People consume insects in many parts of the world as a protein source. A large and increasingly demanded source of protein is livestock, which human societies increasingly desire as their incomes expand. In fact, global meat consumption has doubled on per capita basis in the developing world in the last 20 years. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has estimated that 20% of greenhouse gases are attributable to raising animals for food – which leads the UN and others to conclude that we should consider (perhaps favor or substitute in our diets) other forms of protein such as insects!
This is a serious subject- but like most Americans, we can’t bring ourselves to eat bugs, whatever the nutritional value. In fact, we always keep our eyes and ears open for mentions of insects appearing on U.S. menus (and inspection grades on New York City restaurant windows)- if only to sound a warning bell.
While one NPR cracked a joke about bed bug tacos as part of a July article about proposed solutions to a foreign fish, the Asian Carp, that has invaded Illinois rivers, eating insects is a real and and surprisingly frequent topic in the New York Times:
Last week, the New York Times Magazine had a snippet about the forthcoming UN meeting on eating insects. We’ve discussed the University of Chicago student who started an insect food business last year- which was also featured in the New York Times. And there were a number articles in the Times about insect consumption (both for taste and nutrition) in the past few years including:
- Dutch companies efforts to bring insect food products to Western Europe, in 2011;, September 2010;
- Three common bugs you can easily buy, prepare and cook
- Waiter, Theres Soup in My Bug discussing a five-course Mexican feast featuring insect cuisine in Brooklyn, NY, also September 2010;
- in 2008;
- Bugs Touted as An Emergency Food Source, in 2008; and
- Thai Cuisine Based on Bugs, in 2006.
Which leads us to today’s trivia question: How long has the New York Times had an appetite (sorry we couldn’t resist) for the topic of insects as food?
(A) 1992 (B) 1963 (C) 1883
The Answer is (C) 1883. Yes, the Old Gray Lady wrote about insect consumption in 1992 and covered Entomophagy in 1963– the year of Bell Environmental’s founding. The newspaper’s coverage goes back to 1883 when the Times both discussed this topic from a scientific perspective, and provided insect recipes: INSECTS AS FOOD.; FINE ALMONDY FLAVOR OF COCKCHAFER SALAD–DELICIOUS BLACK BEETLE.
To be fair it’s not just the New York Times reporting on insect consumption (see Time Magazine) but we give the Times points for consistency and for being early to this beat.
Like insects, it seems this topic will be with us forever!