January 3, 2013

Your Turn: Bug Grub


Maggie: They creep… They crawl… And they could be coming to a dinner plate near you.

Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, seems unusual here in the U.S. but people in more than a hundred countries dine on a thousand different species of bugs.

Andrew Zimmern: That’s delicious.

Maggie: Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods and Bizarre Foods America and the author of Adventuresome Eating Books, introduced me to some dry-roasted crickets.

Andrew: As far as bizarre foods go, this definitely qualifies as a bizarre gateway food.

Maggie: My worldview has now been expanded.

Andrew: Has it really?

Maggie: Mmm-hmm.

As the global population heads towards a predicted 9 billion by 2050, traditional food sources may no longer exist.

Raising livestock, like cows and pigs, already takes up 70% of the world’s farmland, but insects naturally live in smaller spaces and reproduce much faster.

But people are afraid of insects. You know, the nose crinkles up. People cringe at the thought. So how do you change the mindset of a nation when it comes to eating something that 80% of the world eats?

Andrew: If I say eat crickets, you’re going say ‘no.’ If I make a case that going the way we’re going and eating just a handful of proteins is actually killing our food system and harming our environment and doing irreparable damage to our children’s health, you’ll look at me and say, ‘Oh my gosh! I had no idea.’ We need to diversify our protein choices. And low and behold, there are insects that Americans don’t eat.

Maggie: Insects also survive on just a fifth of the food it takes to feed cattle and don’t produce as much of the types of gas blamed for global warming – ten times less methane and three hundred times less nitrous oxide. Insects are also high in protein and important minerals like calcium and iron.

And think bugs are dirty? Well, your likelihood of catching a disease from an insect is actually less than from typical protein sources like cow or pig.

Andrew: You don’t try to change the fabric of American food culture. What you do is you try to make a case for why it’s important to have a civic goal that everyone can wrap their arms around.

Maggie: The idea of bug grub is catching on. Daniella Martin is the girl behind the website Girl Meets Bug and her popular Youtube cooking show has been watched more than a hundred and fifty thousand times.

Daniella Martin: Once you taste this, you will realize that the only reason we are not eating insects is because we are not eating them. There is no logical reason. This is fantastic!

Maggie: Daniella’s top recipes include wax worms and deep fried scorpions.

And restaurants have picked up on the trend, like La Esquina in New York City. Usually, finding bugs in your food isn’t a good thing. But at La Esquina it is actually pretty tasty! Let’s go eat!!

Executive Chef Akhtar Nawab shows me how to whip up those cricket tacos that they call chapulines.

Will you teach me the flip? I am just saying, like, I am a pretty darned good cricket flipper.

Akhtar: That’s very good.

Maggie: I think this needs a little cricket taco cheers!

So who is going to convince Americans to start eating insects? Well, Andrew is looking at you guys.

Andrew: The most exciting group right now in the world is the current crop of young people in America age 13 to 23. I have never in my lifetime seen a more engaged group of young people. They’re going to save the planet for my kid. They’re talking now, not about problems, but about civic-minded solutions to the world’s problems.

Maggie: And that solution might just be a bug buffet. Cricket pizzas, cricket ice cream, cricket sundaes,…

Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.


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