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Finger food

The phrase "finger food" has taken on a whole new meaning. In the past, finger food brought to mind delicate cucumber sandwiches, celery sticks or chocolate dipped strawberries. Now, I can only envision yet another mysterious digit turning up in someone's food.

Authorities suspect a Las Vegas woman planted the object in her fast food chili, maybe hoping to take advantage of the deep pockets of the corporation. And then there was the case of the North Carolina man who discovered the mysterious lump in his custard was not the piece of candy he thought it was.

Bizarre stories of foreign objects in food surface all the time, prompting many people to make it a personal mission to be involved in producing their own food chain.

We concerned consumers take up vegetable gardening, buy expensive "natural" foods, cook from scratch, refuse to use additives and in general try to make wise choices.

But no matter how hard we try, it's all an illusion that our food is unadulterated. The FDA knows we eat pounds of unpleasant stuff every year, and experts even set a limit on how much is acceptable.

The whole wheat flour in those home-made apple muffins may contain insect parts, the allspice in the batter may have mold, and the fruit may come in a rustic package with a farmhouse scene, but it was probably drenched with insecticide. (If you're looking for some good news, consider what a natural appetite suppressant this information can be.)

On the positive side, insect parts will not usually hurt anyone. In fact, most countries in the world consume a regular diet of insects.

A few years ago when my husband traveled often to Thailand, he befriended a young Thai army officer who prepared a special farewell meal during their last visit. When my husband showed up, his smiling host presented him with a giant platter of golden fried grasshoppers.

"Special, for you," the young officer said, explaining in halting English he had to go all the way to Bangkok to procure the delicacy.

With international relations on the line, my husband did the right thing and consumed them with gratitude and as much zest as he could muster. When I asked how they were, he said "crunchy."

He admitted the key to success was not to over-analyze the meal.

I have taken this sound advice to heart. Knowing too much about what we eat is not a good thing, and even though I've come to terms with a little bit of contamination, I don't think I'll be sending away for the Eat-A-Bug Cookbook.

Web posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005


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