Insects aren’t necessarily bad for you, and insects in grains have served as a source of Vitamin B12 for vegans in some countries. However, they can destroy your food. And most people prefer not to include them in their diet.
Since bugs aren’t kosher, I’ve learned techniques for keeping bugs out of food in the first place. Below are tips for keeping your food insect-free.
- Buy grains and legumes in stores that are shady and cool, with a high turn-around. An open-air market may have better prices. The storage conditions in an open-air market may not be ideal, but the higher turn-around might mean the produce is fresher. After all, packaged grains from the store come from a sack too.
- If the food is in a plastic package, hold up one end of the bag and let the grains fall to the bottom. Check the corner of the bag for white threads, a sign of larvae infestation. (Larvae are immature insects.)
- Keep grains, legumes and nuts in the freezer. This will kill live insects and prevent them from laying eggs. Also, whole grains, nuts and other foods high in oil get rancid when left at room temperature.
- Before cooking, place dry grains in a colander or strainer over a paper or plate. Shake to see if any insects fall out.
- If you soak the grains in water, stir them with your hand to see if bugs float to the top. After beans are soaked you may also see insects under the skin.
- Holes are another sign of infestation.
- Beans from Canada have a reputation for being relatively insect-free.
- Fruit that is starting to get ripe attracts insects that will lay eggs inside. Keep ripe fruit refrigerated, and check inside and out before eating.
(photo by eggybird)