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Eat your insects — the UN knows best

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  • As soon as the UN report on insect consumption was released, the bureaucrats who commissioned and championed the study were feasting away on steak and potatoes: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Let them eat bugs. So says a new report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Crickets, grubs, grasshoppers, giant water bugs, caterpillars, mealworms and weevils — tuck in to the finest fare of the insect world.

The 191-page UN report, “Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security,” touts insects as a solution to feed a growing global population. The report emphasizes nutritional gains and environmental benefits of bug consumption. It also skirts the obvious and blames any “disgust” factor on the West: “People in most Western countries view entomophagy [insect consumption] with feelings of disgust. It is safe to say that most are reluctant to even consider eating insects and, moreover, that they perceive the practice to be associated with primitive behavior.”

Chewing on a plump grub with a head that resembles a blackened toenail may be nutritional — it’s also nasty. That’s not a culturally insensitive attitude of disgust, it’s calling a spade a spade.

The FAO report, in true avuncular UN fashion, basically suggests what the “other fella” in a Third World country should eat. You can be sure that as soon as the insect findings were released and the self-congratulatory applause died down, the UN bureaucrats who commissioned and championed the study were feasting away on steak and potatoes: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

These are the same type of paternal bureaucrats that would block biotech crops from reaching Third World countries: “Put down that bowl of Golden rice; it’s bad for you. Here, try these weevils instead.” Take away the other guy’s GM corn and tell him to keep eating crickets. Seems a tad … culturally insensitive?

 

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The simple truth is most people around the world who eat bugs do so out of necessity. Sure, John the Baptist ate locusts; he also was wandering around in the back of beyond with nothing else to eat. In general, the more a country gains in wealth, the more its citizens choose meat over insects. That’s human nature and not a Western disgust factor.

Whether it’s continued crop yield increases, precision agriculture or biotechnology; the coming 9-billion population swarm can be fed through conventional agriculture.

If people in any country — rich or poor — want to eat insects out of culinary delight, then let them continue reaching for the cricket bowl with relish. But it’s disingenuous when a UN report touts the benefits of eating insects — as long as the “other fella” is eating them.

Given a choice, people would rather eat the rice — and not the weevil.

 

Twitter: @CBennett71

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Mary Orcutt (not verified)
on Jun 4, 2013

Oh Chris, lighten up. The UN is discussing options here. They are not anti GMO, the people are. I support GMO's all the way, but unfortunately a lot of vocal non-agricultural people do not, and in a very hard core negative way. And you can not convince them, although we do try. It's like a liberal trying to convince a conservative that their way makes sense for the majority, or vice versa...they just look at you skeptically. People do not get it. The UN is who comes in when we can't solve international problems using heavy handed tactics or throwing money. They are the ones who pick up the pieces of all the failures of diplomatic, military and illogical policies. We owe them our respect if not our support.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 4, 2013

Mary,

I think that you need to research the UN more.

Little Herds (not verified)
on Jun 6, 2013

There are a host of ways to cook insects and incorporate them into a daily diet not out of necessity, but because it is healthy. Insects are high in protein, iron, calcium, and omega 3s, and low in fat and cholesterol. You can grind them into a flour and use them as a fortifying agent in almost any type of cooking. There are many countries where certain insects are expensive delicacies, and many western restaurants are trying their hand at this brand new world of cuisine. American companies are already starting to produce cricket protein bars and insect protein powders. For some great examples of what a chef can do with insects, check out this article on a recent dinner we had in downtown Austin Texas:
http://www.austinchronicle.com/blogs/food/2013-05-29/bug-up-and-educate-...

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