Friday, January 11, 2013

I ate bugs.

(I wrote this a few years ago, posting now.)

So, I ate bugs.

And/or their excreta.

I was starving. And trying desperately to avoid the candy jar. "I will be healthy!" I thought. "I brought raisins and by god, I will eat them!" Living with parents who've been raised by folks who made it through the depression has made me frugal. I do not waste food easily.

Now, I have just moved back home this past weekend after being in Arizona for 5 months. I spent all of Sunday unpacking and haven't really gone food shopping yet. I mean, I picked up a box of frozen salmon but I can't really snack on that at work. So when the afternoon rapacious, greedy, insatiable hunger demon attacks, I need to be prepared. Yesterday's weapon of choice was an old, wayward box of stiff raisins that I clumsily grabbed as I was tearing out the door. I had no idea how old they were. But raisins last forever, right?

Fast forward to 4pm. Normally I get hungry around 3 but I was particularly uninterested in my anti-starvation arsenal. I waited until my stomach started to digest itself and then, while composing a response to a guy wanting to sell us his useless vinyl record collection, I tore into the box of raisins. They were dry, crumbly and unyielding (a particularly unappetizing combination in a raisin) but I mindlessly jammed giant handfuls down my maw anyway. I downed nearly the entire box this way, not even looking.

Now down to only three raisins glued to the back of the box, I clawed blindly but they were out of reach. So I tore it open. And made the mistake of looking.

And that's when I discovered something very wrong inside:

Not a normal box of raisins

Um, raisins are not supposed to look like this, right?

I looked closely, unable to help myself. Yep, bugs. Little segmented parts, tiny hairs and ingested raisin excreta all over the box. I don't know WHAT ate them, but I clearly did not get there first.

I stood there a moment contemplating the philosophical cleansing of a good retching session.

And then I emailed my workout buddy:
I have just discovered I have eaten bugs. The retching session might not end in time to workout. Call before you go anyway, might need someone to call for help.

Cruel workout buddy:
If they were in the popcorn they were good.

No. It was the raisins. kak!

Cruel workout buddy:
oh that is bad. See, in popcorn they would probably be killed during the microwaving process. Not so in raisins. they'd probably be rather plump and juicy from all the good sugar. Like when I ate the cereal and I'd see all these tiny brown specs and think "I don't remember tiny brown things like that in Wheaties." So yes, you ate good, healthy, plump, bugs. Hopefully they washed their claspers and legs after defecating.
I reread this and stared back into the box looking very carefully at droppings from most certainly unwashed claspers and legs. Then I called him, said, "I hate you," and hung up. And spent the next 10 minutes brushing my teeth. (Yes, I keep a toothbrush at work.)

I have since learned this is not the first time I've eaten bugs. The FDA details the number of allowable insect parts in its Food Defect Action Level publication. Although this contains unallowable amounts, and even though I am not a math whiz, my brain saw this and instantly calculated the reverse: acceptable levels of insect fragments, parasitic cysts, thrips, mites, aphids, rodent hairs, mold, and worms in our food. Read on:

Unacceptable food defilement levels:
  • Herring: 60 parasitic cysts
  • Sauerkraut: 50 thrips
  • Spinach: 50 or more aphids, thrips and/or mites
  • Mushrooms: 20 or more maggots...75 mites
  • Broccoli: 60 or more aphids and/or thrips and/or mites
  • Brussel Sprouts: 30 or more aphids and/or thrips
  • Peanut Butter: 30 or more insect fragments...One or more rodent hairs
  • Wheat Flour: 75 or more insect fragments...1 or more rodent hairs
  • Tomatoes: 10 or more Drosophila (fruit) fly eggs, or 5 or more fly eggs and 1 or more maggots
  • Popcorn: 1 or more rodent excreta pellets...1 or more rodent hairs
  • Pepper, ground: 475 or more insect fragments...2 or more rodent hair
  • Peaches, canned/frozen: 3% wormy or moldy...1 or more larvae and/or larval fragments
  • Nutmeg, ground: 100 or more insect fragments...1 rodent hair
  • Oregano, ground: 1,250 or more insect fragments...5 rodent hairs
  • Macaroni & Noodle Products: 225 insect fragments...4.5 rodent hairs
Like, it's ok to have 29 thrips in your brussels sprouts but not 30. They draw the line at 30!

Also, according to this piece from NPR, coffee is absolutely infested with roaches. If you want it free of roach dust, get beans that are ground on the spot.

So, um, enjoy your meal!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much.
    I'm going to be living off I-V bags from now on.

    Unless of course the bugs are breaded and fried, or dipped in chocolate.
    Because that's delicious!