This post is an exception. It's not about business, not about technology, not about Web 2.0, venture capital or predictions for 2008. It's about bugs, little black bugs with six legs and two antennae. Moreover it's about bugs in food. Even more, it's about bugs in food that was cooked in my house. Talking about bugs is possibly curious, perhaps gross. Bugs in food is for sure gross, but perhaps funny. Bugs in food in your own home ain't funny, it's flat out embarrassing.
And that was exactly situation I found myself in yesterday, when our nanny came up to me ands showed a spoonful of the dish she was cooking and asked me "are these bugs in our dinner?" And I took a look and indeed the two tiny black little things looked very much like bugs.
I walked downstairs, and all my children were sitting at the dinner table, spoons in hand ready to eat. The cauldron in which the dinner was cooking (we have a big family and we have to cook using cauldrons) was still boiling and I looked inside and saw a lot more of those little black things. It was probably the lentils we bought from Whole Foods that had it. That's not surprising because Whole Foods sells food that is pesticide free, and when you buy food that's pesticide free chances of finding pests in it are higher. C'est la vie.
The food was ready to go down the drain for sure, but with the disappointment in everybody's eyes, I knew I had to do something to turn this awkward situation into a productive one. So I said looking at our nanny and the kids "I am not sure that these are bugs. I need a scientists help to find out. Go get your microscopes!" I told our nanny not to throw away the food until the little scientists had proven that the black things were bugs. If they didn't we'd eat the dinner (that's what I told them, no way we were eating that stuff).
The girls were learning about hypotheses and experiments in science class this week, so I played into that. They rushed to the kitchen with their microscopes. I asked "what's the hypothesis?" and they said, "There are bugs in the soup." I said "good, so prove it, find me a bug under the microscope."
With their little tweezers that comes in the microscope kit, they picked out little black things from their food, put them on the slide, then under the microscope and they showed me black things, but they didn't exactly look like bugs, black blobs more likely. I asked them to look for things that clearly bugs had, and they went on looking for antennae and legs etc. They kept saying "I found it" and I refuted saying "well that could be part of a seed, or a burnt piece of corn, I think you need to get more data, that's what happens when you are doing an experiment." They went through bug after bug and finally, my daughter, aptly named Sofia, yelled "I got it! This is definitely a leg" I looked through and clearly you could see a leg. I said "that's it, that's proof. We can now throw away the food." Then I told the girls it was important that they document this and draw a picture of what they saw, and they did.
They were so happy to apply what they had learned in school and got a first hand idea of what it's like to form a hypothesis, do experiments and come to a conclusion about it. I think they will never forget about this, and a day that could have gone down in history of a bad day with bad food became a day to remember about learning.
All was well except one thing. I was so happy and proud that the kids did something good, I told them "now tell your teachers what you did and show your pictures". That was a mistake, I think. A mistake more embarrassing than talking about bugs in food. Why? Because, there was 100% chance that my daughter would go to school the next day and excitedly tell her teacher: "Ms. Giamona, we saw these black things in our dinner and we put them under the microscope and they were black bugs, I saw their leg, and look I made a picture of the bug in our dinner."
I think it will be very hard for the teacher to see the educational angle here.