Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 4-11-11
Two entomology professors from the Netherlands are happier than a centipede with new shoes that insects are starting to show up on menus at fancy restaurants in places like London and New York. I’m not impressed, however, for I’ve eaten at hundreds of truck stops and greasy spoons across this great land of ours where insects were on the menu. I’ve even swatted a fly or two with one myself.
But as I read the article in the Wall Street Journal, “The Six Legged Meat Of The Future,” written by Marcel Dicke and Arnold Van Huis, I was horrified to discover that the authors mean that the insects will be the main course. At a New York Mexican restaurant you can already order dried grasshopper tacos and in London you can get stung for $11 for baby bee brulee.
I must admit that I have eaten the occasional insect, but it was not on purpose and I’m definitely NOT going to pay for the privilege. I’ve swallowed an occasional fly when my mouth was open when it shouldn’t have been, but haven’t we all? I also ate some Brussels sprouts once that tasted like they were more spider than sprout, but the two authors suggest that the Western world will start eating insects because unbeknownst to us, we already do. About a pound per person per year! They point out that fruit juice can legally have five fruit fly eggs and two larvae per cup. I don’t know about you but I’ve had my last lemonade for awhile!
The illustration that went with the Wall Street Journal story showed cuts of grasshopper like hind leg shanks, chuck of thorax and compound eye segments. I don’t know if it was a joke but I do know if we start eating such things, it will be great for the ketchup and condiment industries, or anything else that will hide that crunchy grasshopper taste. Although the authors say that insects taste like nuts, I don’t think that Planters is going to replace the cashews in their party mix any time soon with locust mandibles, roasted dung beetles or dragonfly larvae.
The Norwegian authors make the argument that with a rapidly growing world population we won’t have the resources to eat traditional food, and 80 percent of all known creatures are insects. And they are there for the taking. Hungry? Just swat a fly, go dig in your rug for some carpet beetles or keep a tray of mealworms handy for the kids when they come home from school.
The authors contend that insects are easier to raise than livestock, their meat (?) is lower in fat, they produce less manure and greenhouse gas, and 80 percent of the cricket is edible. But haven’t I read that one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas are termites? And the percentage of a cricket that you can eat is entirely dependent on how hungry you are! I’ve never been so starved that I’d munch on butterflies, chinch bugs or cricket nymphs.
If these authors are right, in place of Certified Angus Beef we’ll be dining on Certified Angus Lice, and instead of mosquitoes eating you, we’ll all be eating them. Instead of man eventually being eaten by worms, man will eat them first. The Meat Board will host spider rib cookoffs and proclaim, “Roaches: They’re what’s for dinner!” We’ll give up our Burger King Whoppers, Domino pepperoni pizzas and Hostess Twinkies for maggot brains, filet of antennae, water bug caviar and face flies. I can just hear it now: “Hello, my name is Alfred and I’ll be your waiter. Our specials, starting with the appetizer, are a fly in your soup, fresh locusts in your salad, sweet and sour larvae, a delightful roast tenderloin of tumblebug, and my favorite, dung beetle tempura. To top it all off we have chocolate covered crickets for dessert.”
Oh yummy, get out the RAID! Although, I must admit it all sounds better than tofu.
According to the article, the cowboy’s grub of the future is going to be just that: grubs. We’ll want there to be aphids in our Wheaties and we’ll get our fiber from Locust Chex Mix. The four food groups will be moths, beetles, lice and spiders and the praying mantis won’t be the only one down on its hands and knees praying they won’t be on the menu.