Everybody wants the best: The best carrot, the sweetest apple, the juiciest tomato, the biggest yam. But pretty isnâ€™t everything. We all know that looks deceive.
Last week, I met a young Thai woman who had grown up on a farm in Chiang Rai. She cautioned me about the cabbages and leafy vegetables sold in local markets. Farmers often donâ€™t rotate these crops, she said, and the soil grows ever more depleted with each season. So the farmers douse the plants with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which end up in the groundwater. She remembers drinking straight from the village well when she was young. No more. â€œOnly bottled water now.â€
Thereâ€™s a simple way to determine whether you have a healthy bunch of greens, she said. If your cabbage has holes, it means the worms have nibbled their share, and you should be OK. If the worms can eat it, so can you. (Generally speaking.)
Earlier that afternoon, while making lunch, I had sliced into an eggplant and found a whole worm embedded in the middle. I cut around it and proceeded with my cooking.
Tonight, Iâ€™m going to make a tofu stir-fry with some greens I picked up at the Queenâ€™s place. I did the spot check (above), and we should be just fine: lots of little holes.
Love the worm. Itâ€™s your friend.