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Jun 10, 2007 04:20 PM

Bugs in broccoli

I have just started buying organic broccoli to make baby food. I have noticed that there are LOTS of bugs in the florets. They are poppyseed size, along with what I think are eggs. Is that normal??? I have tried soaking the florets but it doesn't even get half the bugs out. Are there any tricks? I have already thrown out 3 or 4 heads of broccoli because of the bugs.

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  1. I've noticed this in my organic cauliflower. I resorted to bioling it first thing (10 min). I remove the entire head, drain it, then proceed to cut it up - dilligently looking for creepy crawlies of course. What I have found is that the roling boil gets to all the nooks and crannies, and all i'm left with are dead bugs floating separatly in the remaining water. Good luck.

    1. just soak in salt water - submerged - poof - all gone. I have always done that wit hboth broccoli and cauliflower

      1. Salt water works mostly but you still have to search for bugs that are stuck in small places.

        You may find this problem disappears after your first post broccoli diaper change - one whiff and you'll simply never feed the baby broccoli again and all will be well!

        2 Replies
          1. re: enbell

            I guess there is something to be said for the non-organic broccoli....

        1. they are just aphids.

          I blast them out with my dish sprayer and cook the broccoli.

          You don't see them or taste them; no big deal.

          4 Replies
          1. re: toodie jane

            Hate to be a buzz-kill, but more than one head of organic cauliflower ha had bigger, black-colored residents...clearly NOT APHIDS. Sometimes I wonder why I'm willing to pay more for organic products, I suppose the answer could be I'm simply paying for the extra protein :)

            1. re: enbell

              aphids do come in many colors from blue-green, green, white, pink, and greyish-black, and some can be pretty healthy-sized buggers, about the size of a 'fully- inflated' sesame seed. Not many hard-shelled insect attack the brassicas. Could it have been this guy, 'bout 1/4" long?


              I always look at it as I'm paying extra to do *without* the poisons. That would be these:


              1. re: toodie jane

                Probably was that guy after - but in between the size of a sesame seed and a sunflower seed. Because weeding through the current thread on what chowhounds do for a living would be insane at this point, did I miss your entry an an entymologist :)? I too know that broccoli and cauliflower are lower priority items when it comes to organic which is why I have direct comparison examples. The only bug experiences I have had have been with organic cauliflower, on two separate occasions, that's the only reason I brought it up. I prefer to buy from the source directly when I can. While I'm not in an agricultural wasteland, this is still not possible 100% of the time. Thank you for all the info!

              2. re: enbell

                Organic products are nutritionally equal to non-organic.
                You have made a choice that you don't want products raised using certain types of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Organic farmers can use products as well, as long as they are from an approved list, so you should always wash organic products extremely well as some of the products, such as sulfur, are things you would not wish to consume. They carry warning labels on the containers even though they are approved for organic farming and gardening.

            2. As caulifower and broccoli go, they're faily low in pesticides as it is so if I'm skimping on organics, that's what I'd cut.


              But, anything grown in the ground can have bugs in it. When I worked for a couple of large agricultural producers (conventional produce), we'd get so many calls from people who complained about it. It's just part of living with nature.;-)

              12 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                yes, it's all relative. Still, carbaryl (Sevin) isn't koolaid.

                Conventional spinach from the Salinas region is heavily sprayed with some very potent fungicides because of an nasty wilt that plagues it in that region. Definitely a veggie to buy pesticide-free.

                Celery is very heavily sprayed in the Santa Maria growing region. Cutting celery is considered the "entry level" job for newly arrived farm workers--most farm workers don't want to work it because of the high concentrations of pesticides. This from a farm worker friend of mine.

                Bottom line, I buy pesticide free from local growers, or grow my own, and accept the bugs. Rinse everything.

                1. re: toodie jane

                  Well... I won't drink koolaid, either.;-) I buy organic produce (as local as possible, since I don't have the benefit of being in the salad bowl) in season for produce that are high in pesticides. The problem spinach growers have is that people want perfect leaves. Hard to do with leaves so they spray the heck out of it. I can live with the bugs and don't mind sharing a leaf w/ a few bug bites.:-)

                  I think celery is also lower in that it's easier to cut than something like cauliflower which is highly skilled. Removing the outside greens is hard, especially w/out hurting the cauliflower. I don't remember what the difference in pay scale was but it was pretty significant about 10 years ago.

                  1. re: chowser

                    ....c 1990 California Agriculture chemical-resistant race of downey mildew threatens Salinas spinach was about having to till in the entire crop, not about cosmetic damage.

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      Interesting--thanks. I'd heard about pesticides as cosmetics control but will read more about this. I wonder how the organics get around it.

                      1. re: chowser

                        Most organic spinach I've seen was grown in greenhouses - maybe that's the solution to the cosmetic issues!

                        1. re: lupaglupa

                          This has been such a short but informative discussion. I never thought in detail how organic spinach was grown, and whether it's something sustainable to eat in large quantities. I'm going to have to look into this--thanks.

                          1. re: lupaglupa

                            Cosmetics! We worked with Vietnamese rice farmers who sprayed pesticides for early season defoliators. When they actually compared sprayed and un-sprayed plots, yields were the same. Many kept spraying. Asked why, they replied: "If I don't spray my fields look ugly and my neighbors say I'm a bad farmer". And they were talking about the look of the plants before grain formation--nothing to to with the rice itself.

                  2. re: chowser

                    I don't know about US production, but Brassicas like cauliflower and broccoli in Asia and Latin America are produced with a lot of pesticides. The insects in the organic are pretty harmless.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Good distinction--thanks for pointing that out. I try to buy local produce or at least produced in the US but it's good to keep in mind. Thanks!

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Most insects are pretty harmless. Malaria mosquitos and a few others aside...
                        Some are even beneficial.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          Change to "...most insects you would encounter in your vegetables..." OK?

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Insects have an undeserved bad reputation. Just reading through this thread, we find people who throw perfectly good food away rather than wash off a few harmless hitch-hiking bugs. Most aren't even dirty or disease carriers. Most don't bite. Even tarantulas have a hard time chomping down. Large numbers are beneficial and some farmers encourage those to control problem pests or pollinate crops. Little kids love them but adults go yuck!
                            This shouldn't be that big a deal. The bugs like good food as much as we do. Wash them off if they're still around.