Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bug Mac and beetle sauce, please!

I was intrigued by an article in the French press revealing that Dutch food researchers are advancing rapidly in the domain of new foodstuffs based upon edible insects.

According to this fascinating article, crunchy baked insects often have a taste reminiscent of hazelnuts. As foodstuff, they're rich in proteins, low in fat, and insect maladies cannot be transmitted to humans who might eat afflicted insects. Unlike cattle, insects don't fart methane. Unlike pigs, insects don't produce piles of filthy manure that can harm the environment (as in Brittany today). You might say that the only negative aspect of the idea of insects being envisaged as food for humans is our cultural aversion to eating creepy-crawly things. Still, we've overcome that reaction in the case of lobsters, prawns and crabs. Besides, people who've gotten over the hurdle of consuming oysters, snails and frogs' legs shouldn't have much trouble in gobbling down, say, grilled grasshoppers or raw witchetty grubs. It's a pity that many videos of people being introduced to bush tucker in Australia, say, include images of screaming females looking as if they're about to puke.

Efficient promotional work will have to be carried out, to convince future consumers that insects are not, somehow, dirty and disgusting.

Buggy lollipops might be a good idea for kids, but I've got a better suggestion for selling such food to adults. The insects should be pulverized (so that their recognizable attributes disappear) and transformed into a surimi-like paste. This could then be aromatized, colored, enhanced with natural herbs and then packaged like ready-to-grill barbecue rissoles… maybe under a nice new market-oriented name: Insex steak. Producers could even start rumors about the powerful aphrodisiac effects of this stuff, and its extraordinary results in the case of sporting champions. Maybe they could hire the great Lance (now that he's about to retire) to launch a planetary promotional campaign with the buzzword InsexStrong

The figures are eloquent. To produce a kilogram of traditional meat, farmers need to supply ten kilograms of vegetal fodder. This same quantity of plant resources could produce between six and eight kilograms of insects. And it's now known that at least 1400 insect species could be consumed safely by humans. So, when do we sit down for lunch?

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