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Supposedly they have a nutty flavor
December 8, 2008 10:51 PM   Subscribe

I found a bug in my pistachio. :-(

Last night, I was spending another thrilling Sunday evening playing Text Twist and eating a bag of Chili Lemon pistachios from Trader Joe's when I cracked open a shell and saw a grub of some sort nestled inside. I shrieked and threw it into the shell bowl. I don't know if it was dead or alive, as I was too scared to inspect more closely. (Yeah, yeah, laugh all you want, but you'll be sorry you didn't evolve a more effective fear instinct when you're dying of trypanosomiasis.) I lost my appetite and put the bag of pistachios away. But now I'm debating giving the bag another go, because I'm addicted to these god damn nuts.

But what if there's another bug? A family? Eggs? Larvae? Infestation? What are the odds that this bug's world was confined to the one pistachio? What would you do? Inspect every subsequent pistachio thoroughly before eating it? They're kind of a lot of work as it is.

Should I Eat This? It should be noted that I had eaten about half the bag when I made my horrifying discovery. In addition, my aversion to grubs is severe enough that if I accidentally eat one I'll puke and never eat pistachios again. AAAAGGGHHH get the thought out of my head!!! (Yes, I know that in some heathen societies bugs are considered a delicacy and/or sold fried from street carts or whatever. That's disgusting. This is America! We only eat bugs if they're enormous and live at the bottom of the sea.)
posted by granted to Food & Drink (25 answers total)
 
Just return the bag to TJs. They will refund your money and you can decide then if you'd prefer to switch to the Thai seasoned cashews.
posted by jamaro at 10:58 PM on December 8, 2008


nth returning the bag. You were dissatisfied with the product, and you want a replacement. It's that simple.

OTOH, if you didn't see anything in the first half of the bag, there's no reason to believe it was anything other than an isolated incident. May as well keep eating.
posted by Picklegnome at 11:03 PM on December 8, 2008


>What are the odds that this bug's world was confined to the one pistachio?

Bugger all... so you've probably already eaten tons without noticing.

Don't let it bug you.
posted by pompomtom at 11:06 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


To give a serious answer, Trader Joe's quality control dept. let one slip through. I've eaten a ton of nuts from TJ's (I'm eating the pumpkin seeds now) and, to my knowledge, haven't gotten a critter yet. You're probably fine; go ahead and finish the bag.
posted by lekvar at 11:19 PM on December 8, 2008


Obviously none of you are pistachio connoisseurs, like me.

Trader Joe's didn't mess up. Every pistachio you buy from anywhere will have this problem. It's part of the whole package. My strategy is, don't buy too many pistachios at a time- if you don't have them sitting around long enough for the larvae to pop out, you'll just eat the eggs and never know the difference.

Otherwise... you know, don't look too closely, either.
posted by tumbleweedjack at 11:37 PM on December 8, 2008


The sad irony being that the bugs are probably more nutritious than most of the stuff we eat. I've looked into raising crickets as a food source. They can be unceremoniously frozen to death and ground into a flour to supplement normal bread dough with protein. I haven't had the balls to do it, yet. I mention it to make the point that it's really just an arbitrary disposition of a culture to pronounce one valid food source bad and another good.

Which probably doesn't help you right now.

I'm notorious for finding candy and fruit that's got moths, cocoons, beetles; and getting the bowl of amorphous stew that happens to have the massive bone shard, or broken glass, or wire from a splatter guard. Two out of three times, I eventually get lured back to whatever it was when my craving for the food surpasses my ambivalence about the quality control.

If I were you, I'd toss or return that bag and forget about it for a while until the shock goes away. Grab some snacks that are too processed to have obvious critters. The savory thins at TJs are good.
posted by evil holiday magic at 12:13 AM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would not eat the rest of the bag if the bug was living, or resembled something I'd possibly find in my pantry.

I would eat the rest of the bag if the bug was dead, or resembled something that you'd find in a pistachio orchard.

