Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Praise to the Bugs!

I listen to a lot of podcasts while I throw, trim, paint and glaze my pottery.  One theme that it is absolutely impossible to ignore is that there are more people, less land, less water, less clean air and less food.  Ted Talks suggest viable ideas from sustainable fish farms, self-stuffing foie gras, and many other notions that keep you wondering.  In California, we're experiencing the longest stretch of drought I've ever seen.  Even glorious Lake Tahoe sports peers over rocky expanses instead of water, there's hardly any snow to play on, the bees are thrown off (this was the first year we didn't harvest honey because they so clearly needed it more than we did), mushrooms are even scarce... it makes you think.  Then I heard about this book, Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet.   I've read books about eating bugs before, but they always focus on the gross-out and the aren't-they-weird factors so that it was not something to take seriously.  But when you consider that 80% of US water use goes to agriculture and half of that is going to livestock, it would be wise to choose less water-consumptive, and even more importantly, less methane-producing protein sources.  Bugs offer more protein, with less input and output, in less space.  All the other considerations you would want to apply to standard livestock, like being able to turn around or get fresh air, don't apply to bugs.  They like it cozy and crowded and confined.  We've already been eating "acceptable" amounts of insects in all our processed foods.  The paper strip around the neck of the ketchup bottle was initially placed there to disguise the black line of insect bits that floated there before they figured out a better method to incorporate them.  With all the ingenious food scientists and chefs, I expect to see tasty bug-based products on our shelves.  They can be cleverly disguised. The revulsion reveal of "Snowpiercer" that the otherwise unappealing protein slabs were made of insects was a non-issue.  How else would you provide food for a sample of humanity contained on a train?   If this catches on, maybe we can cut back on the pesticides and genetic manipulations that are killing us and the beneficial insects we love (like bees).
Cicadas are apparently tasty
     Which brings me to my new design plan for the year: Edible Insects.  I've started out with Cicadas (because they have beautiful red highlights), crickets, and wood lice (sow bugs, rolly pollies).. there are a ton more and I plan on tasting them too (heard there is a bug food truck that shows up at Fort Mason on occasion).  Dragonflies are apparently delicious, so they will be coming back too....
  Never fear, cephalopod fans, I will never abandon the octopus in my quest for new designs. They will just have a lot of varied company, a couple fewer legs.....

Another bug-eating Ted Talk
Cricket Protein Bars
Cricket Flour