Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bugs! It's What's for Dinner in 2030

A bug salesman in Thailand. Bugs are coming to the
American diet soon!. Click for photo credit.
Yesterday Hofstra University hosted a fascinating lecture by David Gracer called Bugs: Amazing, Beautiful, and Delicious. It was a terrific lecture that made the case that our modern society should be incorporating highly nutritious insects like crickets, grasshoppers, and wax worms into our diet.

In many ways this makes sense. We have more people on the planet than any time in history and difficulties in feeding everyone will emerge in coming decades--particularly if we continue to see an expansion of the western diet focused on beef, pork, and chicken. It takes a tremendous amount of land to produce the food for these animals. Plus, agricultural soil quality is declining at the same time concerns are accelerating over pollution caused by fertilizers. One solution to these problems is to add bugs directly into one's diet.

Gracer is preparing snacks for Hofstra
University Faculty and Students.

Of course people have been eating bugs forever and today bugs are part of the diet of many people in many corners of the world. I remember a bowl of sand worms in China a few years ago as part of a lazy Susan buffet--no, I did not eat them.

David Gracer is one of the leading advocates in the US for adding bugs into our diet. He is interested in the field of entomophagy, or the study of insect eating, and he has appeared on a number of television shows demonstrating how to eat bugs and add them into one's diet.

He also notes that there are a number of economic opportunities at the moment around insects. He believes that insects will appear more regularly in our diet in the coming years as proteins like beef become more expensive. It is a good time to get into the ground floor of insect entrepreneurial activities.

Some of our faculty enthusiastically went for the crickets.

After his lecture, Gracer invited our students and faculty to try a variety of crickets and grasshoppers. Unfortunately, I have a deep visceral disgust for eating bugs and I found the whole demonstration revolting. I felt my stomach turn over as he pulled out his bags of roasted insects. But, most of the other students and faculty members gave it a try. I was amazed that the audience was so open to chewing on the crunchy creatures. Perhaps Gracer is right. It is time to recognize that in a few decades bugs will be a regular part of our diet. New businesses will open to grow and process insects for consumption. Maybe we will see insect brands emerge like the microbrewery trend we have today: Millipedes for Millennials, Williamsburg Wax Worm Works, High Point Hives, and Montauk Moth Worms.
Gracer pointing out some particularly yummy

I don't think my generation is fully ready for the upcoming bug craze. I don't see us salivating over the delightful cilantro taste (according to Gracer) of stink bugs. However, by 2030 I suspect bugs will be a more regular part of our diet. There are already sources of bugs you can buy online for cooking or you can grow your own. Plus, you can buy the bugs processed in flours so that you don't have to deal with the ick factor of eating them whole.

If you want to learn more about David Gracer and entomophagy, check out his Ted Talk below.

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