So, was it wearing tiny overalls? This is why you need to learn to look, because it might be wearing tiny overalls, and then you can send it on its merry way back to the orchard with its bindlestiff on a bus.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:05 AM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


These are the risks you run when you opt for less processed food--occasionally you're going to be looking into the eyes of something creepy in your food. Actually, looking at the eyes of anything in your food is pretty creepy. Even if it wasn't creepy before, like a kitten, it would be it popped up in the middle of a bowl of soup.

Organic vegetables can be a real challenge, especially those green wormy things you occasionally get on broccoli (brief soak in salt water, by the way).

I deal with it through the neat package of denial and not looking very closely that gets me through so many other things in life.

I wouldn't take it back to TJs, just because the more time you spend thinking about it the less time you're going to spend eating pistachios in the future. Throw it out, forget it, buy another bag.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:21 AM on December 9, 2008


Lots of food has grubs- they're just pulverized past recognition. Don't let it bother you too much.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:43 AM on December 9, 2008


Next time you buy a bag, just toss it in the freezer for a few days before you open it. That should kill any eggs without harming the nuts. I love pistachios, and sometimes the ones I tend to buy are rather... buggy. I've eaten a few on accident. They taste TERRIBLE.
posted by WowLookStars at 4:08 AM on December 9, 2008


Agreeing with WowLookStars -- last week I had a moth in my pre-made supermarket salad and it was awful, awful, awful. Literally the very worst-tasting thing I have ever put in my mouth (and for the record I have eaten: brains, intestines, eyeballs, larvae, and sheep testicles). You'd absolutely know if you came across another bug in this same bag of nuts because you'd either see it or put it it in your mouth and it would taste TERRIBLE.

Having said that -- just take the bag back and get a refund. When I showed the customer service counter my partially-chewed moth mixed with partially chewed lettuce they were more than happy to give me a full refund.
posted by kate blank at 4:30 AM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I once accidentally had a bite of a Hershey bar that had live maggots (or some kind of grub creature) crawling all over it. My conclusion: you'll live. Extra protein.
posted by soonertbone at 6:36 AM on December 9, 2008


I wouldn't even bother tossing the bag, that would be a waste of money and tasty pistachios. You have to accept that, quality control or not, bugs are in our food. There are tons of countries and cultures that eat bugs, worms, etc. as a staple in their diets. It's extra protein. FWIW, if you stir fry meal worms, they taste like popcorn. Crickets are crunchy and tasty in chocolate. This is what entomologists, like myself, do in their spare time, lol.

I have posted this link before, and I'll post it again. According to the USDA and basic statistics, you have eaten bugs before, and not just the ones that live at the bottom of the sea. You have probably swallowed spiders while sleeping.

Yes, you should eat it. Trypanosomiasis is caused by the bite of the tsetse fly, not by a beetle grub munching on your pistachios.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:27 AM on December 9, 2008


I'm in the "keep eating" category.

In my experience, pistachios are one of the buggier foods. I think this is a result of their shells opening upon ripening. It's just so much easier than chewing through a shell (though pecans can get buggy pretty quick, too, in dry years).

They do taste terrible, and I get kinda squicky when I ingest one. To avoid this, I shell five to ten at a time and then eat them leisurely. If I eat as I shell, I am not as careful in my inspections.
posted by Seamus at 8:37 AM on December 9, 2008


But what if there's another bug?
Then you may run the chance of eating that one, too!

A family? Eggs? Larvae? Infestation?
An even greater chance of bug-eating!

What are the odds that this bug's world was confined to the one pistachio?
Pretty small!

What would you do? Inspect every subsequent pistachio thoroughly before eating it?

Nope; just shrug and keep eating the rest.

Should I Eat This?

Yes.

posted by Greg Nog at 8:50 AM on December 9, 2008


Nthing the call that pistachios are "buggy" foods. I've come across dehydrated grubs seasoned with salt inside pistachio shells so many times that it doesn't faze me.

