Odd Thoughts: Langley gardender goes buggy over basil

Columnist Bob Groeneveld found a big white catepillar sitting in his container of homegrown basil.

I harvested a beautiful batch of basil from my garden.

Wonderfully pungent, the leaves are big and thick and leathery – it’s coming up the best crop of basil I’ve ever grown.

It was my second harvest from those plants, and I’m expecting them to serve up three, four, maybe five more rounds of goodness before the season is done. Basil only comes back stronger and offers more when you steal its leaves in youth.

Packed tight, this batch of basil leaves filled four cups – a litre – for pesto production.

Mmmm… pesto. Some Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, a bit of garlic, some pepper and salt to edge the flavour, and of course that delightfully fragrant basil, all slathered with olive oil and mashed into a fine paste – that’s what “pesto” actually means.

Slop it into individual-meal-size containers and throw it in the freezer to preserve a bit of heaven for the darkest days of winter.

I set the litre of basil leaves aside in the fridge for tomorrow, for time to savour the process before savouring the product – some is always consumed immediately, to ensure we appreciate the worthiness of our labours.

When it came time to proceed with the creation of my basil-based ambrosia, I took the container out of the fridge, lifted the lid, and there, curled up atop the green leaves, clearly as pleased as I would have been under similar circumstances, was a fuzzy white caterpillar.

The caterpillar was set free and the basil duly washed. But it got me to thinking. My four cups of basil contained a baby butterfly and who knows what other bugs and critters that were washed out… for the most part, I hope.

I’ve seen commercial food production facilities, where tons of veggies and other edibles are processed for consumption. The sheer volume, I figured, had to mean they couldn’t be as careful as I am with my handful of basil leaves.

So I checked it out.

I shouldn’t have.

I’ve got news for vegans: you’re not as vegan as you think you are.

For everyone’s sake, I’m not going to get into details. But if you’re looking for an incentive to avoid obesity and diabetes, check out Health Canada’s standards for how many insect parts – and mouse poops – are allowed in foods that are commercially produced and sold.