Sunday, 8 September 2013

Insect Snacks

A recent United Nations report on food safety and food resources suggested that because bugs, grasshoppers, maggots, flies and many other species were so rapid growing and so high in protein that they should be considered as a major source of food in a world where nutritional resources are steadily depleting. Now I've heard it said that if a person is hungry enough they will eat anything and I don't doubt that to be true, indeed in many poorer countries a wide range of insects and larvae are already consumed in all manner of different ways however to my traditionally western tastes I must admit to an initial revulsion to the thought. But as the idea is allowed to mature, the logic of supply and demand is certainly sound in its concept, so perhaps it should be more a question of how these current undesirables can be introduced into our daily diet in some mouth-watering form instead of if? So then, thinking with open mind on the matter, I find the idea of a plate filled with freshly slaughtered house flies, hairy caterpillars and dung beetles on a bed of crispy lettuce with side order of bĂ©arnaise sauce doesn't set my mouth a water, tempting though it may sound to some it simply won't work for my particular fads and fancies no matter how glamorous the restaurant setting may be.

Yet if professionally marketed dressed and displayed, I could possibly be convinced that Locusts and Grasshoppers were akin to a landward version of the humble prawn and thus may be tempted to a tester if found as Plat du Jour in some hospitable eating house. Bees, served in honey on homemade bread or chocolate coated, sounds familiar as a local delicacy and as an insect perceived to be of the cleaner mini flyers variety could well tempt a hungry traveler to try, although the humble Bee probably does more good alive and propagating our plants than as one of simplest snack recipes and so perhaps deserves to be treated as a special case and miss the edibles net if for this reason alone. 

But maggots and caterpillars in their common form, one has to admit to causing some distress if found on the plate between knife and fork. So perhaps more lateral thought may be needed in this instance, one shaft of light that comes to mind without creating negative issue is perhaps of such lowly creatures being factory farmed on scales as vast as the world desires, to then be ground down, mixed or beaten to paste to produce a high protein chicken feed, the resultant edible thus finally reaching the plate in the form of a Poulet Saute Chasseur of significantly generous proportions due to the supreme nutritional benefits that have been added by our wriggling brethren.

The human mind holds wonders of imaginative ways that these less than appetizing forms of life lower than our own could be harnessed to enhance our food supply whilst not actually having the need to chase them around the plate with a fork. Plus additional beneficial processes may be found as a by-product such as digestion of bacteria, fermentation, removal of mold, delaying the effects of spoilage enzymes, growth promoters, pest inhibitors? The list of applications as yet unconsidered could be endless and have wondrous effects on the volume of food available to the world. So although the naked idea of bugs, grasshoppers, maggots and flies becoming our food of the future brings to mind an initial reaction of "Oh NO!"

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