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Future diets

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Pretty soon the debates over free range chicken and the like will be over. That is, if we are to believe a picture of the future  painted by two Dutch reserachers from Wageningen University.

Today, you can order such exotic entrees as Baby Bee Brulee or Oaxcan-style dried grasshoppers.

Ok. You get it. The diet of the future involves insects. Among other nutritional benefits, they are high in proteins and low in fat: two very highly desirable qualities in food.  As for taste, they are “nutty”. (I am “nuts for insect food” may soon become a funny pun).

The authors remind us that only modern westerners are slow to realize the salutary effects of insect consumption. Of course, the far eastern cultures have been at this for a long time.  Emperor Hirohito’s favorite meal included “canned wasps”.  Insect foods were consumed in the Roman times and gets mention in the Old Testament!

The Dutch are leading the modern Western charge. Insects like locusts and mealworms are being produced in volume for human consumption. The authors give us every assurance that insects are perfectly safe to consume. However, they are quick to warn not to get too carried away and start popping the ones you see in your backyard, directly into your mouth. Please, atleast, clean them before you do so.

More seriously, there are real environmental benefits to cultivating insects for consumption. Here are a few

  • The pose fewer health risk than livestock in communicating diseases to humans
  • For equivalent feed they provide higher consumable output
  • They produce less waste (20% for insects vs. 45% for beef)
  • 2 lbs of beef requires 10 gallons of water!!
  • Very little or no greenhouse gases compared to animals (10%)

Yet another compelling reason for eating insects. Livestock get stressed when they have cramped quarters. For insects, that’s the normal way of life. They are unlikely to complain about lack of personal space. How understanding! or is “stoic” the right word.

For the holier than thou vegetarians out there….I am reproducing some interesting information right out of the article:

“Though it is true that intentionally eating insects is common only in developing countries, everyone already eats some amount of insects. The average person consumes about a pound of insects per year, mostly mixed into other foods. In the U.S., most processed foods contain small amounts of insects, within limits set by the Food and Drug Administration. For chocolate, the FDA limit is 60 insect fragments per 100 grams. Peanut butter can have up to 30 insect parts per 100 grams, and fruit juice can have five fruit-fly eggs and one or two larvae per 250 milliliters (just over a cup). We also use many insect products to dye our foods, such as the red dye cochineal in imitation crab sticks, Campari and candies. So we’re already some of the way there in making six-legged creatures a regular part of our diet”.

 In India, the Jain monks were prescient and chose to wear a cloth filter around their mouths to avoid such “accidental” consumption of these critters.

For those of you who are really excited about expanding your dietary range, please refer the article on how to make  “Crispy crickets or Superworm Tempura”.

Bon Appetit!

Written by asterix98

February 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Posted in future diets, insects

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