Thursday, November 12, 2009


Salma Albdenour asks a fascinating question:

High in protein, low in fat, delicious, ubiquitous: why not eat bugs?
This has never really crossed my mind before, but it strikes me as a fascinating alternative. A lot of people will find this disgusting, but that's a simply cultural construct, not some biological fact. And I'm pretty fast-and-loose with my culinary experimentation; I will try almost anything at least once, with very few exceptions, and those exceptions usually involve my possible death if something goes wrong. And I don't see that existing with bugs, so while I don't think I'll face the "opportunity" to try some of the dishes in Albdenour's article, I wouldn't be opposed to it automatically if the chance arrived. And the eating of bugs raises some interesting dietary and environmental questions.

Of course, the skeptic in me immediately worries what the cost of eating bugs might be. Given how many bugs people en masse might have to eat to gain nourishment, what impact would this have on ecosystems of other animals (birds, bats, anteaters, etc.)? But some of the positives of eating bugs are fascinating, too. It's not just that it reduces our dependence on more wasteful animals (I love beef, but the amount of energy and resources, feed and otherwise, for cattle farming is pretty appalling); if eating bugs actually does reduce the need for pesticides, as Dennis claims, then it actually seems like an even better idea. And if people think these bug-dishes taste like seafood (which the guests at the dinner in the article seemed to agree upon), it could help people get that taste without ravaging the oceans as much.

I still have my doubts, and wonder what environmental scientists and others who study major ecosystems would have to say about this idea. And I just can't help but worry about what mass production would do to the environment, not necessarily because of the bugs, but because mass consumption of just about anything has proven to be pretty damaging, especially when corporations seeking profits enter the equation. Still, the objection that "it's gross" clearly isn't sufficient enough.