Oats, Rice or Flour in your Pantry?...This could happen to you
Ok so this is a pretty disgusting post, but I feel its important to let other people know that this can happen.
I had no idea. This means other people may have no idea.
Warning: you may lose your appetite and if you're like me you may never look at the pantry the same.
My husband and I pride ourselves on running a tight ship. Sure as the week rolls on a gym bag is left on the floor and depending on the season Stella parts with some fur that no daily vacuuming will avoid the evidence being on the floor. That aside...we are clean people. The terrifying thing is that this can happen to anyone.
Let me set the scene and just be thankful that I did not take photos. My diet as of late has included rice, oats and through my fat cut in prep...raw almonds. If you have grains, flour, cereal or nuts in your pantry. You could face what I did yesterday.
Ah this is so gross...
So I grabbed my protein shaker cup to load up my BCAAs and my greens for my workout. There was a little white worm on the cup. I jumped back. I told my husband. We killed it...(ok he did) I had the heebeegeebees (yes I had to google how to spell that.). You know the type where your own hair brushes against you arm and you jump. THAT.
Then I open the cupboard to put the greens back. There is another white worm on the door. Now we are both like...what the heck. Where are these coming from?
So we start rummaging in the cupboard as we literally just moved in May 15th. The investigation has begun into the source of these mysterious little white worms. The culprit. A bag of raw almonds. My husband dealt with it...bless him. Lets just say there was a village in this bag of almonds....a VILLAGE... YUCK! So now we start checking any other pantry item that wasn't 100% sealed. My raw coconut flakes. A rogue worm cousin is inside. I legit had put my hand in that bag and ate coconut that morning.
So now I'm gagging in the kitchen. I've realized as I've got older there are some situations where I am a big huge wimp. This would be one of them. I was just pacing saying I'm not equipped to deal with this. I just can't. My husband says don't worry I'll deal with it. However, he is clearly just as disgusted. I had taken my pre workout already...so off to the gym I go. During my walk I'm feverishly googling. At first I read that others have had this happen in the bag of Costco raw almonds. So I call my husband and say its a thing that happens with these raw almonds if they've been hanging out for a bit. I had my bag since February.
However, as google research often does. I didn't really find enough sources I was satisfied with to back up my claim. So I continue searching and eventually I come across the answer.
The pantry moth AKA Indian Meal Moth...
In our previous condo we did see some moths flying around toward the end of our stay. My husband was like where are these coming from...they will eat all our clothes. Nope.
Turns out these ones will eat all your food. In fact that is how they arrived in the first place. Your raw almonds, your flour, your cereal, your oats...any of them could be ground zero for this problem.
I have a pretty stacked protein and supplement cupboard. All I said...was OMG I cannot deal if the protein has been compromised. Priorities right?
So essentially upon what I've learned this is actually a really popular shipping problem in North America. You buy any of those grain type products (exports have the highest prevalence) and you put them in your pantry. There may be tiny eggs on them and when its warm enough and the environment is right. They hatch. Their life cycle can be as little as 28 days and a female moth can lay 200-300 eggs at a time. (recall the almond village) They lay them right on your pantry food item.
Now luckily we have seen no moths in our new place. I can only assume that the bag of almonds was ground zero. Our move more than likely has interrupted the life cycle as we have no mating adult moths. The bag of almonds came to our new home and its been really hot the last two days. Voila...the babies were born. So we may be getting off really lucky. And don't worry. The new tenants of our last place should be just fine. We had cleaners do our move out clean, which means of course A) no food was in the house and B) all cupboards were bleached thoroughly. So they should be just fine. Once they don't have a food source they vacate.
I'm so grateful I'm not a couponer that hoards endless pantry supplies to the point I don't know what I have. We buy what we need so our pantry was 80% supplements and 20% rice/oats/coconut flakes/nuts and spices. Clearly we are not a Kraft Dinner family. However, some packages were compromised. Apparently these critters love cardboard. So anything that wasn't in an airtight container had to go. We threw out some mega $$$s in groceries yesterday. It sucked. We removed every single item (supplements and all) ...bleached and vacuumed each cupboard. We even sanitized all the containers going back in. Checking the lip of all lids as apparently they can burrow in and cocoon (barf barf barf)....to start new life.
I'm hopeful we will get off lucky and this will be the end of our pantry moth tale. Naturally I read far to much online and my whole spiral yesterday ended in me telling my husband that we were doomed for this for at least the next 9 years because of life cycles and my terrible ability at math.
Anyways...I had no idea that this could happen. Apparently it is more common in organic products due to the lack of pesticides. So even the fanciest grocery store purchase could mean your bag of organic oats could be accompanied by a whole bunch of eggs that will turn into protein that you probably will never ever want.
So what can we do? This is apparently a pretty common problem. Luckily there is something you can do as a line of defence. If you buy oats or rice. Place it in your freezer for at least one week. That will kill off if any of the 'cant see with your naked eye eggs' are on the product. Spices are expensive. That is what we opted to do with our spices. They are staying in the freezer until further notice.
In addition to the freezing. Buy what you know you're going to use. My bag of almonds...was massive Costco size and I only needed 10 almonds a day. Having that stuff sitting there isn't the best idea...it will certainly ensure that you notice if this problem is going to happen or happening to you.
So sorry if I grossed you out, but I will have different pantry protocol going forward. Hopefully with this knowledge it prevents this nasty nightmare happening to you.