The Yuck Factor

Paula LabrotBy Paula Labrot

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The Yuck Factor
Thanksgiving! It is not by accident that our national holiday centers around food. The original 102 Pilgrims, who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620, suffered malnutrition and disease their first winter in Plymouth. If not for the Wapanoag tribe of native Americans indigenous to the area, surely all the Pilgrims may have perished. As things turned out, the Wapanoag saved them by supplying food to the Pilgrims, including corn which was a new food to the English. The Pilgrims had to try a lot of new foods out of necessity. Well, the future we are facing seems to have a few people very dedicated to ‘saving us!’ They plan to change our diets to what they consider sustainable fare to save us and our planet. It’s kind of a drastic change. This bugs me. (hint) The United Nations Environmental Program We are living in a time of tremendous disruptions. Changes are coming fast and furiously. Diet transformations are on the agenda for those seeking a sustainable source of protein to feed the expanding world population. According to the United Nations Environmental Program, “our use of animals as a food-production technology has taken a heavy toll on the environment and raised some serious concerns about the future of food production.” “Common prejudice against eating insects is not justified from a nutritional point of view,” write the authors of a report released by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization entitled “Edible insects: Future Prospects.” The report postulates that eating insects could help boost nutrition and reduce pollution. “World population is slated to top nine billion by 2050, and seeing as how arable land is being rapidly swallowed by towns and cities, oceans are increasingly overfished, and climate change is disrupting traditional farming, a new United Nations study proposes a twist on Marie Antoinette’s dietary advice: let them eat bugs.” Sustainable Farming Why eat bugs, worms and microbes? It comes down to protein, greenhouse gas emissions and water. Apparently, bugs are nutritious and raising insects and mealworms is a lot easier on the environment. According to Earth.org, “Insect production on a large scale requires a fraction of the land, water, or energy, as other ways of producing farmed protein. Black Soldier Fly Larvae and many other farmed insect species can be fed using organic food waste or bi-products from agricultural, food processing, or manufacturing processes (in other words, garbage). In addition to lowering emissions and generating value from waste – the product, insect protein meal, displaces unsustainable sources of protein still widely used, such as fishmeal made from pelagic or ocean caught fish.” Well….that’s good for the fish!
Who Eats Insects?
Apparently, about two billion people around the world do eat “alternative proteins.” Nature.com reports that, in the Congo, caterpillars are available in year-round markets and eaten regularly by the population.  

Diandra Paramitha, writing about S.E. Asia, reports in “Thailand insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, silkworms and ants are a common food. Thai people believe that insects contain nutrients that are good for health, such as high protein, healthy fats and iron. In Cambodia, fried tarantula is a popular dish. In Laos, water beetles and grasshoppers are popular dishes. In Vietnam, bamboo bugs and termites are often found in local dishes. Insect dishes can also be found in Indonesia where fried locusts, also known as “insect chips,” are a popular snack. These locusts are usually dry-fried with special spices and often have a unique savory taste.”

My friend, Susie Specht, told me that in Thailand her husband ate something in a sauce made by a roadside vendor. He wanted more sauce. The vendor grabbed a bug out of the air, and squished its abdominal parts around, stirring vigorously with chopsticks, producing “the sauce.”
Non-bug eating people may be surprised to know they eat over two pounds of them a year in fruits, vegetables, cereals and canned foods. Oh boy!

Future Protein Markets
According to moneywise.com, in the west right now, bug-based start-ups are proliferating. All Things Bugs in Oklahoma launched with help from the Gates Foundation. They produce Griopro® Cricket Powder. The company says that the powder has a neutral aroma and can be mixed into a wide variety of food and drinks including pasta, tortillas, shakes, smoothies, baked goods, bars, cereals, and many more products. Griopro® is available to both retail and wholesale customers.

An array of protein-rich insect “bites” of crickets, mealy bugs and scorpion kabobs to challenge your palate.
Grubbly Farms was founded in 2015. Over the past few years, they’ve expanded their mealworm production through partnerships with different farms across Canada and the U.S. They hope to help meet demand in the surging pet food market, which is expected to grow to $113.9 billion by 2026.

There are a lot more of these companies around the world, but I’m not sure how much the profit motive of the future will overcome the yuck factor of the present. After hearing this article, my grand-daughter Sidney emphatically stated she would demand her mother read all food labels to her!

Thanksgiving
Our Thanksgiving will be old fashioned, with modifications for the vegetarians. We will not, consciously, be eating bugs. We are not in the food future yet! Thank you, God! Wishing you all a beautiful day. We have so much to be grateful for!
Vamos a ver!
Paula Labrot

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