Yes, there are likely bugs living in our fresh produce. No, I did not want to be reminded of that.
File this under “information I already knew on an intellectual level but did not need a visceral reminder of”: people are discovering anew that there are probably tiny insects living inside their strawberries, as evidenced by a new TikTok trend that involves soaking the berries in saltwater and recoiling in horror at the bugs that crawl out of the fruit’s flesh.
The tiny white worms that emerge in a lot of these videos are the maggots of a fly known as the spotted wing drosophila, entomologist and University of Florida assistant professor Sriyanka Lahiri told Health. This fly, an invasive species from East Asia, has the ability to lay eggs inside ripe berries without damaging the surface; the eggs then hatch into maggots, which continue feeding inside the fruit. Washing the fruit may force some of them out, but not all, as the maggots live deep inside the berry.
On one hand, it’s good to remember that fresh produce doesn’t magically appear, sterile, in a supermarket, but comes from the earth along with all sorts of other organisms. The Food and Drug Administration has an entire guide on the levels of “defects” — including the presence of insects — that are permitted in what we eat. It would be impossible to eliminate all insects from food without using an “insane amount of pesticides,” which is neither good for the environment nor for our health, said Lahiri.
“If you’re eating fresh produce, you’re eating bugs,” entomologist and Cornell University professor Greg Loeb told CNN, joking that it’s just “a little more protein” to go along with your food.
But on the other hand, no, please don’t remind me of this fact in the form of extremely zoomed-in viral videos!!!
TL;DR: You can still eat and enjoy strawberries, even though they might be home to tiny bugs.
And in other news…
- Drive-thrus are helping fast-food chains recover in sales in recent weeks, prompting chains like Starbucks to focus more on drive-thru and pickup options. [Restaurant Business]
- Taco Bell is looking to hire 30,000 new employees this summer, with many of those roles dedicated to cleaning and safety measures. [NRN]
- Demand for flour in the U.K. has reached “obscene” levels, as people across the country go hard on pandemic baking. [NYT]
- Microsoft and Purdue University have created an app that details the amount of food production at risk — for example, if farmworkers have tested positive for COVID-19 — in areas across the U.S. [Modern Farmer]
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