Eating Insects isn’t a Foreign Delicacy
Did you know that you consume at least 1 lb of insects and other animal parts every year? I’m not kidding. Never mind the mites that you inhale when you’re asleep, snoring away, or the tiny insects that work their way into your mouth and nasal passages whether you’re asleep or awake. I’m talking about your food.
It’s all about globalization and sustainability. You’ve seen those documentaries that show different countries around the world pan-frying and sauteing all kinds of creepy-crawlies in restaurants and outside at food markets. They serve everything from ants to maggots to god-knows-what. And people eat them! Not just locals either. Tourists like to bravely give it a go. Lots of people love them and eat them on a regular basis. Sounds gross, right?
Well, with the population explosion continuing unabated, we’re simply running out of food. Where will it come from? So many thriving insects that are edible and some people swear, quite delicious, they are a highly efficient and plausible diet staple. And except for the Arctic and Antarctic, they are available virtually anywhere on this earth. They claim 30% of our land surface. Yikes. Greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 18% if insects became a staple in our diets. Yum-yum. Right now, most of us turn up our noses at the thought of consuming insects. Within the next couple of decades however, eating insects will be as commonplace as eating hotdogs and bread.
You might consider yourself a vegetarian but you’re eating meat whether you like it or not. Carnivore that you are, inside your food, and that can be anything from the tiny leafy growths on apples and strawberries, all the way to hamburger meat, a minute amount of insects is legally permitted in your food by the FDA, otherwise, you’d never eat! Insects rule the soil where all our food is pretty much grown so it’s unavoidable to get away from them. And what do cows graze on all day long? Naturally you’d have to expect partly undigested insects in hamburger meat but they’re so tiny you don’t know they’re there.
There are 6 million species of insects. To put that into perspective there are only a few hundred species of animals. Like it or not, they’ve got us surrounded. Insects rule the world. A good thing too: insects eat feces, they pollinate our flowers and crops, and they feed many animal species, including birds and bats. We need insects. They were here long before we were and it’s likely they’ll be here long after we finish destroying our Earth.
It gets worse: fly eggs, rodent hair and feces are also permitted in your food. This may seem like a cruel joke or perhaps an attempt to wipe out the entire human population while being able to claim it was all due to natural causes, but the reason is simple: it is impossible to produce, package and distribute food without coming into contact with parts of insect and animal byproducts, or the entire insect itself. The FDA states that impurities such as these in reasonable amounts don’t pose health hazards. Mind you, the FDA only inspects 2% of our food. That certainly puts their “inspections” into a different light.
Here’s an example of food and insects that are okay with the FDA: canned mushrooms are packaged with a small amount of maggots. Ground oregano is permitted a small percentage of ground insects. And if more than 5% weight of sesame seeds is due to insects then and only then will the FDA take action.
There are those who swear that eating insects will save our earth. I guess it makes sense. Insects don’t require any processing. Cooking them is healthy and pollution-free when done in small amounts. There is such a thing as cricket flour. Eventually insects may even become snack food.
Now that you’re totally grossed out, here’s one consolation: insects aren’t bad for you. In fact many people swear they add nutritional value to the human diet. Well, they are high in protein, zinc, iron and certain vitamins. Myself, I’d prefer not to think about that when I’m eating. I simply won’t indulge in microscopic eyeglasses anytime soon.
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