Not so perfect produce
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July 30, 2011 — Is it safe to eat garden produce that's been bitten by a bug? Mike McGrath discusses how to best utilize less-than-perfect pickings. Plus your fabulous phone calls.
hate to waste any of my precious produce, and after 20 years have come to terms with the fact that I have to share some amount with creatures big and small. So I tend to eat collards and kale that have some leaf nibbles, but not any with little squiggles on the leaves. I tend to eat the odd looking little raspberries that aren't picture perfect, but I toss ones that are already half-eaten. Now I’m wondering—what do I really need to avoid? I figure eating a collard green with a hole in it isn't going to hurt me. But do the insects that make the hole perhaps leave something behind I should worry about? One thing is certain: I’ll always toss crops that were hit with bird poop, because I'm afraid I won't be able to wash it all off completely. I use some fertilizer (not Scotts!) and free compost from the township. But I don't buy any kind of insecticide, and wonder if I should stop being cheap and invest in some safe ones. How do you strike a balance between getting a decent harvest and paying $65 for a tomato? I'm not out to win competitions; I just want a few fresh crops to supplement the table. Get the answer »