What's More Natural Than A Bug?

Some people's food standards might be a little different then others.

Published on: Aug 1, 2012
The thing that surprised me – but shouldn't have, given the speck experience above – was how horrified everyone was. By a bug. On the broccoli. Which grows in dirt. The conversation was peppered with words like gross and ewwww. Some even suggested she call the store and complain, or better yet, take her receipt back in for a refund.

Plenty natural

I can sympathize, to a certain extent. I, too, have found the little green worm on my garden broccoli, which God happened to make the exact shade of green as the broccoli. And bugs in the lettuce. And those big, fat tomato worms give me the absolute willies. I don't like them but as farmers, we know insects exist. We find ways to control them. We deal with them and we move on, whether in the field, the garden or the kitchen sink. Same with the speck in the lemonade.

Our consumers have told us over and over they want their food "natural." But they also want it perfect. They don't want it sprayed or genetically engineered. But still, they want it perfect.

There was a day when I'd have been sorely tempted to tell that prissy suburban girl with the lemonade to get over it and just drink the lemonade. That is, in essence the message that we in agriculture have been telling consumers for a long time: get over it and eat your food.

But this conversation? It's another reminder that when you're disconnected from the reality of how your food is grown, you can't accept bugs, because they are gross and imperfect. As farmers, we don't like it and maybe we don't even get what their problem is. And we can tell them from now till next Tuesday to deal with it. But more than ever, it appears to me that farmers are the ones who are going to have to find ways to, well, deal with it. Because the bug clock isn't turning back.

Comments? Email hspangler@farmprogress.com.