Crybaby Cocka-roach… In Coffee?!?!?

So there I was, 639.8 feet above sea level (yes, I checked), no plane, no parachute, throwing firewood into the basement because I was trying to beat the rains and get the dry wood into the house so we could be nice and cozy warm and fuzzy with fireplace warmth and loveliness; when suddenly the guy on the radio stops between songs to tell me that there are bugs in my coffee, and of course that was a good excuse to write a long overdue run-on sentence because I haven’t done that in at least 14.82 milliseconds or maybe even more.

The announcer guy told me something I really didn’t want to know: when you buy a bag of pre-ground coffee in the store, you can expect to have a little roasted cockroach deliciousness added. Then my brain went straight to childhood (as it often does), and I remembered the chant, “crybaby cocka-roach nyaa nyaa na boo boo!!” This of course was used to taunt someone who was likely brought to tears from some cruel trick that was played on them. Now my childish adult brain is taunting me by repeating (albeit silently): “crybaby cocka-roach roasted in your cawww-feeee!!”


My wife and I became “coffee snobs” some years ago, or at least we thought so. Turns out there are many who are way more fanatical about coffee than we are. We bought a somewhat fancy grinder… did you know you can spend lots of money on those things?? Once we acquired the grinder we started seeking out all different whole bean coffees to see what we liked the best. Then one day we bought some 8 O’Clock whole bean coffee and loved it!! Very nice flavor and a pretty fair price. After several grinding sessions, we thought what the heck, might as well try the pre-ground variety. And guess what?? Tasted just as good. Upon that discovery we shelved the grinder with the reasoning that hey, why put miles on our grinder when the pre-ground is just as yummy?

Then I get this stupid announcement about the cocka-roaches. And yes, I know they are normally called cockroaches; but where we grew up on Long Island it was not at all uncommon to hear the much more endearing term “cocka-roaches” uttered instead. Anyway, I’m going to continue to buy the pre-ground coffee; and just keep telling myself, “8 O’Clock is a very good brand. They probably keep out the cocka-roaches… I hope.”

Before sitting down to write about this phenomenon, I hopped onto the interwebs for what was really a refresher course. Pretty much everything we eat has some kind of hitchhiker bug (or parts of them) in it; and it’s actually allowed by the FDA. There are various allowable percentages of insect parts and even rat hairs for many foods. Doesn’t that just make you hungry?? Mmmmm me too!!

Of course, food packagers don’t advertise this; ever. I am a dedicated label reader when I go to the grocery store. Because of this, I’ve changed some of my purchasing habits. For example, I rarely by shredded cheese, or the plastic cans of parmesan or Romano cheese you can shake onto your spaghetti or whatever. Why? Because packages of both shredded and grated cheeses usually contain an “anti-caking agent” which is often powdered cellulose, also known as sawdust. Hey, at least they fess up!! But in all my years of perusing food labels, I have never once seen any mentions like “may contain ‘2 or more 3 mm or longer larvae, cast skins, larval or cast skin fragments, the aggregate length of insects or insect parts exceeds 12 mm in 24 pounds’ ”; which, according to Wikipedia, is the allowable content of corn borer larvae in canned sweet corn.

Even though all this sounds gross, anyone who believes we humans can grow and eat as much food as we do and never eat any of the bugs that live on it is fooling themselves. It’s just a reality of being at the top of the food chain!! When we were kids, if our half eaten apple hit the ground, Mom would give it a quick rinse, hand it back to us and say “you gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die!!”

She never mentioned we’d also be eating bugs.

This week’s cartoon has nothing to do with food or bugs… but it’s one I’ve never seen.