June 25, 2014 by The Zemanifesto
A Quick Note: I picked up a few subscribers yesterday, so thank you and welcome aboard! Also, a tip of the hat to “thepublicblogger” for inspiring me to include music in some of my posts.
Listening is, of course, totally optional. Generally I’ll just post whatever I was listening to while writing the article (hope you like jazz) and/or something that reinforces the theme or subject of the article.
Today’s selection is of the first kind — “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down,” written and performed by Miles Davis, from the album “Bitches Brew, 1970. If you feel so inclined, press play.
Vegans will tell you (and tell you, and tell you…) that you don’t need to kill an animal to get the protein your body needs to thrive. I’m posting late today because I was grilling delicious cheeseburgers earlier, so there you go.
I have seen that scene in The Dome where a steer gets sliced in half, and I still think this porterhouse steak looks delightful, because I’m a monster.
But raising and killing cows for their succulent meat and enslaving them en masse to extract their creamy, delicious milk has impacts on the planet beyond the horror visited upon them as a species and the arteries of the people who consume their charred flesh and processed dairy.
If you’re super-duper serial about global warming (and you should be) you may already know that after carbon dioxide, methane is the most abundant greenhouse gas produced in the United States. It’s no contest — carbon dioxide accounted for 82% of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 and methane didn’t quite crack into the double digits at 9%.
But not all greenhouse gasses are created equal. Because even though methane clears from the atmosphere through natural processes faster than carbon dioxide, it has a substantially greater impact on climate. From the EPA:
“Pound for pound, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is over 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.”
What does that have to do with tasty steaks? Plenty, because it turns out that a quarter of that methane is attributable to “enteric fermentation,” which is a fancy way of saying burps and farts, mostly from cows. Peep the EPA fart chart:
The official word is that the natural gas industry is the biggest methane emitter, but if you factor “manure management” into the equation, global warming is mostly the fault of flatulent cattle. Ok, fine, our enslavement and/or wholesale slaughter of flatulent cattle.
Scientific American puts a finer point on it:
“It turns out that producing half a pound of hamburger for someone’s lunch — a patty of meat the size of two decks of cards — releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.”
Enter the humble insect. There are a fuck-ton of insects on planet earth, by which I mean they probably account for about 90% of all life on the planet. Not animal life, all life, including plants, bacteria and anything else that lives and dies.
We spend a lot of time killing insects, mostly because they compete with us for food, but we rarely look to them as a food source, at least in the “Western world.”
But according to this 2013 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, insects are not only abundant, “farming” them has a much lower carbon impact than any traditional livestock and the end product has a far higher average protein by weight.
And these factors could become essential to supporting the 9 billion people projected to be alive on planet Earth by 2050. From the FAO report:
“Insects are often considered a nuisance to human beings and mere pests for crops and animals. Yet this is far from the truth. Insects provide food at low environmental cost, contribute positively to livelihoods, and play a fundamental role in nature. However, these benefits are largely unknown to the public… many people around the world eat insects out of choice, largely because of the palatability of the insects and their established place in local food cultures.”
In layman’s terms? Insects are better for the planet and cheaper to produce and purchase than traditional livestock, so buck the fuck up and eat your grubs, cause there’s going to be 9 billion of us soon and everybody’s going to be hungry.
So When Do We Get To Eat Bugs?
Right now, if you’ve got the time to drive down Mexico way — particularly Oaxaca — where chapulines, seasoned and fried grasshoppers, are a street food staple. People eat them alone like popcorn and make tacos with the salty, crispy critters.
It isn’t that hard to find chapulines for sale in the US, particularly in parts of California with large Mexican populations, like Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. And honestly, it isn’t that hard to find people eating insects all over the world.
Americans live by the maxim that almost anything can be made delicious by deep-frying it, so it seems possible our palates could be retrained to accept insects as snacks. But can we really overcome the widespread physical revulsion at the very idea of eating an insect, which has been engrained in the collective consciousness for generations? And can you really replace meat with bug meat?
I eat some pretty crazy shit. I’ve eaten the aforementioned chapulines (tequila helps), I’ve enjoyed raw shrimp meat with fried shrimp heads (sake helps), I adore lengua tacos (beer helps) — shit, I even eat chopped chicken liver and gefilte fish on purpose (being Jewish helps a lot).
But it’s hard to imagine ever willingly trading in a fried chicken quarter or a medium-rare filet mignon for a pile of fried bugs.
Then again, I adore crawdads, and I don’t care what any zoologists says, those things are fucking bugs. So is eating insects the future of humanity? I really hope so, because the alternative is so much worse…
Via various sources