Society

Fries With Your Bug Mac? You May Already Eat Insects Without Knowing It

Dug up...now dig in!
Dug up...now dig in!
Paul Molga

TOULOUSE - Will we be forced to eat spiders, larvae, crickets and other creepy-crawlers in the near future? In the face of mounting demographic pressures, we may be faced with this question sooner rather than later.

“With 20 billion cattle, twice the number of the 1980s, the earth has reached its maximum number of ruminants. We’re going to need other sources of protein,” explains Bruno Parmentier, director of the School of Agricultural Studies (ESA) in Angers, France.

Out of the 20 amino acids that create protein, eight cannot be produced by the human organism and thus must be provided through alimentation. Amino acids aren’t just for building muscles and renewing tissues – they also provide the five to seven daily grams (0.17 to 0.24 ounces) of nitrogen the body needs on a daily basis to create its own proteins and nucleic acids. When the organism doesn’t have its daily requirement, as is commonly the case in Africa and the Indian sub-continent, the body starts to lose weight, muscles melt, the immune system weakens and fatigue kicks in. In children, this leads to stunted growth.

We find interesting quantities of proteins in the plant world. But, neither soy – which is close to meat in terms of nutritional value – nor vegetables or oils will ever be able to satisfy our daily requirements, say nutritionists. Proteins from insects, however, provide the whole catalogue of amino acids our bodies need. Primitive ethnic groups know this very well. At least 3000 ethnic groups eat insect meal regularly, mostly coleoptera (beetles), lepidoptera (caterpillars and cocoons), and orthoptera (crickets and grasshoppers).

In southern Africa, insects represent 10% of the population’s animal protein intake. The Pedi people consider the mopane worm (Gonombrasia belina) as superior food – over beef. On the Reunion Island, the Potter wasp is a popular dish, fried or prepared in a spicy rougail (a ginger, hot pepper and tomato sauce). In Japan, the hornet, gutted from its intestines, is served in a fondue or as liquor. In total, two billion people around the world eat insects regularly.

Even though westerners do not have the same appetite for bugs, they already eat about 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of bugs a year unknowingly – in fruits or jams or through the cochineal dyes used in food coloring.

From Big Mac to “Bug Mac”

“The question isn’t should we eat insects – but when?” says entomologist Marcel Dicke, a professor from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands. This has always been a constant in our world’s history – as countries are getting richer, they become more and more carnivorous.

“If China and India start following the same path, a day will come when the Big Mac will be a luxury product,” he says. Should this happen, the “Bug Macs” will be very useful – they contain more protein than meat (crickets contain 65% of protein, as well as minerals and vitamins A, B and C). Insects are low fat, they are plentiful, they don’t contribute to global warming and require six to ten times less food than bovines.

“Other protein sources just can’t compete with insects,” says Bruno Parmentier. Fish? “Humanity is 3,000 years behind on farming techniques and keeps emptying its fish reserves to satisfy demand. If we continue to use three to five kilos of small fish to produce a kilo of salmon, we are going to drain the whole south Pacific area.” As a consequence, “Soon, we should start producing carps, they are herbivorous and their transformation rate of vegetal proteins is particularly interesting – 2.5 kilos for one kilo of carp.” The problem is that carps smell of sludge and are full of fish bones.

Shrimps are also suited to mass production, they contain twice as much protein as white meats. The market witnessed a 300% jump in the number of people who eat shrimp within a decade, but its industry is accused of polluting drinkable water, surrounding lands and oceans. Vietnamese farms alone produce seven million tons of toxic waste per year.

As for soy as a vegetal source of protein – there is less and less available land for soy fields.

This leaves us with bugs – 1,200 of which are considered to be edible. “Most of them have a hazelnut flavor,” says Cedric Auriol, who just launched France’s first insect farm, near Toulouse. Insects taste like peanuts, cereals or even shrimp. “Despite that, almost no one eats insects in our societies,” says Berangere Boismain, whose “Insects: Tomorrow’s Little Cattle” project at the Nantes Design School in western France is making a lot of noise in the food industry. “With new packaging, we should be able to offer bug proteins as a substitute to meat,” she says.

Here are some of the ideas on her menu: vegetable kebabs with bug flour; grasshopper eggrolls; mealworm quiche; chocolate mousse with larvae. Hungry yet?

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Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

4.9%

China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.

📈💥  IN OTHER NEWS

​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.


Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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