As someone who strives to grow beautiful produce without pesticides, I can vouch for the fact that at times, “beautiful” is not possible. Sometimes, the bugs just come. And with the insects come the inevitable holes in the leaves. In fact, our spinach and Asian vegetables have had a particularly difficult winter. So what’s a clean eater to do? Eat your veggies anyway.
This morning my husband and I had a frittata with sautéed Asian greens and goat cheese. That frittata didn’t even know the tatsoi had holes in it, and I certainly couldn’t taste them. More importantly, I actually did myself a favor, because produce with a few bug holes in it might just be more nutritious.
When a plant is damaged by insect feeding, it senses the threat and springs into action, creating defense compounds to deter the pest. Some of the defense compounds the plant produces are phenolic compounds, which may serve as strong antioxidants with multiple human health benefits that are gaining attention. Plant phenolics have been reported to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties, as well as being antitumor agents. They also have been used to treat skin disorders, such as psoriasis, and have demonstrated the potential to lower blood pressure.
If foods that naturally contain high levels of these antioxidant phenolic compounds, such as teas, grapes, chocolate, coffee, herbs, and seaweed, are known to be very good for you, fruits and vegetables with a few insect holes could be equally beneficial.
So stop worrying about those holes in your veggies, and start loving your pesticide free farmer! Count your blessings if your produce isn’t treated with chemicals. It may not win any beauty pageants, but it will give you an extra dose of healthful phytonutrients. If it is clean enough for the bugs to eat, it is clean enough for me! I believe holes are good, and I hope I’ve convinced you to look at it a new way.
Now, isn’t that some food for thought?