Michelle Mazur, guest barfblogger: Insect, the other white meat
Posted: June 27th, 2008 - 10:12am byEarlier this month Doug talked about entomophagy, the practice of eating insects as food. It’s no mystery that many cultures eat bugs for nutrition. However this is not the case for the cultures of the United States and Europe, where not only are bugs unappetizing, but there is an entire market devoted to their extermination.
Western culture has put a certain social taboo on insects in general. If a cockroach is found in a kitchen of a restaurant, health inspectors will shut the place down. But who can blame them? Most Americans are brought up to find bugs disgusting and dirty.
As part of an introductory entomology class in my undergraduate work, I had the chance to try cookies containing dried crickets and salsa containing live mealworms. I definitely was not excited about tasting either of them, but you would be surprised what some students would do for extra credit. After sampling the supposedly “tasty treats” I have to admit that they weren’t half bad; in fact they tasted completely normal.
Just as a cook might add tofu to a noodle dish, there is also the option of earthworms or grasshoppers for an extra dose of protein. And a large number of countries have a booming market for raising insects, just as there is a market here in Kansas for raising beef cattle.
Not only would there be a little more variety in food options, but also the option to “go green” in other ways than driving a hybrid. Multiple studies and articles have been written about how insects are much more efficient converters of energy compared to typical farm animals. Bryan Walsh of Time.com has a terrific article about how environmentally friendly insects can be used as a food source.
Now I’ve read the articles too, but the first large hurdle to jump over will be the cultural taboo. The food industry of Western culture will have a hard time changing “Waiter, waiter, there is a fly in my soup!” into “Waiter, waiter, I do not have enough flies in my soup!”