ZB

Ruud Kleinpaste: What if we ate bugs?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sat, 16 Jul 2022, 11:16am
Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied

Ruud Kleinpaste: What if we ate bugs?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sat, 16 Jul 2022, 11:16am

What do you reckon…Entomophagy?? 

When I was born, there were 2.5 billion people on the planet and now we’re pushing eight billion. (No wonder it’s getting more difficult for Kevin Milne and myself to get a decent car park in the city).

Seriously, our economic “growth at all cost” really has had its day. We’re using resources in an obscene tempo, creating a carbon bubble in the place we don’t need carbon (the air!) and pollute water, rivers, lakes and oceans. On top of that we are changing the earth’s Natural resources and life-forms go extinct at the estimated rate of 150 species per day. In one sentence: we are crossing our Planetary Boundaries and seem to have dumped the term and concept of “limits”. 

Converting good horticulture and agriculture land to more and more dwellings is part of the growth gig too and that has repercussions for the way we “produce” protein. On my travels through New Zealand Schools (Teacher PLD via FieldBased STEM, Treemendous Education Programme and Blake Inspire), I have started chatting with students and educators about entomophagy and in particular our humble garden snail, Cornu aspersum. 

This species was imported by the French from North Africa for their famous culinary product called escargot. It’s one of their preferred species! This very same species was accidentally introduced into Aotearoa and is considered a pest in the garden, requiring slug bait, snail bait, metaldehyde and other toxins to “control” them. How easy is it to cultivate these snails in captivity? How do you “feed” them and in what kind of conditions. How do you clear their gut-contents before cooking and frying in garlic butter and what are the benefits of eating molluscs? (human health, conversion of green material into protein, compared to the efforts of a cow, sheep or pig) 

What about breeding locusts, crickets, chrysalises of silk worms, etc etc. Why stop at Molluscs? Imagine the emotional roller-coast ride the kids wen trough when I talked about the brilliant taste of Tarantula cephalothoracic muscles! 

A few weeks after visiting Riverdale school in Palmerston North (a Treemendous event), I received a booklet with the most delightful prose around the issue of entomophagy. They had obviously organised a serious debate on this topic, requiring a heap of scientific research and literature investigation. Luckily, my alma mater (Wageningen University) have always been strong in that topic of eating bugs (publishing bug cooking books and having a yearly festival on useful bugs and edible critters), so there’s a growing interest in that stuff. 

Here are some cool comments: 

Growing forests through pollination: ”if we ate bugs than they wouldn’t be able to do their very important jobs” 

“DEATH!! Something no one likes; this might happen if we start eating bugs, because some of them have a thing called venom…” 

“Did you know that for one pound of beef you need 22,000 L. of water, but you only need 1 L. for a pound of crickets…” 

“Think about the landscape: Farms take up a lot of space: one pound of meat takes 200 sq meters of land to grow; to raise a pound of crickets it only takes 15 sq meters” 

“if you’re a mum you do lots of jobs and once you’re finished you will get very tired; but if you eat bugs it will give you the energy, so you will only get tired at the end of the day” 

“Humans shouldn’t eat yucky bugs because some bugs can actually make you sick. 

Did you know that?” 

“if you want to eat crickets you have to eat 75 of them in a meal. And it will take a really long time to find that many, so why bother” 

“Bugs make up 80% of all known kinds of animals on earth; by eating bugs we help the crops grow (because they eat our plants” 

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