Care for some crispy crawlies?


  • Big Smile No Teeth
  • Sunday, 19 May 2013

We can all help put the world in better shape. It’s easy — just eat insects.

THERE are a lot of threats to human existence. We’ve got to worry about climate change, exceeding the Earth’s carrying capacity, wars, asteroids colliding with us, artificial intelligence becoming so artificial that it rises up against us, not to mention Mayan predictions about our own doom.

Wait—that last one we don’t have to worry about anymore as it’s passed.

But there’s still quite a few things that could collectively do in the human race. So here is where you might take comfort in knowing that experts are out there working hard to ensure our existence, and here is where you would be shocked to find out that in 2012 there were more papers published on snowboarding than human extinction.

Time to curb that innate trust that the system will work it all out for us.

Human beings are nothing if not short-sighted. I suppose at least in this case we may not be ready for the end of the world but we’ll be pretty kick-ass snowboarders.

Fear not because I bring this tid-bit of somewhat disparaging news with a tasty morsel of hope. Namely that one problem that threatens us – the problem of world hunger – may be at least one step closer to a solution. All we have to do is start eating insects. I’m not kidding.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation issued a report stating that “eating insects could help boost nutrition and reduce pollution”. Yes, not only would eating bugs help fill our bellies but it would tackle pollution as well, mostly because insects aren’t quite as flatulent as cattle.

The report states that insects reproduce quickly and have “high growth and feed conversion rates” with a low environmental footprint.

All of this sounds incredible, except for the entire eating insects part. ACK!!

A 100g portion of minced beef has 27.4g of protein, while the same amount of say tasty caterpillar has 28.2g of protein. Per 100 grams grasshoppers have 20.6g of protein and the deliciously named Dung Beetle 17.2g. I didn’t even mention that caterpillars have about 10 times as much iron as beef.

Again, terrific solution! But, seriously? ACK!!

The report goes on to state that insects like beetles and wasps are “underutilised” as food sources, which isn’t so surprising. I don’t know when I last saw a wasp fly by and wondered what it would taste like in a salad.

The report then turns to the children, stating that insects are “particularly important as a food supplement” for them. Poor kids, can’t we send them some Cup o’ Noodle or something?

My disgust is also recognised by the report which says “consumer disgust” is a big barrier to insects as a food source. But it just makes so much darned good sense.

Crickets require 12% less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein. Incredible! But again—ACK!! I can already feel their itchy legs going down my throat.

But consumer disgust is largely learned. In many places insects are delicacies. That’s why I know that crickets sort of tickle when you eat them because I’ve eaten a plate of crickets. And frankly when I got past the idea that I was eating an antennaed, bulbous-eyed insect, really it didn’t bother me. In fact, they tasted quite all right.

It’s the same with trying all the fried insects outside the night bazaar in Bangkok; they just taste fried.

Insects are an untapped source of protein that need less resources and produce less waste – great! But still – ACK!!

But this is what I was talking about earlier, being short-sighted and not doing the thing we should do in the long run for short-term pleasure. Sure, the idea of eating Caterpillar Kebabs, and Dung Beetle Burgers doesn’t seem appetising but it’s for the greater good. In the spirit of not being quite so short-sighted, maybe it’s time for all of us to eat a big plate of crickets.

I just ask that we figure some way to make an insect mince so we don’t have to feel the little hairs off their spindly legs slip down our throats. I mean yeah, insects can help solve world hunger and I’m totally behind it – but ACK!!

Jason Godfrey can be seen hosting The Link on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch 728).       

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