Wormy Corn: a Delicious Gift

Gusano del Maiz / Corn Worm

Corn Worm (Photo credit: NeoGaboX)

When was the last time you found a worm in your corn?  Recently, while shucking a few ears of local corn, I nearly jumped for joy to find a fat, happy, munching worm in an ear! There’s a story that my father is fond of telling about me, especially in the summer when Americans are smitten with eating  corn on the cob, smothered in butter, salt and pepper. When I was a small girl of some undetermined age but surely younger than 8, I asked my father, in all my childish innocence, “what do you do with the worms?” To which he replied, ” we put them in the gravy!”  That bit of information never deterred me from eating gravy because even at that age I was well aware of my father’s unique and undiminishing sense of humor.

That conversation is at least 42 years old if not more. These days, most people don’t want worms in their corn, soft spots in their fruit, or blemishes on their food. If it’s a little ‘off’ or not as perfect as we’ve been led to believe equals nutritious, then many people throw away perfectly edible food. Business Insider recently reported that Americans waste $165 BILLION in food a year. The Week reports that every American throws away 40% of our food each year. They go on to say that one reason is that we buy too much food and it ‘expires’ before it can be used.  I’ve eaten so much expired food in my life and am still here to tell you about it.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, expires ON the date of the stamped expiration date. Nothing. But I digress. The article also goes on to say that the food we waste the most is….drumroll…..vegetables.  “Not only do vegetables get thrown away when they expire at home, but they also get trashed before they even make it to your refrigerator. In richer nations, edible fruit and vegetables end up in landfills because they are not pretty enough [emphasis mine] to meet a retailer’s standards.”   Not depressed enough yet? Dana Gunders of the National Defenses Resource Council writes,

” Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This not only means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also that the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions. Reducing food losses by just 15 percent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables.”

Give me the UGLY food! Really. Give me the food the insects have marred because I know the food hasn’t been sprayed. And it’s delicious.  Recently, at a local Farmers’ Market, several men who were enjoying a summer day golfing bought peaches, soft, ripe, fragrant peaches.  Within an hour they were back but all I had were dented, soft peaches that were attracting all sorts of curious, hungry insects. I apologized that all I had were these peaches  that were soft, and ugly (hoping I could take them home for myself).  They took most of them, stating, “that’s ok, we know they’ll be good.” I doubt they were disappointed.

Give me the ugly fruit and vegetables. I know they will be delicious. And no, I don’t want to eat food that has been genetically modified to withstand pesticides and herbicides as Monsanto has forced down our gullible gullets. I blame the government, I blame Monsanto and I blame Americans who need to have fast, convenient, sweet, fatty, and perfect foods.

This corn was bought from a family farmer on a street corner in a small rural town. It was the third picking of the day and it was only about noon. It was sweet, delicious and ugly. And I loved it. At a time when I shy away from nearly all corn and corn-products, thanks to GMO corn from Monsanto, I can say, worm and all, this was truly a delicious gift.

So what did I do with the worm? I lovingly carried it out to my chickens, of course! The circle of life.