Thursday, May 15, 2008

Save The Planet : Eat Squirrels And Bugs

In the UK, Brits are supposedly "going mad" for a squirrel dinner. Not because squirrel is particularly nutritious, but for ethical and green reasons :
It's low in fat, low in food miles and completely free range. In fact, some claim that Sciurus carolinensis - the grey squirrel - is about as ethical a dish as it is possible to serve on a dinner plate.

The grey squirrel, the American cousin of Britain's endangered red variety, is flying off the shelves faster than hunters can shoot them, with game butchers struggling to keep up with demand.

...its new-found popularity is partly due to its green credentials.

'People like the fact it is wild meat, low in fat and local - so no food miles,' says Simpson.

Ridley reckons that patriotism also plays a part: 'Eat a grey and save a red. That's the message.'
Don't worry if you're repulsed by the idea of nibbling on all those tiny squirrel bones. Perhaps insect flesh is more to your fancy :
David Gracer lifts a giant water bug, places his thumbs in a pre-sliced slit in its underside, and flips off its head. “Smell the meat,” he says, sniffing the decapitated creature, and the people gathered around the table willingly oblige. Members of the New York Gastronauts, a club for adventurous eaters, they murmur appreciatively as they scoop out and swallow the grayish, slightly greasy insect flesh.

“Perfumey, tastes like salty apples,” one says. “Like a scented candle blended with an artichoke,” another adds.

The giant water bug, or Lethocerus indicus, a three-inch-long South Asian insect that looks uncannily like a local cockroach, is just one of the items on the menu of this bug-eating bacchanal.

Gracer, a self-described “geeky poet/nature boy” who teaches composition at a community college in Providence, Rhode Island, has made it his duty to persuade ordinary Americans to eat insects.

Gracer wants people to move away from getting their protein from traditional livestock such as cows, pigs, and chickens because raising livestock has a huge negative impact on the environment...,

“Americans have no idea how wasteful these large mammals are,” Gracer says. “If you want to feed a lot of people, insects are the best choice in terms of getting the biggest bang for your buck.”

It takes 869 gallons of water to produce a third of a pound of beef, about enough for a large hamburger. By contrast, to supply water to a quarter pound of crickets, Gracer simply places­ a moist paper towel at the bottom of their tank and refreshes it weekly.

Insects, he says, also need less food and space than vertebrate sources of protein and therefore could replace or supplement food resources that may become scarce in the future, such as fish stocks, which a recent study indicates may collapse by 2048.

Double-fist sized hamburgers dripping with cheese and lashed with bacon versus ground beetle dip. Dave Gracer has one hell of a sales mission on his hands.

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