Monday, February 19 , 2018, 10:09 pm | Fair 47º


Tom Purcell: If You Think I’m Trading Meat for Insects, You Can Just Bug Off

“Bugs? They want us to eat bugs?”

“Ah, yes, you refer to an increasing number of reports and studies that are encouraging humans to consume edible insects, rather than meat.”

“Consume insects? The wife goes ballistic every time she sees an ant or a spider. She’ll never put one in her mouth.”

“Well, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations suggests that she and millions of others must get over it. According to a 2013 FAO study, our current farming and food production practices cannot keep up with the Earth’s rapidly growing population. Insects, however, which are both nutritious and plentiful, can feed a lot of people.”

“Cow dung is plentiful, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever eat it!”

“The FAO and other organizations also argue that our current farming and food production practices are bad for the environment.”

“I get it: Another attempt by elitists to make Americans feel guilty about the grub we eat!”

“Here’s how the argument goes: Unlike cows and pigs, raising insects requires a fraction of the land, water and other resources. Bugs are cold-blooded invertebrates. They are efficient. Much more of the food they eat is converted into edible bug body parts than is the case with our friends the cows.”

“True, but a juicy steak is less likely to hop off your plate.”

“Cows and pigs are warm-blooded vertebrates. They need to consume lots more food just to keep their body temperature steady. Their food is grown on farms. Fossil fuels must be burned to harvest, process and transport it. Farming requires lots of land and water. And let’s not forget that these animals produce a lot of flatulence, which contains methane, a greenhouse gas that, some argue, is a key driver of global warming.”

“Hey, politicians in Washington produce lots of methane gas, but too few people are complaining about that.”

“Also, bugs are good for our health. A 3.5-ounce portion of caterpillars contains 1 ounce of protein. Water bugs have four times as much iron as beef. Many cultures have enjoyed eating insects for years.

“If bugs are so tasty, why have we never heard of delicacies such as bug Wellington or Salisbury spider?”

“More companies are entering the bug-nutrition market. Cricket powder, which can add protein to any dish, is enjoying increased sales. Here are three newer bug-food products you can buy online right now: Chile-Lime Crickets and Pumpkin Seeds, Whole Roasted Mealworms and BBQ Mealworms.”

“Oh, brother, what’s next? Fly of round? Bug tartare? McMaggots?”

“Where global warming is concerned, I’m with syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer — I’m a global-warming agnostic. It can’t be good that we’re pumping so much carbon dioxide into the environment — and our activity may be having an effect on the climate.”

“Here’s one bug treat that will surely be a winner down South: really short short ribs.”

“On the other hand, despite what many global-warming alarmists are saying, science doesn’t know for certain how much our current farming practices may be contributing to climate change. The fact is, the science surrounding climate change is not settled.”

“Here’s something equally unsettling: General Mills may soon launch an advertising blitz with its new spokesperson, Betty Cricket.”

“The point of all this bug talk is this: As the climate-change frenzy continues, you will see more studies and articles that encourage Americans to give up beef, pork and chicken in favor of edible insects.”

“I’ll give up my chuck roast, pork chops and fried chicken when they pry it from my dead, grubby fingers! Bugs! I can’t believe they want us to eat bugs!”

Tom Purcell, author of Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood and Wicked Is the Whiskey: A Sean McClanahan Mystery, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist, syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @PurcellTom. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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