Before you start squirming and nay-saying about Entomophagy,
trend of the future, consider these facts:
Most insects marketed as food, such as crickets, are actually
very clean. Consider that lobsters and shrimp are just as weird looking and
come from the same genetic family. Now go and look at the bottom of the ocean
floor and see how yucky it is--or the lovely Chicago
stockyard--compared to where the cricket sups; an open field with the sun
beaming down and him high on a blade of grass. You are what what you eat eats,
think about it.
Killing and eating insects by the pound is not only better
than killing innocent mammals, it's important to OUR survival. We've got the
rest of the mammals and reptiles right at the edge of extinction, but the bugs,
they're doing better than ever, they've got no problem with our decimating
the rainforest; they're just as happy to eat us! There are so many bugs out there
we never have to worry about the price going up or screwing up our karma too much. Is it fair that we eat plants and
we eat the animals that eat the bugs that eat the plants, but we won't eat the
bugs that eat the plants? That smacks of egalitarianism!
All over the world, tribal cultures and everyone who is just
a little too cool to buy into car consumer culture have no problem eating bugs.
According to facts gathered by William Lyons at Ohio
State University, 1,000 different kinds of
insects are eaten the world over! Out of 1,000 different kind of bugs, I am
sure you could find something you
like, dear. (Read that last sentence in the weary tone of a mother with her
stubborn 13-year old at a restaurant).
In the future, a bug-rich diet is all but unavoidable if we don't
want to continue polluting our ever more overpopulated planet or end up eating
soylent green. As Lyons points out,
" If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would relax the limit for
insects and their parts (double the allowance) in food crops, U.S.
farmers could significantly apply less pesticide each year." He also adds
that the insects we do eat and don't know about actually boost the nutrition content of the foods they fall into. Which
would you rather have less protein or less DDT?
I came to the world of microlivestock via my
enthusiasm for the hunter-gatherer diet and the fact that the Japanese grocery
around the block sells a weird snack of dried plankton, sea monkeys, and
Godzilla embryos. One simply can't argue with such a deliciously salty and weird idea.
The squeamishness Americans feel against having to look
their food dead in its eyes prior to consumption operates from a prejudice
based on the covert mandates of five star restaurants. To illustrate: If a
stranger sends us a giant African lung beatle in the mail, we scream and call
the cops. If we find a giant African lung beatle hanging out to dry on Canal
Street, we recoil in Burroughs-esque horror. BUT
if we are served a giant African lung beatle at a posh Tribecca restaurant
owned by Robert De Niro, and he himself emerges from the kitchen in a swanky
silk apron to serve it to us, you can bet we will be eating that lung beatle,
and probably heading back to Canal Street the next day, asking how much is that
African lung beatle in the window.
Let's examine the dichotomies further: We can go pick out a
live lobster in a tank or have no qualms about sucking the meat out of the leg
of an Alaskan king crab. We can even eat snails as long as the French say it's
okay… and yet, a scorpion lollipop--one of California's
greatest contributions to the culinary arts--still inspires knee jerk revulsion
in all but daring three year olds and the very, very drunk.
Can I confess at this point that I haven't nor will I ever
watch, Fear Factor? But I am not
alone in believing bug-eating shows like it are slowly, intentionally paving
the way for the bug-eating future by broaching the subject to a wary public and
simultaneously vilifying it so as to not spook advertisers. I am a fan of Anthony
Bourdain, who eats every bug he can get his hands on. Meanwhile, other five
star chefs are using fried bees to make flour, making flavorful dressings and
antipastos with ground up crickets, exciting the palettes of the rich and
adventurous and paving the way for a healthier more environmentally friendly
future. The question, my friends, is not IF you will ever eat bugs, because you
already have (statistics show the average human unwittingly eats 1-2 pounds per
year). The question is when you will drop the pretense of revulsion and admit
you WANT to eat MORE? The first time may be a little weird, but if they're
roasted and seasoned properly, I am sure you'll get over it and will be hogging
the bag just like you do with the fritos. There, I've planted the seed, now
let's just forget it and move on.
(P.S. There is no such thing as a Giant African Lung Beatle, that was just for the purpose of NAKED LUNCH-esque metaphor, so stop asking me for De Niro's recipe.)