Are You Getting More Than You Bargained for at the Grocery Store?
Pasta… peanut butter… crackers… canned tomatoes… what do they all have in common?
Under FDA regulations, they are all permitted to contain a certain amount of insects, insect parts, or rodent parts. As long as the “ick” factor doesn’t cross the FDA’s threshold, a few bugs in your food have been deemed totally fine.
Now, from a safety standpoint, these unwanted additives in your food won’t hurt you. But it’s still an unsavory thought that every time you break open your favorite box of cookies, you’re also snacking on some uninvited guests.
Fortunately, I can point to a couple of easy fixes to the “bugs in your food” problem. Even better, these changes will also improve your diet and that will mean better health for you and your family.
5 Bugs That Are Part of Your Diet
Food processing plants just don’t have the capacity to clean away all the bugs from the foods they receive. They also cannot guarantee that bugs won’t get in the processing line and contaminate the food.
The bad news is that means all processed foods contain bugs. There’s just no way around it.
The good news is that the bugs are cooked and processed right along with the actual food product, so you can’t see them. The parts are just too small.
To give you an idea of what you’re dealing with:
- Frozen veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach routinely contain aphids.
- Mites regularly infiltrate grains like flour and rice.
- Canned foods often contain maggots – mushrooms are the worst offender. The FDA allows 100 maggots for every 100 grams of canned mushrooms.
- Fruit juice contains an average of five fruit flies per serving.
- Frozen or canned spinach usually has caterpillar larvae in it.
All right – I’ve probably sufficiently grossed you out. So let’s move on to three ways you can avoid most of the insects that are sneaking into your food.
Three Ways to Bug-Proof Your Diet
I’ll emphasize again that these insects don’t present a health risk, but if you’d rather enjoy your food bug-free, you’ll also enjoy a healthier diet because you’ll eat fewer processed foods and refined grains.
Step One: Ditch the Processed Foods
By far, most of the bugs in your diet come from processed foods. At home, when you wash a small batch of fresh fruits or vegetables for a meal, it’s easy to see you’ve rinsed away all the bugs. Big food-processing companies clean food on a massive scale. It’s impossible for them to see that they washed away every last bug.
Anything that’s canned, boxed, frozen, or otherwise packaged is going to contain insect parts. If you buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of the canned options and avoid highly processed foods like packaged cookies and crackers altogether, you’ll go a long way to minimizing your unwanted bug intake.
Cutting back on processed foods will also remove a large portion of processed sugars and fats from your diet. And it will cut out chemical additives and preservatives. These things are contributors to many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Step Two: Cut Back on Grains
Grains are hard to clean. Anything made from flour is going to have some degree of bug contamination. Even buying raw flour isn’t going to solve that problem. However, you can buy oats, barley, and rice – things that are big enough to sift through or rinse. That way you can ensure that you aren’t getting any unwelcome guests in your next meal.
Reducing your flour intake is another boon for your health overall. Flour – especially white flour – doesn’t offer a lot in terms of nutrition and it’s hard on your body’s ability to manage blood sugar and insulin levels. By cutting back, you may lower your risk of diabetes.
Step Three: Don’t Drink Your Calories
Unfortunately, juice is another big source of bugs in your diet. If you swap juice for water or coffee (grind it yourself to make sure it’s bug free), you’ll eliminate those bugs while eliminating another diabetes trigger and a source of empty calories.
The average American eats about a pound of insect parts a year as part of the typical diet. If that’s an unwelcome notion, make the three changes I suggest here, and you’ll cut way back on the number of bugs you’re unknowingly eating. Plus, you’ll improve your overall health while you’re at it.