Crickets, grasshoppers, worms pushed as protein foods of the future – The Denver Post
The movement to persuade Americans to cut down on beef in their diet by eating insects – “micro-breeding” – is gaining momentum ahead of a global meat forum, as seen recently in a conference room. Denver Public Schools class.
Almost every 10-year-old during a presentation by Wendy Lu McGill, defender of insects for food, munched on her M&M-adorned cookies made from pulverized crickets.
Next, the students at Denver Language School ate whole roasted crickets. None, however, would try the worms.
And a student, Laynie Whittington, refused any food experimentation.
âI don’t want to eat bugs,â she said. âI’m half vegan so I say the meat is sort of OK. But bugs? Not.”
It is the loathing factor of McGill and other prophets of the alternative protein that in classes and seminars encourages open-mindedness. They are motivated to mitigate the impact of large livestock on the environment as the world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.
For years, McGill has primarily targeted adults in Denver, where food supply and sustainability are growing concerns. Its Locust Snacks, Hopper Bars, and Crickets drew hundreds of people, including vegetarians, to the Denver County Fair on the grounds of the National Western Stock Show.
But reaching children is crucial, McGill said after his first DPS venture. She plans after-school programs in recreation centers.
âThey’re forming their habits now,â she said. âWhether or not they choose to eat insects, it’s important to me that they think about how their food affects the planet.
Insect-eating advocates claim that 2 billion people outside the United States already eat insects, such as Mexicans who relish escapes or ants’ âcaviarâ. Insects are full of protein, vitamins and minerals. And, compared to cows and other large animals, industrially raised insects require much less soil and water and emit less heat-trapping gases.
Food grade insect production is increasing at Small Herds in Texas and Small farms in California. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration continues to regulate flies, maggots, worms and more insect material in food.
United Nations officials, focused on the one billion chronically hungry people and the exploding global demand for meat, are promoting the use of insects as food for humans and animals. The UN has identified 1,900 edible insects and maintains a information portal.
âCurrent food production will have to almost double. Land is scarce and expanding the area devoted to agriculture is rarely a viable or sustainable option. The oceans are overexploited, and climate change and the resulting water scarcity could have profound implications for food production, âthe UN said in 2013 report concluded. âWhat we eat and how we produce it needs to be reassessed. â¦ We need to find new ways to grow food.
Still, the report acknowledged, âthere is a certain loathingâ about eating insects.
This summer in Denver, Slow Food United States plans to explore insects for food at a slow meat symposium scheduled for June 4-6. Slow Food, with branches in 200 countries, including 140 chapters in Denver and other American cities, celebrates food while advocating production that does not desecrate land and water.
Expect cricket pizzas and other snacks at private forums for around 300 delegates and public events on weekends.
Food “shouldn’t just be a bunch of nasty nutrients,” said Megan Larmer, associate director of strategic initiatives at Slow Food USA. âBut we are extracting ridiculous costs from the earth. Meat is a big reason why. There is a better way forward. Many cultures consider insects to be an integral part of their cuisine.
Bruce Finley: 303-954-1700, [email protected] or twitter.com/finleybruce