I've just gotten in the habit of inspecting the nut meat that comes out of the shell before I pop it in my mouth. If it's crumbly, shriveled, has "fuzz", or is a habanero-dusted worm it stays in the bowl with the empty shells
posted by de void at 9:18 AM on December 9, 2008


I too have accidentally eaten pistachios with bugs in them. They taste bad but they won't hurt you. Well, they haven't yet anyway.
posted by interplanetjanet at 10:40 AM on December 9, 2008


The FDA lets you eat a surprising amount of insects. Here (scroll down to Nuts, tree) you'll see that 5% bad nuts is the "action level" for shelled pistachios. Here is the FDA's methodology for analyzing nuts.
posted by sevenless at 11:05 AM on December 9, 2008


Bugs are good for you. Eating natural(ly derived) products carries with it a risk of ingesting insectoid matter. I wouldn't bother returning the bag. Too much hassle.
posted by pmbuko at 11:27 AM on December 9, 2008


you've probably already eaten tons without noticing.

if you don't have them sitting around long enough for the larvae to pop out, you'll just eat the eggs and never know the difference

I've looked into raising crickets as a food source. They can be unceremoniously frozen to death and ground into a flour to supplement normal bread dough with protein.

Lots of food has grubs- they're just pulverized past recognition.

Next time you buy a bag, just toss it in the freezer for a few days before you open it. That should kill any eggs without harming the nuts.

last week I had a moth in my pre-made supermarket salad and it was awful, awful, awful. Literally the very worst-tasting thing I have ever put in my mouth

I once accidentally had a bite of a Hershey bar that had live maggots

if you stir fry meal worms, they taste like popcorn. Crickets are crunchy and tasty in chocolate...According to the USDA and basic statistics, you have eaten bugs before, and not just the ones that live at the bottom of the sea. You have probably swallowed spiders while sleeping.


pistachios are one of the buggier foods. I think this is a result of their shells opening upon ripening. It's just so much easier than chewing through a shell

What are the odds that this bug's world was confined to the one pistachio?
Pretty small!

I've come across dehydrated grubs seasoned with salt inside pistachio shells so many times that it doesn't faze me.

I too have accidentally eaten pistachios with bugs in them. They taste bad but they won't hurt you. Well, they haven't yet anyway.


The FDA lets you eat a surprising amount of insects.

Bugs are good for you.


Feeling better, OP???
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:09 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Trader Joe's didn't mess up. Every pistachio you buy from anywhere will have this problem. It's part of the whole package. My strategy is, don't buy too many pistachios at a time- if you don't have them sitting around long enough for the larvae to pop out, you'll just eat the eggs and never know the difference.

You are aware that those eggs came out of an INSECT'S VAGINA?! Have you people lost your minds?? How can you be so complacent?? Civilized societies are not supposed to eat bugs, they're slimy and have little legs and OMG I'm gonna throw up. Whatever, nobody agrees with me about mushrooms either. :-(
posted by granted at 1:11 PM on December 9, 2008


You are aware that those eggs came out of an INSECT'S VAGINA?! Have you people lost your minds?? How can you be so complacent??

Years of David Cronenberg movies have successfully inured us to the psychosexual dimensions.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:53 PM on December 9, 2008


Every pistachio you buy from anywhere will have this problem. It's part of the whole package. My strategy is, don't buy too many pistachios at a time- if you don't have them sitting around long enough for the larvae to pop out, you'll just eat the eggs and never know the difference.



Having recently found a niftily-striped grub crawling around ALIVE AUUUUGH on my pistachios, I am gratified to learn about the freezer technique. (It was a REALLY old bag, also lemon-chili, but not from TJ's.)
Bug eggs I can handle. Bugs themselves, not so much.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:44 PM on December 9, 2008


It's not whether there are actual insect bits in them, it's how you FEEL about eating the rest of the pistachios that matters.

If you don't finish the bag, take it to the park and feed the squirrels this acornless winter.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:33 AM on December 11, 2008


If you haven't already returned the bag, you should. I work for Trader Joe's and we are more than happy to take ANYTHING back even if you just plain didn't like it, let along if there was a bug in it. Get a new bag for free, for your trouble. : )
posted by Andrea2880 at 4:04 PM on December 31, 2008


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