“What bugs my stomach?”
Meat and potatoes… That’s the stuff that farm boys are made of. The majority of farm meals featured a type of meat and a form of potatoes when I was growing up and that’s the way I wanted it. Thankfully, Mom was very skilled preparing a variety of flavors and styles out of meat and potatoes.
That’s the way I still want food most of the time…in the form of Meat and Potatoes.
Sure, attempts have been made to expand my food horizons … and I will try nearly anything. However, I have learned that… a Portobello mushroom used in place of the hamburger patty is tasty but doesn’t quite cut it. Spaghetti squash used in place of pasta… fewer calories but you can’t trick my taste buds. Sprouts topping a salad … it’s a lot of fuss with very little payback. Quinoa…was that food?
But there are limits to my food horizons. I believe I have determined the limit… I believe that emtomophagy will be that limit. I should never say never but...
Emtomophagy, the practice of eating insects, is gaining momentum as a potential solution to feed the world’s population which is expected to grow to 9 billion people by the year 2050.
I know that humans have been eating bugs since the beginning of humans and bugs. But that was before humans invented corn fed beef, discovered the 2 inch center cut porkchop, and created chicken breasts the size of my head. In a world of choice scenarios, I know where my choices will fall.
I was recently reviewing a paper written by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations entitled “Edible Insects – future prospects for food and feed security”. It was a fascinating review and I learned a great deal about bugs and the consumption of them…
• Globally, the most commonly consumed insects are beetles (31%) followed by caterpillars (18%); bees, wasps and ants (14%); grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13%); cicadas, plant hoppers, scale insects and true bugs (10%). (Shocking to me… Termites are only 3% consumption and flies are only 2%.)
• Culture and religion heavily influence entomophagy where insects are commonly consumed as a food source in many regions of the world. However, in most Western countries, people view it with disgust and associate the eating of insects with a more primitive behavior. (I learned this on the playground at 5 years old.)
• There are more than 1900 species of insects that have been consumed as food. (Apprarently, there is food everywhere you look.)
• Insects can be consumed whole or may be processed into granular or paste forms. (Cricket flour is for sale on the internet…of course, nearly everything is for sale on the internet.)
• There is not a regulatory framework governing insects as food and feed sources for the most part. (I’m shocked Washington has not created a regulatory nightmare in this type of farming.)
• 2 billion people worldwide regularly practice insect eating. (it would take a lot of “practice” for me)
• Insects are rich in protein, good fats, and high in calcium iron and zinc. (and taste like chicken)
Nope. These factoids didn’t change my taste buds.
I can’t help thinking about the potential “what if’s” that relate to this topic…
Can you imagine the “not in my backyard” movement if a large industrial cockroach farm was being proposed in your neighborhood or near a school?
How about the potential research by food companies to create the greatest insect ingredients for home cooking… Who is going to be the taste testers?
What kind of labeling rules and guidelines would be required for insect related food? ...government bureaucracies are ready for the challenge, I bet!
How would the GMO or non-organic insects be viewed by the holistic insect movement?
How will the public view the humane treatment of insects in food production?
Will there be “small bug” veterinarians as a new career option?
Will the general public demand only “locally grown” bugs?
What cable channel will have the first insect cooking show?
It is fun to consider the possibilities. I will patiently wait and watch and listen for the latest insect news as it affects the world of food and agriculture and members of the Cook County Farm Bureau. In the meantime, I plan on enjoying my insects being converted into food by hungry trout while I enjoy a shore lunch of steak and potatoes (with extra butter) on the banks of a mountain stream.
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