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Earth Science Technology

What's Stopping Us From Eating Insects? 655

Posted by timothy
from the there-will-never-be-a-fast-food-place-called-thoraxes-etc. dept.
Lasrick writes "Scientific American has a really nice article explaining why insects should be considered a good food source, and how the encroachment of Western attitudes into societies that traditionally eat insects is affecting consumption of this important source of nutrients. Good stuff." Especially when they're so easy to grow.
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What's Stopping Us From Eating Insects?

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  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @11:56AM (#44424363)

    Didn't use to be that way. They got turned into gourmet items in a process that rather reminds me of Discworld's gourmet muddy old boots. In colonial Massachusetts there was a servant strike; one of the concessions made to return peace was a contract stating, among other things, that the servants would not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week.

  • Re:LAND SHRIMP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @12:00PM (#44424447) Journal

    Insects generally have a lower meat to shell ratio than sea arthropods.

  • by BurningTyger (626316) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @12:09PM (#44424623)

    I ate insects during a special event at Insectarium in Montreal. I have to say, people do not eat insect because it simply does not taste good.

    There are three problem with insects. First is the exoskeleton. With shrimp and lobster. The shells can be easily removed. Not so with grasshopper. The stir fried grasshopper with heavy sauce can mask its insecty taste, but it still feel like eating little shrimps with shells on.

    The second problem is the texture. Of the insects I had, none has the chewy texture people associate with "meat". Beef/pork/chicken, or shrimp/lobster/octopus, or fish, has chewy texture. With insects, it does not. For example, I tried silk worm. No exoskeleton. But when you bite into it, its body burst gooey stuff in your mouth.

    Third is the taste. People naturally like cooked meat. Without any seasoning, most cooked meat and seafood taste great on their own. With insects, there's something about their taste that is off-putting to human and require proper seasoning to mask it.

  • Re:Good Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @12:10PM (#44424643)

    They served as a dual purpose... dogs actually were a result of wolves domesticating themselves. The socialable wolves were not killed by humans as they hung out eating their scraps. The new dogs served as companions and were used as "reserve" food supply. Humans used to eat wild horses regularly, and later used them as a beast of burden AND a "reserve" food supply.

    Once you start having a relationship with something, you tend to want to avoid eating it, because you cannot undo it. So, you keep looking for another food source. Eventually, it becomes taboo.

  • Economics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tmosley (996283) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @12:13PM (#44424673)
    And so the economic decline of America continues. Just business as usual. Now we are here discussing eating insects because meat is too expensive.

    Yes, we don't insects because of purely cultural taboos. I personally will try anything once. But cultural taboos don't change because we think it they should, they change because they are forced to, either physically (like conquerors forcing natives to adopt their religion) or economically (countries sinking into abject poverty have to start eating insects because they can't afford conventional high quality protein).

    That aside, insects are neat in that they convert things like cardboard into high quality protein (ie you can feed cardboard to termites kept in a plastic box). The animals we have used for food in the past have usually either converted inedible biomass like grass or waste food (think pigs) into tasty protein. Insects broaden the potential input sources. Rather than having all that cardboard and presumably paper go to rot in a landfill, why not use it as a feedstock? Even if humans aren't the target, I'd bet it would work well in dog and cat food, or even cattle feed.
  • Re:Good Question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Type44Q (1233630) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @01:21PM (#44425679)
    Parent may have been clueless to the tongue-in-cheek nature of my post but whoever modded this down was nonetheless a fucking moron; it's well understood that the flesh of nearly-completely-carnivorous creatures (such as felines) is highly toxic and can kill you if you eat it.
  • Re: Good Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nebular (76369) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @01:41PM (#44425939) Homepage

    Horse is a reserve food. Taste is secondary to usefulness. A horse can do a large amount of work, they are more useful on the yoke than on the table. Same with dog. Dogs are more useful as a work animal than a food animal. Cows, not so much. I can't think of too many situations where a cow would be best suited as a work animal. So we eat cows, same with most kinds of pig. Over time the cost benefit gets melded with some of the cultures and you get a social taboo.

  • Re: Good Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @02:03PM (#44426229) Homepage
    Cows are work animals, though they are selectively bred for meat now. Try ploughing a field in a developing country where you can't afford kerosene for a tractor and then you'll appreciate the value of a cow!

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