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Government Idle Science

UN Says: Why Not Eat More Insects? 626

Posted by samzenpus
from the other-other-white-meat dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes in with news about a U.N. plan to get more bugs in your belly. "The U.N. has new weapons to fight hunger, boost nutrition and reduce pollution, and they might be crawling or flying near you right now: edible insects. The Food and Agriculture Organization on Monday hailed the likes of grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world as an underutilized food for people, livestock and pets. Insects are 'extremely efficient' in converting feed into edible meat, the agency said. Most insects are likely to produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases, and also feed on human and food waste, compost and animal slurry, with the products being used for agricultural feed, the agency said. 'Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly,' the agency said, adding they leave a 'low environmental footprint.' The agency noted that its Edible Insect Program is also examining the potential of arachnids, such as spiders and scorpions."
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UN Says: Why Not Eat More Insects?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:31AM (#43709181)

    I say "Because OMFG, gross!!!"

  • Why not Zoidberg? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:34AM (#43709201)

    I started carefully reconsidering my emotional response on insects as food when I really considered the use of the term "mud bugs" for delicious little crawfish. It's totally apt: those little things (and most of the shellfish I eat) aren't really all that un-bug-like. Now I'm quite looking forward to trying some if the opportunity arises.

  • by operagost (62405) on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:41AM (#43709275) Homepage Journal

    Because they don't have Whole Foods stores whence to get their environmentally-conscious tofu.

    In case you didn't notice, agriculture is difficult in these countries that are ruled by warlords and have intemperate climates.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:42AM (#43709289)
    There is a good reason if given choice we eat meat , because it is tasty, because we have the taste bud for it. Because our stomach is also made to consume various stuff including meat, we are omnivore, not vegetarian or carnivore. Now why not insect ? Giant Grasshoper grilled and dunked in honey. Eggs from spider. Various insect I tried. They all taste OK-ish. But compared to a good prime ribe steak ? No way they taste as good.
  • Enough! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evtim (1022085) on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:47AM (#43709377)

    I have just had enough of all this!!!

    Look, if we preserve the way we do things as civilization, there is never going to be enough. Of anything. Ever.

    At this moment there is enough food to feed well the whole humanity. Period.
    At this moment if we stop our Ponzi scheme of a civilization and continue to develop technology while the need for ever increasing number of people and consumption per person is gone we will have ever more per person. Do you hear me? Finite demand in infinite Universe - is that so hard to understand?

    Why is everyone hailing the "green revolution"? What did it do to us? Allowed us what, 2 decades of "phew, we fed the world" warm feeling? While replacing food with tasteless accelerated growth watery fodder! You know, people pay premium prices for "biological food", but in fact this is food. Not biological , just food. The other stuff is different - processed food. This should be the division - food and process food, rather than food and biological food.

    Without going into discussion why and what , here is a statement for you - the green revolution did not "save people from starvation" Those people where already there. Understand! Noone started developing the revolution in anticipation of an increasing population. The increased population was already there. It existed, therefore it had food to eat. Instead the green revolution increased the yield so we can throw the food in the sea to keep the price "right". The revolution helped very little (if at all) the actual people that were lived with malnutrition.

    So now we will eat the bugs. Then the fungi and the rest of the microorganisms. And then what? "Low environmental impact"? Are you kidding me? So 1 billion people eating beef or 3 billion eating insects - what is the difference. As I said it many years ago here - there is no "low environmental impact" as long as the Ponzi scheme works. More efficient engines - cars get cheaper - people buy more cars. Better plane engines - cheaper prices - people fly more. And so on...ad infinitum.

    We are trying to cheat reality! It won't work!! It never does!!! Why nobody hears?! The whole issue is as usual heavily distorted by political and business interests. Why am I surprised...

  • by Guido von Guido II (2712421) on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:48AM (#43709387)

    I say "Because OMFG, gross!!!"

    We already eat other arthropods, like shrimp, crab, crawfish and lobster.

  • Re:Parasites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain Hook (923766) on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:55AM (#43709469)
    You are worried about parasites in an insect but happily eat other mammals whose parasites are far more likely to be evolved to infest us?

    Parasites in insects can be dealt with in the same same humans deal with almost parasites in our food, we cooked the meal first.
  • by bagboy (630125) <neo@nosPam.arctic.net> on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:58AM (#43709495)
    When people imagine insects as food they always think that means in some manner of native/raw form. Who says you cannot mix them with other meats or even heat dry and grind them as a powder additive to other foods? The nutrition is what we are looking for here - not necessarily the "grossing out" of folks.
  • Re:You first (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:59AM (#43709513) Homepage Journal

    If you eat or drink anything red, you're probably eating ground up insects [wikipedia.org].

  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:05AM (#43709593)

    Coincidentally, that's exactly the same thing Hindus say about eating beef. Or half of the world about eating pork. Or 95% about oysters. Or anyone besides the french about "escargots"...

