It’s with a happy heart and an older soul that I write this particular post. It’s a post of gratitude to my friends and family who gathered around last weekend for some birthday festivities. I asked them not to come bearing gifts, but an open mind instead.
The horizon is vast, and the journey will be long, but I’m excited so many edible insect companies are coming along!
Wendy Lu McGill, CEO of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, made a great point during her presentation at Eating Insects Detroit. She mentioned that most of the entomo-enthusiasts in the room had something in common: they were, or are, first to market *mic drop*.
What does it mean to be first to market? The edible insect market is relatively new in our modern industrial timeline. It’s beautiful / cool / exciting / invigorating to be at the precipice of a new industry – to be a part of a community where the rules are still being written! One could also say, however, it’s confusing / stressful / risky / an uphill battle to be at the precipice of a new industry where the rules are still being written. It depends how you look at it.
Class is in session!
The rustling of eager students settling into their seats softened as the lights in the auditorium dimmed. “Let’s set the stage to discuss the U.S. regulation of insect-derived foods,” began Ricardo Carvajal, director at Hyman, Phelps & McNamara. He was about to take us on a journey touching on what is known on the past, current, and possible future of regulatory facts that matter for those of us interested in entomophagy.
It felt like I was in university again… how I wish I could have taken classes about THIS!
So… we have this weird proclivity to refer to food as “grub,” but get turned off by the thought of eating a grub. Ironic much?
As the cost of animal protein continues to rise and food and feed insecurity becomes more problematic, we need to get serious about addressing our food choices.
Thankfully, most of the world is already eating insects. From Mexico to Asia, two billion people eat a regular diet of insects. In Western cultures, at least it seems to be a growing trend from groups of people as diverse as bodybuilders and environmentalists.
I love when someone rocks my world with a new point of view, it’s a good day. A great day. Darja Dobermann provided that when she suggested we might be focusing our marketing efforts of entomophagy in the wrong areas. Well, not the wrong areas… but not the most effective ones. We already have countries that culturally accept eating insects (that also have climates to support their sustainable breeding). So why are we trying to force insects on other markets before optimizing those?
Darja is doing incredible work examining the potential for entomophagy in undernutrition, specifically anemia and uses in aquaculture in Africa. In our interview we dig a little deeper into work that will change the world.
There’s nothing I love more than discussing emerging issues with members of the ento community. A few weeks ago, I received a slightly critical comment to my blog post on The Last Man on Earth: Crickets and the Media.
A man named Gregory wrote:
“We want people to embrace eating insects, but apparently it is too irresistible to showboat.
Just look at your own website. Pictures of sticking an entire critter in your mouth are meant to evoke emotion. Imagine the beef industry highlighting pictures of folks biting bloody hunks out of a walking calf.
Folks need to learn to just say no to showcasing these images. I just read an article in which the camera crew bet the child of the interviewed family $5 to eat a live bug on camera. They should have declined.
Media knows how to excite their audience, which isn’t the best for a fledgling industry.”
Ouch. Well… that was my immediate reaction. I think anyone being called out for perpetuating the show-boating of an industry trying to make a place for itself on grocery store shelves would feel a little embarrassed about this sort of comment. It really got me thinking – how does my OWN blog reflect my values and beliefs about how entomophagy should be presented and marketed to the world. Heck, what ARE my beliefs about this matter?
I don’t know about you, but it makes me thrilled when I read about entomophagy more and more in popular media sites. The Huffington Post released an article today about reinventing entomophagy for the 21st century, and I couldn’t agree more.
“‘Entomophagy is an evolving term in need of review,” says Afton Marina Szasz Halloran, Ph.D Fellow at the University of Copenhagen. Halloran calls for a change in the way we speak about edible insects and entomophagy.”
Cricket casserole… I thought it would be at least another few years before I saw dishes like that making appearances in popular shows like The Last Man on Earth (a Fox Comedy). But, alas, the episode aptly named “Crickets” (S2, Ep5) aired on October 25th. What went down?
Why Governments Should Incentivize Insect Farming
Earlier this week, we heard Jarrod’s views on the future of FDA regulations for insects. On the whole, it seems that ento-foods are on the road to being GRAS – generally recognized as safe. But regulation is not the only way the government will (or SHOULD) be involved in the future of insects as food.
Jarrod: On another note, I think that the government can not only regulate these food sources, but also begin to better incentivize food sources that would benefit local economies.
When I’ve told some of my friends about my slightly unusual hobby of cooking insects, they replied with a, “Oh man…that’s why I’m a vegan…” This, dear vegan friends, brings up an interesting inquiry: If the ultimate goal of a vegan is to reduce the harm done to animals, then an exclusively plant-based diet is not the answer.