Photo by Marlin E. RiceFigure 3. Grasshoppers can chew through the soybean pod and feed on the developing seeds. With all the attention devoted to mitigating the environmental impact of food production, the prevailing meme is that meat production should be considered one of the culprits. If only we could all go vegan, so the argument goes, the planet would be a much better and (allegedly) much cleaner place.
That argument is being embraced by just about every activist with an anti-industry agenda, whether it stems from concerns about animal welfare, resource consumption, economic justice, global hunger, poverty—you name it, going veggie is touted as the answer.
According to advocates who never consider the other side of the equation, that is. It’s fine to yak about “eliminating meat”—both production and consumption—but what replaces all that protein, all that food energy? What do we substitute in the center of the plate at mealtime? And what would be the eco-impact of those substitutes?
That’s a tougher question for activists to answer, but one suggestion that is gaining attention, if not traction, is insects.
That’s right: bugs.
The substitution of insect-derived protein for beef, pork and poultry is being taken seriously by a number of self-styled activists, and what’s most interesting is that they’re using the ecological argument as leverage.
For example: On a recent segment on the David Pakman Show, a syndicated radio show, the subject of using insects—farm-raised bugs, mind you—as a substitute for our current choices in animal protein was discussed. The host, Mr. Pakman, comes across as a typically indulgent, post-modern consumer, secure in his holier-then-thou food choices that are themselves divorced from the very realities of food’s environmental footprint about which he claims to be so sensitized.
(Here’s his take on beef: “I hardly ever eat beef. Now, if I’m in Argentina, where the beef is really good, then I’ll go ahead and eat a steak. But I would never think about ordering a steak from a restaurant here at home.” That is so wrong on so many levels, but let’s get back to the bugs.)
Here’s the bottom line: Can someone “sell” the health benefits of eating insect protein, which is positioned as being so much better for the environment, when bugs are so stigmatized in the country? Pakman asks his panelists.