    I find the idea gross, too. But there is a differenc between something that is gross and something you've been raised to find gross.

  • Humans cannot survive on full veg diet for long.

    Never been to India? Members of the Brahmin caste in Hinduism have survived on a pure vegetarian diet for forever. Fat can be had from milk. Indian cuisine prominently features vegetables like lentils that are high in protein.

    Surviving on a purely vegan diet has not been possible for the human race until recently. However, there are centuries of evidence to show that populations can survive on a pure vegetarian diet.

  • Re:You first (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slim (1652) <`ten.puntrah' `ta' `nhoj'> on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:07AM (#43709621) Homepage

    If you eat or drink anything red, you're probably eating ground up insects [wikipedia.org].

    From that very article: "As of 2005, the market price of cochineal was between 50 and 80 USD per kilogram, while synthetic raw food dyes are available at prices as low as 10–20 USD per kilogram."

    So most red things probably aren't coloured with cochineal.

  • by OldeTimeGeek (725417) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:10AM (#43709667)
    Yes, but would most people eat a handful of aphids all at once? There's a huge difference between eating the odd insect part or two because they were accidentally introduced in the process and choosing to eat them.
  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:11AM (#43709679)

    Even if you price them cheaply, there is still a price floor from costs of transportation to bring them to market.

    I wonder how you'd market this product?

    Wrong sales tactic. You need to set the price as high as possible to sell otherwise unsellable stuff. Caviar, escargots, oysters....

  • by rvw (755107) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:16AM (#43709723)

    And the truth is, meat actually isn't all that expensive. If it were, maybe there would be pressure for this or other "extreme measures", but as it farming techology keeps improving at a much faster rate than demand for meat. In real terms, meat is cheaper now than at any point in human history, and we should be proud of that.

    More and more people in India and China alone earn more and more money and want to eat more meat. They are not big meat eaters like in the US, they simply cannot afford it, but they can afford a little bit more. And because they are so many, they take up a increasing part of the market. For each cow we can produce 10x the food in weat and corn etc. The result is that for every cow we lose 10x the food production in other products, so we lose 90% of production capacity. I don't know of any method that can handle this.

  • by Aguazul2 (2591049) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:17AM (#43709735)

    There is a good reason if given choice we eat meat , because it is tasty, because we have the taste bud for it.

    We learn out tastes. If your culture ate insects every day, it'd find a way to prepare them that brings out their flavours. If you were brought up eating insects, they would remind you of your childhood. Some bloody mess of half rotten cow wouldn't be so appetising if you'd never become accustomed to it. (I'm certainly not attracted to it.)

  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:22AM (#43709801)

    Humans cannot survive on full veg diet for long.

    There are only 2 essential things human body needs: 1) protein 2) fat.

    You don't need carbs, you don't need vegs. These 2 are what you absolutely need to survive. Eat only vegs without any protein, and all your muscles are gone within a year. Don't eat any fat for a year and you die.

    Humans aren't vegetarian race, and that's why we don't eat that way. Some choose to do so on ethical basis, but these people need to get essential stuff for us that's only got from meat, from other sources, usually pills. Like B12 vitamin. Drop that and you drop dead pretty quickly.

    Humans are not carnivores either they are omnivores. It is one of the secrets of our evolutionary success. If it looked like it could possibly be edible humans would try to eat it. Humans have even developed methods for making otherwise toxic fruit, vegetables and meat edible that are so complex it make you wonder how they figured them out in the first place. If you try to subsist only on a diet of meat you will start feeling some effects just like if you go vegan without supplements. The first one is probably going to be scurvy unless you start eating your meat raw or rather rarely cooked and start eating parts of the animal that are normally not eaten by modern westerners but that contain vitamins such as certain internal organs, eyeballs, spinal fluid (you suck it out of the spine like a straw) and the skin. Of course these would have to be eaten raw or cooked very rare since too much cooking will break down the vitamins. Are those fruits and vegetables starting to look good yet? And before you answer keep in mind that raw or rarely cooked meat can contain some nasty parasites.

  • Whether it be religion, lax government regulations, or just plain sexual addiction, we have concocted an endless list of reasons to justify lack of control when it comes to procreation. So... we have a planet with too many humans, and not a lot of food. Until we fix our little willpower problem, "bugs" are not a solution - that's just ignoring the problem with a VERY disgusting fix.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:33AM (#43709939)

    Whether it be religion, lax government regulations, or just plain sexual addiction, we have concocted an endless list of reasons to justify lack of control when it comes to procreation. So... we have a planet with too many humans, and not a lot of food. Until we fix our little willpower problem, "bugs" are not a solution - that's just ignoring the problem with a VERY disgusting fix.

