It's Not the Bugs in Your Food That You Need to Worry About

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather

I saw an article in the Toronto Star newspaper recently about how weevils
had been found in some bags of rice. But they just weren’t found in the rice,
they had “infiltrated and contaminated” the rice. Really? Contaminated?–weevils-found-in-rice-at-real-canadian-superstore-in-toronto

After the contaminated bags were removed the area was inspected by a
pest-control company and thoroughly cleaned. Because you know, you don’t want
your food to come into contact with bugs! 

Well, I’ve got news for you. Food does come in contact with bugs. Lots of
them. Most of our food wouldn’t even exist if bugs hadn’t pollinated it at some
point. Oh, and by the way, food grows in dirt! That’s right, it grows right in
the dirt! Yuck! 

Our world has reached the point where people freak out about a perfectly
natural process. It simply amazes me that people who eat things like
hamburgers, which are ground up pieces of cows, freak out over bugs. “Oh those
bugs are gross, but please pass me some more liver.” 

Our sterile, Styrofoam-packaged culture has distorted our perception of
reality and something as natural as bugs are seen as unsanitary, while the real
threat to your health is what you can’t see. It’s the pesticides and
insecticides and fungicides and all those other “cides” that make your food
look perfect, but which can cause huge problems in your body. 

People who don’t grow their own food don’t get the link between all the
parts of the food chain and the cycle of life and death that comes into play
growing food. And it’s too bad because you lose an appreciation for just how
amazing a grocery store is. 

Steven Spielberg made a great movie in 1987 called “Empire of The Sun” about
a boy separated from his parents in China during World War II. He spends the war
in an internment camp. I will always remember one of the final scenes of U.S.
P51 fighters shooting up an airstrip and the great footage. 

The other thing I will always remember from that movie is what people had to
eat in order to survive. It was pretty gruesome. There was a scene in which the
boy is eating from a bowl of rice, and much of what’s in the bowl is moving and
wiggling around. Sure, we’ve all seen the “Survivor” participants eating bugs,
but this little boy’s bowl of rice & bugs hits a little too close to home.
At first the boy starts separating the rice from the bugs, but one of the
adults shakes his head as if to say, “Just leave it, you need the protein,
better to not notice which is which.” 

I’m not advocating that we all start pounding back the bugs, but I am
suggesting that people need to lighten up. Many of the cans of food that you
buy are coated with endocrine disruptors like Bisphenol A (BPA) but are people
concerned? Not really, it’s just those weevils in the rice that we don’t like.
They’re like … well … bugs! They squirm and wriggle. That’s gross. 

People focus too much on the stuff that isn’t dangerous and not enough on
what is. 

I suppose we can suggest that the media plays a role in this. I recently
read that the media are now reporting and editorializing on environmental
issues less and less often as the temperature of the planet goes up more and

In a previous blog post I mentioned that Brian Williams was on the NBC
Nightly News recently asking the Weather Channel guy if there something to all
this crazy weather – New Yorkers wearing shorts in January, flooding in the
east, wild fires burning drought-ravaged Texas, tornadoes wiping out Joplin,
Missouri and hurricanes drowning New Orleans, etc etc etc blah blah blah. The
weather guy carefully dodged the question and never did say whether or not
climate change has anything to do with our crazy weather. It’s like there’s an
unwritten rule – just report the weather, don’t editorialize on what’s causing
it, other than when they blame the cold on one of those fronts that the
Canadians send down from Canada. 

I’ve done a few radio interview shows and I often hear from people who call in
to say that they don’t support the concept of climate change. I wonder how they
view this crazy weather and the fact that we keep breaking records and
experiencing the hottest years ever?  In fact, 2010 was the hottest year
ever, taking that title over from 2006, which had been the hottest year up
until then.

Climate change is a bummer. Really, who wants to read or hear about that on
the news? Better to just ignore it. I don’t blame the media for giving people
what they want. With privately owned commercial based media I guess we should
expect nothing less. But it’s unfortunate. There seems to be a lot of
information to suggest that we should be taking climate change more seriously.
Really seriously. 

I really like this Norwegian video about the long-term trend and the
variations around it. Yup, the temperature is going up and down over the short
term. And yes, with climate change, sometimes places that don’t usually get
snow might get dumped on. That doesn’t affect the long-term trajectory. It’s
going up, up, up! 

Sometimes I wish I could just be one of those people on a permanent news
blackout and just read novels. Then I think I could just forget about this
climate change stuff. But next summer, when I am battling the latest drought
that threatens my farm and my livelihood, I won’t be able to ignore it. I guess
I need to move to the city, get an air-conditioned apartment with underground
parking, let someone else grow my food, and sit around and read novels. That’s
the solution! Come on Michelle, we’re movin’ back to the city! 

* * * * * * *

Cam has a new book available from Mother Earth News! “Little House Off the Grid” is the story of Cam & Michelle’s move from the city to an off-grid century-old farmhouse in the country. See more about Cam and this book in the current issue of Mother Earth News magazine!

For more information about Cam or his books please visit or

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