Apr 10, 2021
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Eat the bug, save the planet!

Increasingly, in the media sphere, it is argued that the current diet of people is too wrong. Say, the diet of a modern person is not all like that. Either way, we eat, drink, produce and recycle … And of course, a whole crowd of experts is ready to set us on the right path. Among such gurus, there are more and more supporters of food that is strange for us – insects. No laughing – food, consisting of larvae, bugs and worms, has already become familiar to many!

From disgust to addiction

Once upon a time, the episode during which the heroes eat insects was an integral part of almost any show, at least somehow connected with extreme sports. You don’t have to go far for examples: every now and then you had to taste disgusting-looking larvae, worms or cockroaches to the participants of “The Last Hero” or “Fort Boyard” … While the hero of the program, overcoming disgust, tried to cope with the task, the audience cursed with him and felt gagging … In general, powerful emotions, albeit negative ones, were guaranteed by the creators of the show.

However, part of the world’s population could not impress such shots. Insects as food are familiar, for example, to the Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, residents of New Guinea … It is to us, residents of Russia, such culinary preferences have always seemed at least strange.

But more and more often, the topic of eating insects has taken on a new tone. Increasingly, you can see the idea of ​​switching to insect food being served with the sauce that it’s perfectly normal, healthy and nutritious. One gets the feeling that we are being prepared for the moment when we will have to replenish our diet with dishes from bugs, larvae, grasshoppers, wasps and other creeping and flying creatures.

According to the latest data, more than 2 billion people in the world already include insects in their diet, and every day. About a third of such dishes are prepared from beetles, a fifth from caterpillars, about 15% are “delicacies” from bees, wasps and ants. Relevant literature is also being published. Thus, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2013 released a major report on the topic “Edible insects: prospects for food security and livestock.” Employees at Tokyo University of Agriculture went even further, publishing an entire book, The World’s Edible Insects, in 2017. This unusual culinary collection includes more than 2 thousand species.

Eat the bug, save the planet!

So why has the idea of ​​entomophagy, as eating insects is scientifically called, has received so much attention and is being actively promoted? Supporters of this type of food usually refer to the fact that it is, they say, very beneficial for the environment.

Activists usually appeal to the arguments of a number of scientists that traditional animal husbandry has a bad effect on the ecology of our planet. Too much land is used for pasture, too much is cut down for the same purposes, and farmed livestock seems to produce a substantial part of the greenhouse gases that bring the notorious global warming closer.

Well, as soon as you start feeding on insects, the problems will be solved as if by magic … Of course, according to the same supporters of entomophagy.

Naturally, global business cannot stay away from newfangled ideas. Whole corporations have already appeared in the world that are engaged in the production of food from insects (and, no doubt, they also promote the ideas of the normality and usefulness of such a diet).

For example, the Israeli company Hargol FoodTech has won the title of world leader in the cultivation of grasshoppers. The corporation makes protein powder from these insects, supplying it mainly to European countries and America. There, this powder is used to make protein shakes and other sports nutrition and even pasta! There is AgriProtein in the UK that makes oils, protein powders and – all of a sudden – fertilizers. This is made, of course, also from insects. The Dutch company Protifarm produces a range of food supplements from various insects; one of the ideas of the “culinary specialists” of the company is tofu made from beetles. There are quite a few similar projects.

I watched the film – started eating maggots

In Russia, such ideas have not yet met with public approval and understanding. However, there are people who are seriously imbued with this topic. For example, a resident of St. Petersburg Nadezhda Serkova organized a home farm for growing flour beetle larvae. According to the woman, initially the idea of ​​eating insects caused her laughter and disgust, but once she saw a film about the Austrian eco-activist David Gross. He talked about the problem of the waste of food surplus, while promoting alternative sources to traditional food, including those very flour beetle larvae.

I will say again that at the first moment the idea seemed terribly unpleasant to me. Not only could I not imagine that I would eat the larvae, it was difficult for me to just look at them. I don’t really like insects at all. But nevertheless, they settled in my house, after a while I got used to it, then I ate them, everything became normal, but for some time I could not completely get rid of disgust,

– said Nadezhda in an interview she gave to The Village magazine. The girl emphasized that her main goal, among other things, was to show society: they say, this type of food is quite normal. She hoped that someone would be inspired by her example and open a “maggot restaurant”.

There is no substitute for cabbage soup and porridge

However, adherents of entomophagy invariably face a big problem for them: well, people are not ready to overcome the barrier of disgust and start eating insects! After all, it is not at all accidental that even the thought of taking and chewing on a conventional bug or worm seems disgusting to the majority. Insects are subconsciously associated with dirt, infection, sewage, and not by accident. It is worth noting that in many countries of the world the consumption of insects for food is generally prohibited at the state level precisely for reasons of safety in the field of health.

As for our country, it is hard to believe that the people, accustomed to a completely different diet, will easily lead to such an ambiguous trend and suddenly begin to cook soups and add larvae and grasshoppers to cereals. It is worth recalling that those peoples for whom food from insects is habitual have a serious reason for this – for a long time (or even in our time) there were scarce food supplies in their territory. Simply put, people had to switch to entomophagy because of the threat of starvation. Let’s hope that such a fate does not threaten us.

Margarita Menshikova

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