Insect Pizza

I am pleased to see someonetaking this on seriously.  It is just notabout producing acceptable foods from an insect base, it is overcoming the completelynatural cultural bias against eating any such thing.  Yet when I dug into all this several yearsago, it became clear that it is a practical option that easily provides aprotein supply sufficient to satisfy all imaginable global needs.

As with fresh water fish, it is necessaryto grow the product in clean water and with quality feed in order to provide agood quality product.  Or more grossly, maggotsfound on rotting caribou taste like caribou and are quite pleasant, while thosefrom the out house are unmentionable.

They talk here of using mealworms for cattle feed.  I suggestedprocessing sewage with maggots and then perhaps finishing them with some mealbefore feeding them to chickens.  Mypoint there is that we want to eat chicken and that is best done by feedingthem ample protein.  The sheer weight ofinsect production makes that easy while eliminating feed grain consumption.

My point in all this is that insectproduction is easily adaptable to industrial methods and the production ismassive while feedstocks are typically waste and materials of no value to humanneeds.  The sheer massiveness of it allis hard to imagine.  Because of this, theend product can be cheap and thus used to feed more acceptable human food sources.

In my Boreal Forest protocol, weused coho and sturgeon to fatten during the summer on mosquito and black fly larvae.  The difficulty is providing food over winter.  Simply providing maggot larvae from manureprocessing that is a natural part of the adjoining moose husbandry complex wouldcure that.  That would close the virtuouscircle of the protocol and optimize fish production.


Hankering for grasshopper spring roll or worm pizza? Some day it maycome to that.
Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:53 AM ET  Content provided by Mariette leRoux, AFP


Insects are abundant, produce less greenhouse gas and manure and do nottransfer any diseases.

So some argue we should start eating them.

Dutch student Walinka van Tol inspects the worm protruding from ahalf-eaten chocolate praline she's holding, steels herself with a shrug, thenpops it into her mouth.

"Tasty ... kind of nutty!" the 20-year-old assures hercompanions clutching an array of creepy crawly pastries at a seminar, whichforecast that larvae and locusts will invade Western menus as the price ofsteak and chops skyrocket.

Van Tol and about 200 other tasters were guinea pigs for a group ofDutch scientists doing groundbreaking research into insects replacing animalmeat as a healthier, more environmentally friendly source of protein.

"There will come a day when a Big Mac costs 120 euros ($163) and aBug Mac 12 euros, when more people will eat insects than other meat," headresearcher Arnold van Huis told a disbelieving audience at WageningenUniversity in the central Netherlands.
"The best way to start is to try it once," the entomologistinsisted.

At break time, there is a sprint for the snack tables with a spread ofThai marinated grasshopper spring rolls, buffalo worm chocolate gnache, and aseemingly innocent pastry "just like a quiche lorraine, but with mealworms instead of bacon or ham", according to chef Henk van Gurp.

The snacks disappear quickly to the delight of the chef and organizers.But the university's head of entomology Marcel Dicke knows that changingWesterners' mindset will take more than disguising a worm in chocolate.

"The problem is here," he says, pointing at his head whileexamining an exhibition featuring a handful of the world's more than 1,200edible insect species including worms, gnats, wasps, termites and beetles.

Three species: meal worms, buffalo worms and grasshoppers, arecultivated by three farmers in the Netherlands for a small but growinggroup of adventurous foodies.

"People think it is something dirty. It generates a Fear Factorresponse," citing the reality series that tests competitors' toughness byfeeding them live insects.

Dicke said Westerners had no choice but to shed their bug bias, withthe UN's Food and Agriculture Organization predicting there will be ninebillion people on the planet by 2050 and agricultural land already underpressure.

"We have to eat less meat or find an alternative," saidDicke, who claims to sit down to a family meal of insects on a regular basis.

Bugs are high in protein, low in fat and efficient to cultivate -- 10kilograms (22 pounds) of feed yields six to eight kilograms of insect meatcompared to one kilogram of beef, states the university's research.

Insects are abundant, produce less greenhouse gas and manure, and donot transfer any diseases, when eaten, that can mutate into a dangerous humanform, say the researchers.
"The question really should be: 'Why do we NOT eat insects?"said Dicke, citing research that the average person unwittingly eats about 500grams of bug particles a year anyway -- in strawberry jam, bread and otherprocessed foods.

According to Van Huis, about 500 types of insects are eaten in Mexico, 250 in Africa and 180 in China and other parts of Asia-- mostly they are a delicacy.

One avid European convert is Marian Peters, secretary of the Dutchinsect breeders association, Venik, who likes to snack on grasshoppers andrefers to them as "the caviar of insects."

On a visit to an insect farm in Deurnein the south east Netherlands,she greedily peels the wings and legs off a freeze dried locust and crunchesdown with gusto.
"They are delicious stir fried with good oil, garlic and redpepper and served in a taco," said Peters.

The owner of the farm, Roland van de Ven, produces 1,200kg of mealworms a week of which "one or two percent" for human consumption, therest as animal feed.

"When you see an insect, it is a barrier. I think people will comearound if the insects are processed and not visible in food," he explainswhile running his fingers through a plastic tray teeming with worms -- one ofhundreds stacked ceiling-high in refrigerated breeding rooms.

"It is harder to eat a pig you have seen on a spit than astore-bought steak. This is similar."

The farmer said human demand for his "mini-livestock" wasgrowing slowly -- from 300 kilograms in 2008 to 900 kilograms last year.

For those who won't be swayed, there is hope for less grizzlyalternative. Wageningen University is leadingresearch into the viability of extracting insect protein for use in foodproducts.

"We want to determine if we can texturize it to resemble meat, likethey do with soy," said Peters, clutching a bag of pinkish powder --protein taken from meal worms she hopes will one day be a common pizzaingredient.

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