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Eat the Beetles!

Coming from ECW Press in 2017. Relating to insects on the plate. Relationship Status: Complex.

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Will eating insects change the world for the better?

Meet the beetles: there are millions and millions of them and many fewer of the rest of us — mammals, birds, and reptiles. Since before recorded history, humans have eaten insects. While many get squeamish at the idea, entomophagy — people eating insects — is a possible way to ensure a sustainable and secure food supply for the eight billion of us on the planet.

Once seen as the great enemy of human civilization, destroying our crops and spreading plagues, we now see insects as marvellous pollinators of our food crops and a potential source of commercial food supply. From upscale restaurants where black ants garnish raw salmon to grubs as pub snacks in Paris and Tokyo, from backyard cricket farming to high-tech businesses, Eat the Beetles! weaves these cultural, ecological, and evolutionary narratives to provide an accessible and humorous exploration of entomophagy.

 

 

2015-08-22 11.37.57In 2013 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published “Edible Insects: future prospects for food and feed security.” In May, 2014, the author, Arnold van Huis, organized the first world conference on whether insects can feed the world. Van Huis and his colleagues have even produced “The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet.”

Insects destroy our crops. They carry disease. We call them plagues and pests and spray them with our most potent toxins. Cows also “destroy” (aka eat) our crops. They also carry diseases. And yet, mostly, we take pretty good care of them. What gives?

Insects are part of a larger group of invertebrate animals (arthropods) that include crustaceans (which many people do eat) and arachnids (which few consume). What are the source of peoples’ aversions to eating these animals? Is it universal? Has this always (in evolutionary history) been the case? What are the consequences?

This is a witty and scientifically-grounded story of our uneasy relationship with insects, as mediated through food and insects – its evolutionary and cultural past, its ecological present, and its future as a way to live more comfortably on the planet. From nutrient content to the meaning of life, this is the big story about the bugs we care about.

Below is a complete list of references used in writing the book.

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