Buy on provenance, not just looks. If the shop assistants can’t tell you where their fresh produce, meat or seafood comes from, don’t buy. Do the same with restaurants.



Best of Health,

 Romy Sia

[email protected]