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An entomologist has seen the future of food, and – surprise!– it’s not where or what you might think it would be. “The Netherlands,” exclaims the professor, “wants to be in the forefront of food.”
By “forefront,” he’s talking about waaay out there – all the way to buffalo worms, locusts, caterpillars, crickets, and other insects for human consumption. Just as the American West had its cowboys, this new food world will have bugboys wrangling great herds of crawling and squirming critters to market. A ranch of creepers and crawlers might not have quite the same romantic appeal as a cattle ranch, but the bugs are said to pack a protein punch that is healthier than steak and far lighter on the environment. So let’s all gather around the campfire and sing: “Oh give me a home, where buffalo worms roam, and the crickets and caterpillars play!”
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Insect edibles are already a common source of protein in Japan, Mexico, Africa and elsewhere and are now appearing in Dutch supermarkets and restaurants. Thinking big, a group of insect breeders and farmers has formed a trade group to promote the product and help set health standards for raising and selling it.
There is, however, the “ugh” factor. To help overcome this, a major Dutch supermarket recently offered a sampling of such items as mealworms in chocolate, “Bug Nuggets,” and crispy whole crickets for snacking. As the entomologist put it, the Europeans’ instinctive rejection of biting into a bug is “an acquired abhorrence,” adding that “children have no problem eating them.” It’ll only take four or five years for consumers to buy into the insect future, he predicts: “It’s all in the mind.”
Plus, this shift can be a big boon for our environment. If bug cuisine catches on, instead of people spraying their yards and gardens with assorted doses of pesticides, they can just reach for cooking oil!
“Insects as Food? Trying to Change ‘Ick’ to ‘Yum,'” The New York Times, March 15, 2011.