Monday, July 13, 2009

Eat Bug or Not Eat Bug, That Is the Question

(written July 12, 2009 5:00 am-ish)

In my quest toward eating more local, organic food, I may have just eaten a bug. This was not just any bug, it was a small beetle that looks/looked suspiciously like a little section of one of the blackberries I picked to put in my yogurt.

Maybe I should start from the beginning. I was packing my lunch for work and I decided to try to bring mostly veggies and fruit since I really had already had my main meal of the day-but I still usually get hungry at work. I packed some organic carrots grown by local kids who sold them to me at the Farmers’ Market. I made a small salad using up the last of the lettuce and dpinaceh that I got at the Farmers’ Market on that same day. I decided I also needed to have something a bit more substantial, so I decided on gogurt. (I must confess that the container of plain yogurt in my fridge was not produced or bought locally. I was out of the goats’ milk yogurt that I usually get from Simple Times Farm, and I happened to be at Costco, so…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) I went outside around 9pm to pick whatever berries were ripe to use in my yogurt. I have purple smear stains on my arms where I was whacking the mosquitoes as they dive-bombed me by the tens. I think my record was killing six with one whack. (Perhaps my pacifist gene is not so dominant after all.) For every two or three mosquitoes I killed, I spilled one or two berries as my arm jerked with the frantic force of my blows. The blackberries, jostaberries and mulberries are all begging to be eaten, frozen or made into jam, juice or vinaigrette. I picked about a cup of blackberries and picked up about 60 mosquito bites. (Where do they all come from???!)

As I was rinsing the berries and picking out the few bad ones that I had collected in my mosquito-riddled haste, I saw a little beetle... I tried to get it. I thought I did, but then I saw it again. I rinsed again but I didn’t want to be late for work, so I put the berries in my yogurt along with some locally produced honey and…maybe the bug.

I looked at every spoonful and swooshed the berries all around in the yogurt but didn’t see the bug. I don’t think I did. Earlier, when I had seen the bug for sure, it looked an awful lot like one of the tiny dark sections of the berries. And, since it was a beetle, I imagine the hard shell probably crunches like the seeds in the little berry sections. Maybe I didn’t eat the bug. Maybe.

Eating one little bug should not be so disturbing to me. According to my mom, we each eat a bushel of dirt before we die. What she didn’t mention at the time, but that I know now, is that much of what we call dirt is really worm poop.

Maybe I did eat the bug.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Gift of Blood

Yesterday, I had a disturbing encounter with a woman who seemed to honestly not know why giving blood is a good thing. She appeared to believe that saving someone’s life is not a good enough reason to give blood.

I really hope that her saying to her 10-12 year old son “why would anyone want to do that?” was simply her way of stimulating thoughtful conversation with him. I really hope she was trying to get him to say what I was saying behind her, “because it saves people’s lives.” (She had a blank look at that answer.) I really hope that the mistake is mine in misinterpreting her question. I really hope (but doubt) that the ignorance is not hers in believing that the personal discomfort of a needle in the arm is a mere annoyance in the face of saving someone’s life with the red elixir. I really hope that the mistake is mine in failing to see her as trying to get her son to think critically about such an important gift. I really hope (but doubt) that the selfishness is not hers in believing that it is not her or anyone responsibility to help people besides themselves. I really hope that the mistake is mine in seeing the whole short exchange in a cynical light.

I cannot give blood, unfortunately. The first time I donated as a freshman at MSU, I allowed myself to sink into blissful oblivion and got really annoyed when the nurse put smelling salts under my nose to wake me up. I was trying to take a mini mind vacate-tion from the chaos that was my life at the time. The second time I tried to give blood, they told me not to come back. My body would only give up a partial unit. My veins gave up giving up the red with less than a half pint. They had to toss it, because they said that they can only use full units. They said that my veins weren’t able to perform as required.

I am thankful for people like my friend, John, who not only volunteers for the Red Cross, but also donates platelets and whole blood as often as possible. I am thankful because I have a partner who requires a weekly infusion of blood products in the form of Gama globulin in order to stay healthy, probably in order to stay alive. I am thankful because I had a friend in high school who relied on human insulin because his body wouldn’t respond appropriately to swine or synthetic insulin. I am thankful because a friend of mine who is dealing with cancer needs periodic blood transfusions in order to keep up her strength so that she can keep up with her beautiful children. I am thankful because the little old lady across the street had transfusions last week because her own blood was not doing its job on its own. I am thankful for people like John because I cannot give blood myself and I feel like he is giving of himself on my behalf.

For more information on giving blood, you can visit the website of the American Red Cross at: