We love mushrooms, from button to shiitake, Portobello to oyster, porcini to chanterelle, their faux-meaty goodness and earthy flavor are a welcome addition to any dish, and even better on their own. Chock full of vitamin D, antioxidants and beneficial dietary fibers, mushrooms are naturally low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and calories. But if you’re buying canned mushrooms, you’re probably getting the maggots for free.

The Details: Maggots, which are tiny rice-shaped fly larvae, feast on rotting foods. They appear in several food items but the worst offenders are mushrooms, and the Government even condones this: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows some maggots for every ounce of canned mushrooms (ugh!)

The Risks: There are no specific health risks associated with eating maggots, and several cultures across the world ingest insects as a source of protein without any adverse effects. But for vegans and vegetarians, it may pose an ethical dilemma besides also being totally gross.

The Alternatives: Minimizing your bug intake is simple since canned mushrooms are easily replaceable. In fact, ditch canned and processed foods as much as possible and switch to whole produce that you buy fresh or frozen.

  • Wash fresh produce in small batches and inspect them, especially leafy greens, for little insects that hide in crevices.
  • If you plan to juice raw veg and fruit, cut them into small pieces before blending so you don’t end up ingesting caterpillars or fruit flies by mistake.
  • Always sift through and rinse your grains such as rice or barley, before cooking.

PS: Head to our Food section for healthy recipes and the latest food trends.
Also, find quick and easy 
Nutrition tips here.

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Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.