    The planet has enough food to feed everyone several times over each day. Quantity is not the problem. Distribution is.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:40AM (#43710031) Homepage

    I'll go for this when the dining rooms at the United Nations [events-un.com] serve insects instead of Foie Gras Terrine with Brandied Cherry, on pretzel bread or Lamb Tartare on Japanese cracker with Tsar Sturgeon Caviar. And not insects as an option, either. I'm talking all the other stuff is off the menu.

    Oh, it won't be happening? You mean we proles get to eat insects while the UN gets Seared Beef Filet with Onion Soup Boule, Asparagus, and Bearnaise Sauce or Roasted Veal Medallions with N.Y. Pretzel Crumbs, Bockwurst, and Mustard Sauce? Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought. Fuck you, UN.

  • by iggymanz (596061) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:52AM (#43710179)

    the UN is a bunch of elitist oligarchs who want to subvert the sovereignty of nations to cram their world view down various countries throat. The United States should give two hours notice to vacate then demolish the HQ building.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:58AM (#43710259)

    Yes, it is possible. But it is difficult and requires a very carefully curated diet.

    On the other hand, a diet that includes some meat has much more flexibility and room for alternatives.

    Humanity evolved on the plains of Africa as a scavenger and hunter. Meat is a natural part of our diet.

    Should the average American eat less beef? Yes

    Should the average American eat less meat? Probably.

    Could we eat bugs instead? sure.

  • Re:Parasites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday May 13, 2013 @10:58AM (#43710265) Journal

    We have that down for mammal meat.

    We have that down for everything. Unless they are infested with extremophiles, then 80C will do the job. And the happy thing is that (a) extremophiles are archaeans and (b) there are astonishingly no known pathogenic archaeans.

  • Re:You first (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gsgriffin (1195771) on Monday May 13, 2013 @11:01AM (#43710303)
    Thank you for demonstrating my point. Though this article, quoting the UN, talks about insect farming AS ONE OF THE OPTIONS, they want to promote this as an alternative for more people around the world who are suffering from malnutrition, the article says. Here is the how this would play out:

    People that are malnourished are often so because of lack of money to purchase food. If people start eating more insects, the poor (and malnourished) will try to get the bugs themselves or farm them (they won't have the money to purchase them). The result will be a more dangerous diet.

    While many will look at this article in the context of their own living situation, the common failure of the UN is understanding how this will translate in the poor around the world.

    Perma-culture, since you doubt it, too, can be easily looked up. I was in Zimbabwe last summer in areas where the UN had already been working with farmers. They were all talking about the UN reps and their plan to use perma culture as a way to improve yield. Not one of them was even going to try it, nor could they, unless they wanted their family to starve in the first three years.

    My point is to step outside of our worldview when proposing ways to help and understand what will really happen when we head down a road. This is not a good idea and will be shot down by people that have real practical experience and knowledge in 3rd world conditions.
  • by squidflakes (905524) on Monday May 13, 2013 @11:15AM (#43710459) Homepage

    Funny enough, staunch vegetarians also unknowingly consume insects.

    Agreed about it all being in people's heads though. I'd be all for some delicious grasshopper crunchies, or even a Bacon, Lettuce, and Termite sandwich.

  • Re:Parasites (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Monday May 13, 2013 @11:17AM (#43710485)

    "(b) there are astonishingly no known pathogenic archaeans."

    To be fair, there was also nothing known quite like AIDS until someone decided it'd be a good idea to start eating the local monkeys and it crossed over into humans.

    I think we'd have to accept that increasing our diet of insects is going to increase the possibility of new and fairly unique diseases. Things like the most nasty strains of bird flu we've seen have come about largely because of the way we farm chickens, the quantity of them, and the proximity of humans working with them. We can't preclude the idea that increased exposure to insects in greater numbers and possibly equally as unsanitary conditions as we farm chickens wont lead to super-strains of Malaria or whatever.

    I'm not saying I'm against the idea or anything, but I absolutely think it's something we shouldn't jump into blindly without considering the possible implications and mitigating the risks. I don't think it's something we could start just doing tomorrow without any consideration as to how we're going to do it safely - if we start farming insects by the billions you have to keep in mind that that's billions of new hosts for diseases to propagate and mutate in at a way faster rate than they can in the natural environment given the confined spaces we'd likely be farming them in, and also, if done in the proximity of humans there's much greater risk of interspecies transfer.

  • by Curupira (1899458) on Monday May 13, 2013 @12:42PM (#43711371)

    It's a little deeper than you think in there... in the nature vs nurture debate our predisposition to insects falls into the nature part probably under instincts, so have fun overriding that one.

    Obviously, you've never been in China.

  • Re:It is a farce. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 13, 2013 @03:54PM (#43713539) Journal

    "It's a distribution problem", which is to say "It's a capitalism problem".

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary saftey deserve neither liberty not saftey." -- Benjamin Franklin, 1759

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